Reference checking is a standard although flawed process. Candidates choose references that will speak positively about them so hiring managers are expecting glowing references with little valuable information. If a hiring manager hears anything that sounds the least negative they immediately see red flags.
Instead of your reference checks being a standard procedure with little information, you can have your reference check enhance your candidacy. Once your interview is over you will have a great deal of information about the position, the qualities the hiring manager likes about you, and any hesitations the hiring manager may have about hiring you. This is all very important information your references need to know.
Call your references and prepare them for the reference check call. Tell them about the critical requirements of the position, how you fit the position, and your strongest selling points. Tell them what the hiring manager likes about you and ask them to highlight those points. Mention any concerns the hiring manager has and ask your reference to talk positively about those areas.
The Business Pundit in his online blog suggests that hiring manager ask references the following questions:
* What did he learn during his time at your company
* If you could give him a single career suggestion, what would it be?
(If the reference was a supervisor)
* How did the candidate respond to your management style?
* Would you rehire her
You can discuss these questions with your references and prepare them with answers.