Background Checks

In this section we’ll be looking for responses that are totally subjective in nature but essential to getting a clearer sense of how the candidate actually performed.  These questions are designed to begin to probe for specific qualities that support and, more importantly, explain the general responses to earlier questions.

  1. “How would you compare the candidate’s overall performance to that of others with whom you’ve worked who were doing essentially the same job?”

Rationale:  No matter what the reference said about main strengths or areas that need improvement in the previous two questions, this one will help put those responses into the proper perspective.  Let’s say a reference raved about a candidate’s management skill as a main strength.  Following that response with a question about comparing the candidate’s overall performance to others he’s worked with will help put the earlier response in a clearer perspective – depending on the answer to this question.  For instance, if the response is something like, “Well, compared to others I’ve worked with, I’d say he was slightly above average.”  Now, that response brings the previous response into much sharper focus and may prompt further questions that come to mind.

  1. “What do you think motivates him to want to do a good job?”

Rationale:  This is an important change-of-pace question that, hopefully, will give you insight into what you need to do to make sure the candidate stays motivated and, on the other hand, to rule out any candidate who’s motivation is incompatible with the your company’s mission statement or corporate culture.  If, for instance, one of the company’s goals is to create an atmosphere that fosters loyalty to the organization and the answer to the foregoing question is “money,” then the candidate may not be right for the job.  On the other hand, if the company is all about the bottom line, then he may fit right in!   The point is you need to know what makes the candidate get out of bed in the morning and show up for work – and perform well.