I regularly get asked to give references for former colleagues who have moved on to other career opportunities. Most of the reference check calls are pretty perfunctory, but today I got asked a great question: "What skills do you think we should help [name] improve on here if we hire them?" I can see immediately that it's a great positive way to ask about shortcomings, but also a great way so show support for career growth if you want to emphasize that. In this case, it would be their first direct line management position, so I emphasized their readiness for a management role and how the company could support that. And now I have a new question to ask when I call to check references!