Even if you have a clear choice already made, or know the individual from past associations, reference checking is not only due diligence, but can also provide useful input as you enter a consulting relationship.
Don’t limit yourself to the names the consultant has offered. Ask around, look at the consultant’s client list or website, and consult your interview notes for engagements that were mentioned. You or your colleagues may know someone connected to the organization and be able to follow up informally.
Sample Questions to Use with References
When was the project conducted?
What was the consultant’s role?
Who did the work? Who was expected to do the work?
What were the consultant’s greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
How well did the consultant interact with and draw out the various personalities involved in the process?
Was the consultant skilled at facilitation?
How well was your project completed? Did you get what you wanted? For the promised budget? On the promised timeline? If not, why not?
What was the outcome of the project?
How well did the consultant prepare for/and follow up meetings?
Was the consultant timely in getting back to you, delivering work products, etc.?
Was the consultant responsive to your feedback or direction?
Did the project stay on budget?
How well was the agency's mission understood?
Was the consultant's analysis of the problem accurate?
Did she/he offer solid recommendations?
What would you do differently if working with them again?