Our Solid Approach To Employee Reference Checks

employee reference checks

Employee reference checks are one of the best ways to garner outside perspective on a potential new hire.

Asking references the right questions is the first step. At Y Scouts, we take a three-pronged approach to employee reference checks that you’ll want to mull over before your next hiring spree.

Employee Reference Checks 101

The Y Scouts method of identifying a top job candidate includes three descriptors:

  1. How does the candidate drive results?
  2. In what way does the candidate help develop others?
  3. How does the candidate practice relentless learning?

Here’s the solid Y Scouts approach to tackling employee reference checks using our list of exceptional behaviors practiced by a true leader.

Driving Results

Frame the reference questions around specific times the candidate has driven results. For instance, was there a project that showcased his or her leadership skills? Dig deeper to learn how the candidate approaches team and individual projects.

At Y Scouts, we perceive a candidate who can truly drive results within a role as a leader.

It’s also a good idea to see what kind of energy the candidate brings into a room, and how that might have boosted workplace productivity or work enjoyment. Furthermore, understanding how the candidate was a driver of results will help you picture what success might look like with him or her in your office as a new hire.

employee reference checks

If you have overseen others in that same position, what separated this candidate from the top performer in this role? What could he or she have done differently for you to say this candidate was #1?

Overall, pinpoint how a potential new hire in your company has exemplified leadership from driving results. Employee reference checks will help steer you in the right direction.

Developing Others

Another excellent item in the Y Scouts approach to employee reference checks involves learning how the candidate has helped develop others. For instance: How would this candidate rank compared to others in the same position who have reported to you over the years—in terms of developing others?

Aside from growing as a leader, it’s important to know how the candidate has helped others blossom in their roles, too. 

Through the Y Scouts method, a reference check should reveal how a candidate took the initiative to help others complete their best work. How he or she handled delicate situations with fellow team members speaks volumes, too. This second category opens the door for a reference to disclose specific examples of the candidate’s efforts in leadership.

Relentless Learner

A candidate must exhibit a willingness to learn and to apply new knowledge. This third tier of the Y Scouts leadership characteristics is crucial in employee reference checks.

What did the candidate teach you and learn from you (or other sources) while he or she was working with you?

Delving into workplace challenges that frightened or excited the candidate helps determine how he or she fares as a possible leader on your own team. Furthermore, the way in which a potential hire responds to various challenges can reveal traits of a relentless learner.

employee reference checks

Does this leader seek out new knowledge and fresh ways of approaching projects? References can also provide some of the most reliable ways to discover this. Thus, employee reference checks—when considered using the three Y Scouts leadership qualities—can help you hire a true relentless learner.


Y Scouts uses these three categories to identify the best of the best leaders for a business. Whether it means gauging how the candidate performs under pressure or measuring strengths and weaknesses, this design helps smoothly guide the hiring process.

Employee reference checks are not necessarily about asking a certain question. Rather, they allow the reference to provide an open, honest assessment of a leader. These references know what it’s like to work with this person. They know if the leader is exceptional, good, or merely average. Our Y Scouts clients want exceptional, so the three-tiered approach helps us place great leaders within great companies.

How do you tackle employee reference checks? Let us know!

Y Scouts is a leadership search firm that finds purpose-aligned and performance-proven leaders to help organizations achieve their missions faster. Ready to supercharge your leadership search and get the right person in your organization? Contact Y Scouts.