Reference Checks

“The candidate grew his last company successfully, so he must be great!”

Remember the point about reference checking that one of its most basic purposes is to evaluate job performance over time? It seems logical to assume that, if a candidate enjoyed success in the past, he’ll continue to be successful. But be careful! This misconception is precisely why careful reference checking is so important. There are simply too many unknowns to assume that past success means continuing success. What was the condition of the company when he took over and made it successful? What management style did he use? Would that same style fit the requirements of the position you need to fill? What was the previous corporate culture like? Does it match your corporate culture? Are the problems the same? Is growing the organization your primary goal? If not, do you have another goal in mind? Will the candidate be able to achieve those goals for your organization with equal success?

Well, I think you see the point. There’s no question about the fact that the candidate in this example comes to you with a major success to his credit, but that’s really all we know. You need to know much more about him before making the determination that he’s the right person for the position you are filling.