Checking References

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 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

  1. In what capacity (e.g. supervisor, coworker, colleague, etc.) have you known the applicant and for how long?
  2. Please describe (applicant's name)'s job duties while employed with your organization?
  3. How would you describe (applicant’s name) work?
  4. How would you describe (applicant’s name) style of relating to people?
  5. Describe (applicant’s name) interpersonal communication style. Can you give specific examples?
  6. Describe (applicant’s name) communication style when under stress. Can you give specific examples?
  7. Discuss (applicant’s name) ability to build relationships with fellow workers or supervisors. Can you give specific examples?
  8. What are (applicant’s name) strongest job skills? OR In what areas does (applicant’s name) excel?
  9. Have you perceived any weaknesses in work performance? OR In what areas does (applicant’s name) need improvement? Can you be specific?
  10. Is there anything else I should have asked you about (applicant’s name) performance or work?
  11. Would you rehire (applicant’s name)?