References should be checked prior to extending a conditional verbal offer of employment to a candidate, but may be contacted earlier during the process of identifying viable candidates for interview.
When checking a reference for a candidate, please pay attention to the following:
- KU strongly encourages a minimum of two work-related references from the candidate’s previous employment. If the new hire is a student and previous employment references are not available, external references are still encouraged.
- For candidates who are either internal or previous KU employees, contact the supervisor(s) of record as well as the Department of Human Resources for further employment verification.
- Qualified references should come from previous/current supervisors and/or designated offices.
It is important to be thorough in your questions and be consistent in presenting the same or similar reference questions to each person contacted. If a specific question results in necessary follow-up, you are encouraged to ask more questions to receive clarification.
Sample Reference Questions
- In what capacity (e.g. supervisor, coworker, colleague, etc.) have you known the applicant and for how long?
- Please describe (applicant's name)'s job duties while employed with your organization?
- How would you describe (applicant’s name) work?
- How would you describe (applicant’s name) style of relating to people?
- Describe (applicant’s name) interpersonal communication style. Can you give specific examples?
- Describe (applicant’s name) communication style when under stress. Can you give specific examples?
- Discuss (applicant’s name) ability to build relationships with fellow workers or supervisors. Can you give specific examples?
- What are (applicant’s name) strongest job skills? OR In what areas does (applicant’s name) excel?
- Have you perceived any weaknesses in work performance? OR In what areas does (applicant’s name) need improvement? Can you be specific?
- Is there anything else I should have asked you about (applicant’s name) performance or work?
- Would you rehire (applicant’s name)?