Reference Checks

Executive search magic 8ball imageYou have found the ideal candidate, or so it seems, but how do you know if the experience on the resume is true, the education level is what is seems and the person is going to show up every day? The answers are in the reference check.

With Whom Should You Speak?
Depending on the position you may decide that you want to speak with supervisors, supervisees and co-workers. For a senior level position, speaking to all three will give you the best picture of who the person is as well as how well previous relationships have been maintained. Your investment in this upfront time is well worth the investment. Want an example?

Not long ago I was hiring someone who gave me three references. None of which were her most recent position. Her reasoning was that it was a position that was not relevant to the position I was looking to fill, and she had left her last job rather abruptly. I took her for her word, checked with the two references, with whom I was able to get in touch, hired her, and stopped thinking about my decision. A month into her employment she didn’t show up for work. In fact, it was weeks before I heard from her again. If I had pushed the issue and spoken to her most recent reference, I suspect they would have told me that she disappeared from time-to-time for personal issues.

The moral of the story is: always speak with someone from his/her most recent position. If it ended poorly, the reasoning might not be relevant to you. Don’t hold it against her if she was horrible at answering phones if your position will never require her to do so. In fact, you may take it as a sign that she understands her strengths and weaknesses enough to never seek a phone position again.

What Should You Ask?
Mersky, Jaffe & Associates has cultivated a long list of questions to be used when interviewing references for our executive search clients. Here are a few examples that you might consider employing the next time you are checking a reference:

      1. How long have you known the candidate?


      2. Please comment on his/her work-style.


      3. Is the candidate a people person?


      4. How does the candidate relate to volunteer leadership, staff whom he/she supervises, and his/her supervisors?


      5. Is he/she a team player?


    6. Please evaluate his/her integrity.

For more examples or to guarantee your future employee will stay employed with your organization for at least a year, please contact Michael Jaffe at Mersky, Jaffe & Associates.