Finally! You made it past the interview stages and jumped through all the hoops!

You are feeling great about the opportunity and eagerly awaiting that next phone call or email that starts with, “We have decided to make you an offer.”

Suddenly, you read an email from your hopeful “future employer” that says that they will be contacting your references.

Reference checks carry a strong opinion within companies, hiring managers, and employees everywhere.

What if I told you that there is a great deal of value from the type of questions presented during reference checks when YOU ask them during your time as an employee?

A good reference check consists of 5-7 open-ended questions that allow the reference (usually a former manager) to take a moment and think through interactions, situations, and accomplishments that the two of you shared during your time working together. Honestly, with every employee juggling all of their responsibilities, this reference check may be the first moment the manager has had the opportunity to reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, and more.

Why not change that? Why not use the same “reference check” philosophy and open-ended questions to create an open line of communication with your manager to help you in your career?

So, here are five (5) of the most asked “Reference Check” questions that you should know the answers to before providing a manager as a reference.
What significant accomplishments did (insert your name here) have, and how did it impact the organization?

Gaining your manager’s opinion on what they feel your major accomplishments have been can often reveal what you specifically have done that has made their life easier. If your manager is having trouble thinking of something, then this should be a clue that you need to either seek out more opportunities to make an impact or give you a chance to discuss some of the things you feel might have made a big difference.

What are (insert your name here)’s greatest strengths?

Will your answers align with your manager’s? Some examples of strengths might include: CREATIVITY, DEDICATION, DETERMINATION, DISCIPLINE, ENTHUSIASM, PATIENCE, RESPECTFULNESS

What are (insert your name here)’s areas for improvement?

This question will often and NEED TO go hand in hand with number 2. If a person is open to praise, then they need to also welcome criticism. Questions number 1 and 2 are crucial to creating an open line of communication with your manager and show that you welcome areas for growth. Understanding where your manager feels that you could improve while you are still reporting to them, can be a power move for your career.

How would you rate (insert your name here)’s work?

This question is about as open-ended as you can get and not the easiest to present to a manager. However, in a world that is turning more agile and deliverables are due daily, this question is a great chance to gauge your work quality with your manager. Life is moving fast, and often deliverables are accepted, or they are not. Asking this simple question can help your good become great, and your great to become “exceeding expectations.”

If an opportunity for growth had been available for (insert your name here), would they have been considered? If not, why?

In my opinion, this question is one of the most valuable questions asked in a reference check. It is also one of the most valuable questions that you can ask your manager.

Here’s the most important part though, DO NOT WAIT for a growth opportunity to open up before you ask this question.

This question will reveal your growth intention to your manager and allow them to start proactively considering you in that light. So, if growth is important to you… then incorporate this question into an open line of communication with your manager.

Love them or hate them, there is power in the knowledge of a good reference check. Don’t wait until you are interviewing with your hopeful “future employer” to find out the answers to these questions.