The first piece I wrote on this topic prompted me to think of another incident that’s worth sharing to underscore the point about the importance of reference checking as a career development tool.
We have a client who wanted to hire a sales manager. They identified their top choice and had us do a reference report. The job required industry-specific product knowledge of an unusually high degree because of the highly technical nature of the product. The job also called for excellent interpersonal skills.
The candidate had the required product knowledge and people skills, but he had never managed the time and activities of others, according to all of his references. Again, the company hired him and put him into a crash course in sales management. Because the candidate needed time to development the necessary managerial skills, he was initially hired as a salesperson. This gave him time to become familiar with the intricacies of the product line and to learn more about the client base. Within six months, the candidate had acquired both the theoretical and managerial knowledge, and he had also done some job-shadowing with another sales manager. Then he was promoted – as had been promised – to the sales manager’s position.
Because of his existing product knowledge and interpersonal skills, nobody had thought to ask him if he had any managerial skills. It was the reference report that gave the employer the information needed to turn what could have been a hiring mistake into a valuable addition to their managerial team!