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Here are the five questions I typically ask when recruiting references for a job search. 

  1. I am re-entering the job market.  (Explain the job you are pursuing or provide a brief positive explanation of why you are making the change.) Would you be comfortable serving as s reference?
  2. I want this to be a learning experience and a chance to advance my career.  Would you mind sharing your assessment with me?   What are my strengths?  My weaknesses? 
  3. What value did I bring to the organization?  What was my most significant success?
  4. What was my most significant setback?  What do you think I should have done differently?
  5. What qualities do I need to focus on to improve as a leader?

Listen closely takes notes.  The information each reference shares will help you prepare for the job interviews ahead.