Reference Checks

A few days ago, I finished a series of three blogs on the nature of reference checking.  This time I want to give you a real-world example of just how thorough reference checking can work to the benefit of both the candidate for employment and the employer.

A few years ago, we were asked to prepare a reference report for a client company on the East Coast.  The position to be filled was Sound and Vibration Engineer.  As it turns out, sound and vibration engineers are relatively rare.  The prospective employer had identified and interviewed a candidate who seemed perfect for the job.  We did the reference report.

In a nutshell, all three references were people with whom the candidate had worked.  All three said the guy really knew his stuff and was a truly outstanding sound and vibration engineer, but they added that he couldn’t get along with anybody because of his abrasive personality.  He apparently knew he was good at his job and was not reluctant to keep reminding other employees of how good he was.

Now, what do you suppose the prospective employer did?  They hired him anyway!  But, armed with the knowledge beforehand, they initially put him in an office by himself and figuratively slid projects under his door so he wouldn’t have contact with other employees in the department!  Shortly after he was hired, the company arranged for him to take something like a Dale Carnegie course.  Within a couple of weeks, the new sound and vibration engineer realized that his personality was abrasive and, with a little effort on his part, modified his behavior toward others; and, within less than six months, he was promoted to Manager of the Engineering Department!  That, my friends, is exactly how reference checking is supposed to work.  It can easily be a win-win situation for both the employer and the new employee.  Oh, and by the way, that company out east is still a customer of ours….