When contacting an employment reference, the checker should confirm the candidate's job title, duties, salary, and start and end dates with that company. One of the primary purposes of a reference check is to verify work history revealed on a job candidate's application.
Another reason for a reference check is to learn specifics about past work performance. This information helps the hiring manager determine whether the candidate is a good fit for both the job position and the company's culture.
Questions to ask about work performance include: What was the reference's relationship to this individual and how long did the two work together? What were the applicant's job duties? How well did the individual perform those duties and participate as a team member? What are this person's strengths and weaknesses? Would you hire this person again?
Some companies do not comment on much more than the most basic employment information. The reference checker may get a "no comment" from a former employer when asking about work performance. This should not be considered an indicator of poor past performance; such a response may be simply company policy for all reference inquiries.
Designing a reference check form with a standard set of questions allows a company to gather similar information on job candidates, making comparison easier and aiding the hiring manager in determining who to hire.