# 18 – Reference Checking Cheat Sheet – Part 1

Reference Check Cheat Sheet

Reference Check Cheat Sheet

By Jason Kipps and Terry Thompson

Reference checking is every bit as important as the interview. Done well, it will take just as much (if not more) time as the interviews.  Yes, it is worth the time investment. The keys to effective reference checking are:

  1. Know what your objectives are for the reference checking
  2. Carefully prepare for the reference check
  3. Approach each reference check as an interview of the person giving the reference check
  4. Whenever possible perform your reference check face to face with the person giving the reference.  
  5. Talk to at least one person, preferably two, whom the candidate has not listed as a reference. You should have gotten names of these people during the interview process or they can be people within your network who’s opinion you trust.
  6. Ask the one question that you should always end with when talking to a reference.

We will provide more details regarding 1 and 2 in this article.  Subsequent articles will go into more depth regarding that remaining four.

Objectives of the reference checking

  1. To substantiate any important representations made by the candidate concerning their accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses.
  2. To diligently investigate any important weaknesses that you have detected in the interview or personality profiling processes.
  3. To get to further “know” the candidate.
  4. To judge the quality of the person giving the reference and their organization (i.e.  is this someone whose opinion you would respect and is the organization the candidate worked for one with high standards).
  5. To establish a positive first impression relationship with the reference such that they are more likely to be open and forthcoming about the candidate.


  1. For each reference check, prepare a concise description of: your organization and its culture, the position being filled, and the type of person for which you are looking. This ensures the person giving the reference has the proper background.
  2. Customize your questions according to the position being filled and your findings from the interview and personality profiling processes.
  3. Complete some research on who the reference is and about the company they work for.

Should you have any questions or feedback regarding the content of this article please email us at Terry Thompson at tthompson@roadrunner.com  or  Jason Kipps JasonKipps@gmail.com