Mt Tam © 2023 Maïa Cybelle Carpenter

Best practices for reference checks for support roles (EA, EO, EBP, CoS)

Maïa Cybelle Carpenter

At Carpenter Consulting Partners, Inc, we recommend that our clients conduct at least two recent reference calls and a background check. When you hire an Executive Operations, Executive Assistant/Business Partner or Chief of Staff you are hiring someone who will have a huge impact on your leadership, your company AND will have access to confidential business and personal information. Additionally, when a hiring manager connects with the candidates current or previous hiring manager or peers, you can learn information on how to retain your new employee. After all, they are leaving or have left their previous employer!

When you are our client, all of the candidates that we recommend you interview will have a minimum of two, recent and relevant references.  We require 1-2 manager and 1 peer reference from their most recent employers. 

Please make sure to mitigate bias in your reference checks by asking references exactly the same questions. This also allows you to check for consistency. Here are some questions we recommend you ask during your reference checks:

  1. What is your current role? 
  2. What is/was your relationship to the candidate and at what company?
  3. How long did you manage or work together?
  4. What was the biggest impact of this employee on your team, organization or on you? How did they go above and beyond their role? 
  5. Any relevant project examples?
  6. What was this employee known for at your company? Or How did they contribute to company culture? 
  7. How would you rate the candidates work ethic on a scale of 1-10 (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest)
  8. How would you describe their ability to co-create and collaborate with others? You may choose to share some examples that the candidate gave you during the interview process to get an additional perspective.
  9. Are there any areas that you think the candidate can improve? If so, please give a detailed example. You may also share areas for improvement that the candidate shared with you during the interview process and ask their reference if they agree or disagree.
  10. As the candidate’s new manager, are there any things that I can do to support their growth and development? Or What is your advice on retaining this employee? 
  11. Is there anyone else you think I should speak with regarding the candidates? If yes, please ask the candidate’s permission before reaching out to this person. We do not support back-door references as they can significantly increase bias and are inequitable.
  12. Anything else you’d like to share that is relevant? Any questions for me?

Maïa Cybelle Carpenter

CEO, Carpenter Consulting Partners, Inc.

More stories...