Appendix B: Reference Checks

Essential and Recommended Questions

Essential Questions for Persons Under Consideration for Positions in Ministry Religious Education, Church Music, Church Administration, and Contact with Vulnerable People

Adapt, as appropriate, if talking with a personal reference versus an employment reference.

Hello. My name is ______. I’m a member of (name of congregation). (Name of candidate) has applied for the position of (name of position) within our congregation. I have the responsibility to contact individuals who know (him / her) to better understand if (he / she) is a good match for the job.

May I ask you some questions?

  1. What is your relationship with (name of candidate)?
  2. How long have you known him/her?
  3. Describe the work for which he/she was responsible?
  4. On a scale of 10 with 10 being the highest, how well did he/she perform in the job?
    Please elaborate, sharing his/her strongest attributes and areas in which he/she could have performed better.
  5. What was/is his/her reason for leaving your employ?
  6. Would you consider rehiring (name of candidate), if the occasion arose?
    If no, please explain why?
  7. To your knowledge, has he/she ever been accused of any behaviors that would be considered unethical, inappropriate, illegal?
    Please explain:
  8. (Name of candidate) will be working with children. Is there any reason to believe that children would not be safe with him/her?
    If yes, please explain:

Additional Recommended Questions for Non-Ministerial Candidates

  1. How would you describe the applicant’s relationship with others? (If talking with a former employer, you might ask specifically about relationships with coworkers, subordinates (if applicable), and with supervisor.
  2. Does the candidate have a positive or a negative attitude?
    Please elaborate:
  3. The position for which he/she is being considered is (elaborate). How well would you expect him/her to perform in this role?
  4. Are there any other comments you wish to make about this candidate?

Additional Recommended Questions for Ministerial Candidates

(adapted from the Ministerial Settlement Resources Guide (PDF) of the UUA)
  1. As far as you know does ______ have clear personal and professional boundaries? i.e. can they say no when to many demands are put upon her/his personal time?
  2. Does ______ tend to have a strong support system?
  3. Does ______ have strong family ties?
  4. Is ______ warm and available to her/his congregants?
  5. Is ______ a strong leader?
  6. Does ______ implement the vision of the congregation with clarity?
  7. Is ______ strong on pastoral care? Describe please.
  8. Have you known of a personal life crisis that ______ has had and how did he/she handle it?
  9. Have you experienced or do you have a perception of how ______ would handle a difference of opinion issues with a congregant?
  10. Have you experienced or do you have a perception of how ______ would handle a difficult pastoral care issue?
  11. What is the most significant contribution that ______ has made to the UU ministry?
  12. What has been the greatest challenge presented to ______ ?
  13. Is there anything in his/her personal and professional life that we should know?
  14. Would you want ______ as your minister?
  15. At this point ask the Reference to add whatever they wish.