During the 30+ years we’ve been in business, we have encountered numerous reasons why it is never a good idea to base a job offer on nothing more than a job interview or even multiple interviews. Why? Well, to put it simply, there are people out there who have great interviewing skills but who have a history of poor job performance. The reverse is also true. There are people out there who simply don’t interview well who have great track records of solid job performance. The only way to tell the difference is by careful reference checking.

I recall one instance where the prospective employer was prepared to make a job offer to an individual who had been very impressive in a series of job interviews. “He knows all the answers to our questions. He presented himself well, and he seems to be technically competent. But, just to be safe, we thought we ought to have you check his references.”

During my conversation with the candidate’s first reference, I asked the question, “What do you think so-and-so’s main strength was.” There was a long pause. The reference then sighed and said, “Interviewing.”


“Yeah, we interviewed the guy, and he knew all the answers to our questions. He presented himself well, and he seemed to be technically competent. It took us about six months to figure out that he could only do about a third of what he claimed he could. I wish now we’d had you check his references before we hired him.” Incidentally, all three of his references basically told the same story.

When I called the prospective employer, you could almost hear their chins drop over the phone. They were prepared to offer the candidate a salary in the six-figure range. If it had taken them six months to discover what the previous employer had found, it would have been a very expensive hiring mistake for them, indeed.

On the other hand, there have been candidates for employment who couldn’t say “boo to a goose” during a job interview who have performed extremely well over an extended period of time – they just don’t interview very well!

So, does it ever make sense to rely on the old “gut instinct” when it comes to making a hiring decision? Absolutely not…