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7 must-ask questions when checking new hire references

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As a business leader it's imperative you ask the best possible questions when checking references for a potential new hire. Questions that provide honest feedback about the candidate.

Awhile back, the Harvard Business Review published some great questions that Gilt Groupe CEO Kevin Ryan asks when he is checking references.

Ryan serves on the board of Yale Corporation, Human Rights Watch, and INSEAD, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He holds a B.A. from Yale University and a M.B.A from INSEAD.

His main seven honest-feedback-extracting-questions (and follow-ups) are:

  1. Would you hire this person again? If so, why and in what capacity? If not, why not?
  2. How would you describe the candidate's ability to innovate, manage, lead, deal with ambiguity, get things done and influence others?
  3. What were some of the best things this person accomplished? What could he or she have done better?
  4. In what type of culture, environment, and role can you see this person excelling? In what type of role is he or she unlikely to be successful?
  5. Would you describe the candidate as a leader, a strategist, an executor, a collaborator, a thinker, or something else? Can you give me some examples to support your description?
  6. Do people enjoy working with the candidate, and would former coworkers want to work with him or her again?
  7. In what areas does the candidate need to improve?
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