Nobody's exactly thrilled to have to list their references in a job application. And on the other side of the same coin, hiring managers tend to downplay, overlook, or skip this part of the interview process all together.
Obviously, managers know they should call those handful of names and numbers supplied by the applicant, and this handy list from betterhiringtoday.com might make those cold calls a little more focused and painless.
First off, don't outsource those calls to someone in another department. These calls are your only chance to hear about the applicant from another source, and the information gained from such conversations doesn't exactly have the same impact in a written report. For example, really listen to the reference's vocal inflections. As betterhiringtoday.com puts it:
Does it sound like the reference is holding back on something negative? Are you getting stonewalled on your questions? Just scratching the surface? Getting nothing more than one-word answers?
All the more reason to take your time with these calls and explore anything you feel might require follow-up questions. A good way to get at the heart of the matter is by asking whether the reference would hire them again. In a way, that tells you almost everything you need to know.
Read the full checklist over at betterhiringtoday.com.