Not everything about reference checking is always serious business. Once in a while, a reference call can produce more than you expected, and sometimes it can be very funny!
For example, a couple of years ago, I was talking with a reference for a fellow who was being considered for a position as a Tool Room Manager for a large Midwestern manufacturing firm. The reference was the owner of a company that made several of the tools used by the manufacturing firm. The candidate for the Tool Room Manager’s job had worked for the reference for three or four years in a Quality Control Supervisor’s position.
Suffice it to say, the reference had very positive things to say about the candidate’s overall job performance, his good attitude on the job, and his top-notch technical and interpersonal skills and had very positive responses to all the rest of the usual questions. There was no question in my mind that the candidate was a solid candidate for the Tool Room Manager’s job.
As I was about to wrap up the conversation with the reference and thank him for his help, he asked if I knew where he might find the former employee. Of course, I didn’t know; and, frankly, I was a little surprised by the question. Very politely, I asked the reference why he was interested in finding the guy; and he said, “Well, when he resigned, he stole my truck and the sheriff is looking for him.” Wow! Sometimes a reference offers up more information about a candidate than you were expecting!