What advice do you have for employers when it comes to conducting reference checks on potential candidates?

Avoid asking questions that give you a “yes” or “no” answer. Do some research to find good reference questions. And make your questions legal or they could come back to haunt you. Your questions should give you an idea of the candidate's workplace behaviors, past experiences, and skill set.

If you decide to seek information beyond the dates of employment, the positions held, the reasons you left, and the eligibility to be hired again, use the job description to write specific questions related to the job you are hiring for. Finally, reference checks can help protect the significant investment that a hiring department makes in any new hire by ensuring better job offers. For example, they can use reference verification to confirm dates of employment, positions held, reasons for leaving, and requirements to be rehired. Keep in mind that the hiring department must perform as many reference checks as necessary to take into account the number of years of experience needed to qualify the applicant for the position.

For example, if a reference indicates that the employee was a good worker but not a good manager, it might be more appropriate for positions that don't have supervisory responsibilities.