Not All Reference Checks Say Good Things – 54% Have Received Bad References

I was recently facilitating our, You’re NOT The Person I Hired, workshop with CEOs and key executives. As is often the case, the subject of reference checking came up. Most in the audience tended to agree that checking references is a waste of time. After all, candidates only give references they are sure will say positive things about them. Don’t you agree?

Then a CFO sitting in the back raised his hand to disagree. He told the story of a controller he was about to hire near the border in Texas. This was a difficult position to fill as there were a lot of specific requirements. Finally, after an arduous search he found his person. She had all of the qualifications and most importantly he really like her. The final step was to conduct a few reference checks. She handed him a list of 30 references. WOW he thought, this person really has a lot of people willing to vouch for her.  Then he picked 5 of them and started calling. The first call was to a former boss. He introduced himself and explained that he was calling to conduct a reference check on Mary. The line went silent. The pause was so long that he thought they were disconnected and asked if the reference was still on the line. The reference replied yes and then stated, “Mary gave me as reference? I can’t believe it. We fired her because she stole from us. She did pay us back but she stole from us.” Now there was silence from him. He didn’t know what to say or how to respond.

This is just one of many examples of what can happen on a reference check and why you should always perform your due diligence. Granted, this may only happen once in your career, but in this case the once may have saved the company thousands if she has stolen again.

I have conducted thousands of reference checks in my 30 year career as an executive recruiter. I have learned that more often than not someone will give me a reference they expect to be positive and it turns negative. It is for this reason that I always check references. Like the CFO in this example, it has saved me from making some big mistakes. It only takes one bad reference to realize that catching that one person was worth all the others.

If you have stories or experiences regarding strange things that have happened when you have conducted a reference check I would love to hear about them and share them with others. Please take a moment to tell others your story.

I conducted a poll on LinkedIn in which 54% replied that they have had people give them a negative reference. This goes to show that even though the person giving the reference expects a positive reference they often don't get one

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, You’re NOT The Person I Hired. Just CLICK HERE  and under the FREE Hiring Resources section you can download our free eBook.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

Brad

 

Is Reference Checking Worthwhile?

Q. What do you recommend when it comes to checking references and is it even worth the effort?

Reference checking when done correctly can be very powerful. I believe the problem isn't with checking references, but rather how the reference check is performed.

Most reference checking is more of a box checking exercise than what it really should be, which is validating that the candidate really did what they told you in the interview. That should be the focus of a reference check.

Good reference checking starts with good interviewing. Train your people to ask for examples in the interview. Probe deeply into those examples to get time frames, budget, size, issues they overcame, problems they solved, why they did X instead of Y and so on.  Then instead of asking the standard box checking questions everyone asks, change the reference check. Ask the reference, “During the interview, Mary indicated she did X, can you tell me more about what her role was and some of the more difficult issues she had to overcome?” Does the reference's story validate what the candidate told you or is it something different? Was the candidate accurate or did they embellish? When references are done properly they can provide a wealth of valuable information.

Retaining your best talent is always the best thing any company can do. Download our FREE  Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognitions Matrix. It will help you retain your best people without additional compensation. CLICK HERE to download under the Free Resources section.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives and HR professionals and download a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.”  Just CLICK HERE for your FREE eBook.

I welcome your comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard

 

Changing How You Check References

Q. Is checking a candidate’s references worth the effort since most companies won’t give references anyway?

I conduct reference checks on every candidate I represent for one of our searches. I believe this is part of the due diligence process prior to hiring someone. Top talent have references and can always provide someone either currently in the company or that has left the company. I discovered long ago that CEOs violate their own policy on references for top performers. They will never do it for anyone else.

It is important to inform the candidate at the beginning of the hiring process that references will be required. Too often companies wait until the end of the process before asking for references. Letting the candidate know that this is not a request, but a requirement up front is critical to getting proper references.

The common belief that candidates will only give you references they know will say positive things, isn’t always true. Often it is not what the reference says, but how they say it that counts.

