Employee reference checks typically involve the hiring manager reaching out to the people the applicant lists as references either via email or over the phone to discuss the nature of their relationship and why the person endorses the applicant for the job. This may include verifying work dates, discussing the applicant's performance on the job or finding out other personal details, depending on the nature of the relationship.
Applicants typically list personal or professional references on resumes and job applications to serve as character witnesses by answering questions from potential employers. Checking these references typically occurs over the phone to allow for a direct and immediate interaction between hiring managers and references, though email correspondences are also acceptable. The process functions as a type of interview in which the subject is the applicant, with many hiring managers starting off asking about how the applicant and the reference know one another.
The hiring manager should also verify any claims the applicant makes through references whenever possible, such as confirming the reason for leaving a previous job or participation in a specific program or organization. The hiring manager should also ask the reference about the best and worst qualities of the applicant to build a thorough understanding beyond the information in the resume. This may also include focusing on specific details of the relationship or confirming observations from an interview with the applicant.