Reference checks

References will be requested on a case-by-case basis and the hiring manager is responsible for deciding which specific references we would like to speak to based on the candidate’s work experience and interview performance.

Ultimately, the goal behind our reference checks is to ensure that we are setting up the new hire for success and know how to best work with them.

Based on the candidate’s work experience, the talent team will request specific references from the candidate. Requested references will typically be a former manager(s) and/or colleague(s) and may be from the candidate’s most recent or previous companies. We will never conduct a reference call without explicit consent from the candidate.

The recruiter will ask the hiring manager whether they would like the talent team to conduct references, or if the hiring manager would prefer to conduct them directly. References can be conducted via phone or email.

Reference call questions

  • In what capacity did you two work together?
  • What was your role/their role at the time?
  • What stood out as [candidate]‘s greatest strengths?
  • If you were writing their annual review today, where would they have an opportunity to improve or build on their skills?
  • What would make [candidate] happy and motivated in a new role?
  • Was there ever a time where [candidate] was disrespectful in any way to other members of the team?
  • Do you have any advice for their future manager?
  • If given the opportunity, would you hire [candidate] again?

Example email to send to references

Hi Reference Name,

Candidate Name provided your name as a professional reference, and I was hoping you would be open to telling me a bit about your experience working with them.  For context, we are considering Candidate name for an role title role here at Sourcegraph, and are looking for someone who is insert what we're looking for in this person.

If you’re willing, would you mind responding to this email with brief answers to the below questions?  And if you prefer a phone call, please let me know a few days/times that work for you in the coming days and I’ll send a calendar invite to confirm.

Thanks so much in advance for taking the time!  It’s greatly appreciated.

  • In what capacity did the two of you work?
  • What were their day to day responsibilities?
  • What were their greatest strengths?
  • How would their peers describe them? How do they work with a team?
  • Did they have any opportunities for improvement? What would you advise a future manager to coach them on?
  • Would you hire or work with them again, if given the opportunity?  Are they someone you recommend?
  • Is there anything else I should know that I didn’t ask above?


Recruiter Name