According to Toronto recruiters, checking references should be viewed as an integral part of the hiring process. After all, you’re talking to people who have already worked with your preferred candidate. And while there is some overlap, the questions that you ask when checking references for a contract role, can be different than those you would ask for a permanent hire.
Question 1: How would you rate his/her project management skills?
Sometimes a contract role exists because the current team is struggling with workload demands. Often times, however, a consultant is brought in because they have a specialized skill set. This means that much of contract work is about project management. Great consultants can hit deadlines, are solutions-focused and able to see the big picture and how to achieve it.
Question 2: How well does the candidate operate in ambiguity?
In contract roles candidates have limited context. As a result, you’ll need someone who can operate well in ambiguity, and who has the resourcefulness to navigate new situations.
Question 3: How would you rate his/her communication skills?
A great consultant has superior communication skills. They understand what you’re looking for, can internalize your message and then create a plan to meet objectives. They are able to adapt their communication style to different audiences and have strong written/presentation skills. They can build relationships quickly with both finance and non-finance peers, as well as with senior leadership.
Download “Performance Traits and Hiring Decisions” to get an insider’s look at which traits (hint: communication skills rank first) best determine the success of a hire.
Question 4: What is his/her greatest strength? Weakness?
Does the contract demand that a candidate be particularly strong in one area? Could a potential weakness derail even the most determined candidate?
Question 5: What do you wish that you knew about the candidate at the start of the contract that you didn’t learn until the end?
Some candidates start well and then peter out, while others get stronger as the contract progresses. In many ways, this question allows you to benefit from their experience with the candidate, to learn about the candidate’s natural working style and how best to use him/her.
- Here are a few standard questions to consider:
- How would you rate their technical accounting skills?
- How would you rate their systems skills? Excel skills?
- How well do they take feedback?
- Do they work better in a team, individually or do they in excel in both?
- Would you hire the candidate again?
- Ask questions that address the candidate’s communication skills
- Inquire about the candidate’s project management skills
- Confirm that the candidate can operate well in ambiguity
- Determine what the candidate’s greatest strength and weakness are
- Ask what was learned about the candidate during the contract that might facilitate success or be a potential pitfall
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