"She's a real team player." "Needs minimum supervision". "Positive self-starter". I'm sure you've heard this schtick from listed references before, and when it comes to assessing candidates, it's not really going to help you. When a reference is too overwhelmingly positive to be of real use, you're going to need to dig a little deeper and prod at them to get something worth learning about. In this sort of conversation, it's all about how you frame the questions. Try the below methods to learn something about your candidate that your reference might not otherwise tell you.