Taking references

Obtaining references can be difficult but it is an integral part of the recruitment process. Read our tips to make gathering references a smooth and easy process.

May 2, 2023

Some Tips :

- If the process is moving forward favorably, ask the candidate for references.

- If possible :

2 people for a favorable opinion

1 person with whom it went badly (it is always interesting to know how he/she managed a conflict or a complicated situation...)

- People are 99% of the time reactive and give feedback easily. Give a maximum of 15 minutes for the call.

- During the exchange, don't hesitate to take notes of complete quotes. Formulations are often chosen wisely.

Taking a reference / Alfred M.

Recruitment for the position / Head of Sales

Person contacted for reference:



Position to date:

Date of exchange:

Modalities of exchange: telephone/video exchange.


Explanation of the opportunity for which Alfred M. is recruiting.

Do not forget to specify if this reference is CONFIDENTIAL and ANONYMOUS, or if the candidate will have access to it.

Questions to ask  

- Overall work context

In what context and for how long have you worked with Alfred?

- Period involved

- Company concerned :

Operational experience feedback

What did you retain from your collaboration with Alfred?

What were the highlights?

What do you think were the main challenges he had to face?

How did he achieve certain milestones ?

Would you say that Alfred is able to identify key achievements to be reached in the context of the new position?

⇒ Ask for concrete examples, if possible with numbers & key metrics

Would you say that Alfred has achieved his goals?

If there is any doubt, there is no doubt: don't hesitate to dig deeper into certain topics. Don't just take notes.

The more quantified it is, the more objective it is. On the other hand, soft skills (leadership, teamwork, proactivity, resilience, etc.) are as important as hard skills. Don't hesitate to dig into both.

Personal opinion

What can you tell us about Alfred's ability to ***ask the candidate's opinion on a particular responsibility in the new position***?

What do you think are his strengths and areas for improvement?

How did he/she relate to the team?

Don't stay on the surface. In 99% of cases, your interviewer will not formulate a negative opinion in a preemptive manner. Ask questions, and know how to perceive the nuances in his comments.

Know how to put the information you have gathered into perspective: contexts are different, periods are different, and people change. Don't forget that a flaw in one company may turn out to be a quality in another.


Is there anyone else I should talk to about Alfred?

If you were hiring Alfred today, would you do it?

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