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How To Bypass the B.S. and Get the Dirt From Candidate Reference Checks (Part 1)
In an employer’s ideal world, a candidate’s references would provide a treasure trove of information…from the minutiae of their legal experience to the skeletons in their closet.
But in the real world, references are rarely believed to add value. And are increasingly used as box checking exercises to satisfy HR hiring requirements. Why? Because hiring managers typically encounter one of the following when checking references…The candidate reference: (1) can only verify employment (2) is positive about everything (3) is too generic in his/her commentary (4) avoids direct questions by spinning answers (5) has not worked with the candidate in a meaningful way; (6) when asked about negatives/weaknesses, either doesn’t provide any or will use a “weakness” that an employer might perceive as a positive. Ex: “Kate can sometimes work too hard.” So employers leave the conversation frustrated with no more information than they started. This has left some hiring managers ditching the exercise altogether, while others search for a better way.
So is there a better way? Yes.
But it takes time and effort…from the employer to make it work. First, a few important things to know:
With a greater understanding of these reference check realities, you can manage your expectations and be better prepared as you create a winning plan to extract the most valuable information about your candidate.
Part 2 of this question (my next post) will take you through the framework for conducting an effective reference check: The best approach and the (specific) questions to ask – to get you the answers you need…and deserve.
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