In our search practice it is our policy that if a candidate can only provide references that will only provide name, rank and serial number that is code for walk away. Top talent have references.

Join the other 10,000 CEO's, key executives, and HR professionals who have downloaded a FREE copy of our best selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.” Just CLICK HERE for your FREE ebook.

Want to assess your hiring process? Download our FREE 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard. How does your company rank on these critical points? CLICK HERE to download.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. If you liked this article and found it helpful, please forward it to others.

Brad Remillard

Using A Personality Assessment Can Be Helpful

Q. Our company is considering using personality or behavioral testing prior to hiring people. What has been your experience with using these?

I’m a strong believer in using some sort of assessment prior to hiring someone, especially for key employees. These assessments can add a lot of valuable insight about the candidate. Not all assessments measure the same thing, so it is important to know what it is you want to assess. There are general assessments, ones specific to functional areas such as sales, ones that measure intelligence, many assess a person’s communication style, and still others target specific aspects of the candidate’s personality and behaviors. Selecting the right assessment for what you want to measure is critical.

It is also important to have enough peer level people take the same assessment to use as a benchmark. An assessment that shows how the candidate stacks up against the others is very useful information. Over time the assessment will reveal the traits of those hires that are successful and those that didn’t work out. Identifying the traits of both is important when assessing the candidate.

Want some tips on attracting top talent? Download the chapter from our book, You're NOT The Person I Hired, on sourcing. CLICK HERE to download this chapter.

Want to assess your hiring process? Download our FREE 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard. How does your company rank on these critical points? CLICK HERE to download.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. If you liked this article and found it helpful, please forward it to others.

Brad Remillard

Boost Productivity in Tough Times By Getting Connected to Your People

“Watch your words: they become your thoughts.
Watch your thoughts: they become your actions.
Watch your actions: they become your habits.
Watch your habits: they become your destiny.”

Frank Outlaw

Personality tests not only help when hiring, they just might be a manager’s best tool to connect with employees.

You can manage the hard way or the easy way, the choice is up to you.  The hard way is to be the “my way or the highway” type of boss.  You know the kind, always forcing workers to do things in a way that isn’t natural for them. Wouldn’t it be better to use your understanding of personality traits to tap into the natural flow so you can get the best out of your people? Of course, knowing your employees, understanding their concerns, and developing connected relationships with them should be the normal procedure for all managers.

What is the payoff to a manager for developing connected relationships with employees using personality assessments? Here are three good benefits. First, it enables the manager to better anticipate what roadblocks might occur with a worker, and what to try to reduce this resistance. Second, understanding where employees are coming from will help you plan out how much participation you need from them, and will give some clues as to how change should be communicated to them. Third, building connected relationships builds commitment and loyalty.

Take The Connected Leader Test

How connected are you as a manager?  To find out, we asked our colleague Dr. Bruce Heller, an industrial psychologist with 20 years experience, to help us design a quick connected leader self test.  Once you answer the questions, we will provide you with specific tips and ideas that you can begin to implement immediately.  For most managers, leadership does not come naturally.  The tips we share will help you to become a better listener and a more connected leader.  Employee buy-in comes when a manager is able to listen attentively, understand their needs and concerns, and to lead using your natural style.

To read more about this topic and how to use in-depth work style and personality assessments during your selection process as well as gathering mentoring and coaching ideas, you can order our book, Cracking The Personality Code by visiting www.crackingthepersonalitycode.com.

To begin taking the connected leadership test, please click here.

To sum up, we all want to be understood. Employee buy-in comes when a manager is able to listen attentively, understand them as people and to lead naturally.

Dana Borowka

P.S. Discover the importance of personal style and fit when trying to hire top talent by taking our Hiring Methodology Assessment. After determining that the candidate can achieve the required results, you can then determine how you'll get along with them and whether they'll be a fit in your culture. Style and fit are two important elements to measure for a successful hire. Take the assessment and discover whether you're effectively measuring these two elements.