The employers do check your references and there are a couple of things that they ask:- Employment verification, workplace performance and personality and well roundedness.
Employment verification: The hiring manager wants to confirm whether you did actually work with this reference, the dates of your employment and the reference’s relationship to you (boss, peer, etc.). It is extremely essential that their story matches that of the candidate. If the candidate says it was a mutual parting, but the reference says they were let go then there will a problem.
Workplace performance: It is normal for a hiring manager to dig deeper into your workplace performance after he’s done with the basic questions. The following questions are the ones usually asked:
What would you say are their strongest attributes?
How would you describe their interpersonal skills?
What would you say motivated the individual most?
Would you rehire or recommend the individual for rehire?
Personality and well-roundedness: even though employers gain important insight with work-performance questions but they do not give the whole picture. For instance, for a better understanding of the candidates personality an employer may ask, “Would you trust the reference to watch your children if you were away on vacation?” Or, “Would you take the candidate to dinner at a nice restaurant with your parents/spouse/significant other?”
The things that a reference tells are very telling but it is better for a reference to be a previous manager or a supervisor than a sibling or a best friend.
You will not know the exact questions a hiring manager will ask your references, but it is better to prepare the references for the call. The first thing to do is to let the references know that they are the one. Ask your contacts first before giving their information to the employer.
You don’t want your references to be caught off guard and failing to recall what it is that you were working on while them.