“The candidate was fired from his last job, so he probably will be a poor choice.”
This is precisely the opposite of the previous misconception about reference checking. Again, you can assume from a single piece of information that a candidate, strictly on the basis of one termination, will be, by default, a poor prospect for employment. You need to know more, however. You need to know what caused the termination. Was it entirely the candidate’s fault, or was there more to it? Could there have been a new CEO with whom the candidate simply couldn’t get along? There could be a dozen contributing – and mitigating – factors that need to be taken into account. And the only way to do that is to talk to multiple references.
It’s as natural to assume that a termination means the candidate will be a poor employee as it is to assume that a major success will guarantee a great employee. Before any really valid conclusions can be made, more information is needed from references that were in a position to know the facts – and who are willing to discuss them.
One dramatic piece of job performance information, while important, is seldom enough, standing alone, to make the most informed hiring decision, especially for senior-level positions within an organization. More information is always better than less.