Reference Checks

Eric Friedman
3 min readFeb 22, 2019

An essential part of the hiring process for any company are reference checks. They are a great way to get some context on a potential employee and hear from people they have worked for, with, and around over an extended period of time. The typical process is to ask for 3 references that can speak on someones behalf they they supply that they have worked directly with. I allow for framing these references outside of working directly for them if they have a professional relationship; advising, invested in, or other direct working flow.

Another group to collect information from are backchannel references — folks you can navigate to on your own that are not supplied — to understand the candidate. I believe that this is helpful, and having had the same done on myself think it’s a good part of the process.

So what are some good questions to ask a reference? Below are my set of go-to questions and some background on each and why I often come back to this list.

  1. How does this person receive feedback?
    Given that you will be managing them, giving and getting feedback is an important part of the process. This can get to the root of what you are looking for in the first place and unearth how they like to go through the process during a 1:1 or more formally. Everyone wants feedback, but rarely does negative feedback go over easily for either party. This is a great way to…