Contacting an applicant’s former employers is an essential step in the hiring process. Trouble is, most supervisors have been trained to provide only the bare minimum, such as dates of employment, job title and salary. If you’re lucky, you may get some information about performance ratings and attendance.
Try for more than those bland generalities. Asking the following questions can get applicants’ former bosses to open up:
- Is X eligible to be rehired? If not, can you say why?
- Would you enthusiastically recommend X?
- How would you compare X’s work habits with those of her co-workers?
- What do you think would be the ideal job for X?
- Did X function better working alone or as part of a team?
- What, if anything, distinguishes X from others who do the same type of job?
- What can we expect from X if she comes to work for us?
- What were X’s main responsibilities?
- During X’s employment at your company, were you her direct supervisor the entire time? If not, who were the other supervisors?