Hiring Managers: Check References Yourself

I was a reference for a senior manager the other day. A lovely HR person called and asked me a bunch of generic questions about the senior manager. Unfortunately, she didn’t ask me any of the important questions. It sounded as if her reference check was a standard set of questions, usable for anyone in the organization.

If the hiring manager (yes, the CEO here) had called, I would have been able to supply him with necessary information about the senior manager. But because he wasn’t asking the questions, I’m not sure the HR rep heard my answers, and understood what those answers meant as a reference for a senior exec.

For example, senior managers who don’t work well with others don’t succeed. This senior manager works very well with other people – she builds relationships even with jerks 🙂 But when the HR rep asked me about the senior manager’s ability to get along with others, she was thinking about the manager-employee relationship, not the management peer relationship. One is as necessary as the other for senior managers. A missed opportunity on a reference check.

If you’re thinking of hiring someone, check references yourself. Don’t delegate reference checks. You’ll be able to take advantage of serendipitous moments and learn more about the candidate — what you need to know.

I’m conferencing again this week (AYE conference, where I’m leading a session about interviewing), so don’t expect much blogging this week again.

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