Tell me a bit about the context of your work w/ Dwight.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate them against other (Candidate's role) with whom you've worked? From “I’d never work with Dwight again” to "I wouldn't start another project without Dwight?"
What surprised you about them when you first started working with Dwight?
Try to elicit both positives and negatives, and how opinion possibly changed over time, or not.
What are Dwight's top strengths?
What are Dwight's main areas for growth? ( We can soften this depending on how revealing the reference is...)
Alternative: If I were to walk around the office and talk to the Dwight‘s peers, what do you think they'd tell me about them? What if I asked them about their areas of development?'
What was the most difficult piece of feedback Dwight received while working with you? From you or someone else? How did they respond? What was the rate of change? How many times did they get this feedback?
On what types of projects does Dwight really shine?
What projects would you avoid putting them on?
What were their interactions like with X team? (Engineering, Sales, Design, etc... whomever the Candidate will be working with most)
What is Dwight's way of disagreeing or pushing back? Do you have an example? (Again, can soften this question depending on the reference)
What will I discover about working with Dwight in the first three months?
Describe the role Dwight will take at your company... any reactions?
What advice would you give to their new manager to help make sure they are successful, engaged, and happy?
Under what circumstances would you hire/work with them again?
When building new systems, how would you describe their initial designs? Does they tend to provide multiple options or one? Do they tend to be "obvious" or "crazy"? How are they generally received by their peers?
How would you describe their PRs? Are they generally small or large? Do they tend to get a lot of feedback from others or generally get rubber stamped? What type of feedback is most common for them to receive?
How well do they work in someone else's code? Are they as fluid as they is in their own, or at the other extreme, does they tend to want to rewrite it before they can work in it?
How good a debugger are they? The type of person that gets handed the toughest bugs on the team or not? Do they tend to fix small bugs fast or take bugs and end up pulling a thread to fix a broader area?