Now, because every job varies slightly, as do work environments, there probably will be some special concerns the hiring manager will want to build into his standard list of reference questions. Let’s refer back to the example in Part 1 of this Blog involving the “practical” job requirements of managing mature, long-tenured employees. Knowing that a new manager will face a different set of challenges than would be present with a younger group still in the process of growing into their jobs, it will probably be important to tailor or supplement the reference interview questions to address this particular concern that clearly will not be found in the formal job description.

In this instance, it would be entirely appropriate to ask references (toward the end of the conversation) something like, “The group that so-and-so will be managing has been with the company for a considerable length of time and are pretty set in their ways. How do you think so-and-so will do trying to initiate change within that sort of group?”

Clearly, the foregoing question isn’t going to appear on a standard list of reference questions, but in this instance it’s probably of equal “practical” importance to include it, in terms of making a good hiring decision.

So, to get a good sense of how the candidate’s past job performance will fit the requirements of this particular job, supplementing an otherwise standard list of reference questions makes perfectly good sense. It does, however, put added responsibility on the person doing the hiring to carefully evaluate the “practical” and unique requirements of the job that don’t appear anywhere in the formal job description.