Do you recall that one of the objectives of checking references is to evaluate job performance over time?  It makes sense to assume that, if a candidate for employment did extremely well in his last job, he’ll continue to do well in a subsequent job.  But be careful!

The foregoing notion is exactly why careful reference checking is so important.  There are too many unknowns to assume that doing a great job before guarantees doing a great job now.  For instance, what was the condition of the previous company before he took over?  Would his management style in the last job fit the requirements of the job for which he’s being considered?  What was the previous corporate culture like?  Does it match the corporate culture of the company considering him now?  Are the challenges and problems the same?  Is the goal of growing the company the same for the prospective employer?  Well, I think you get the point.

There’s no question that this candidate comes to the employee selection process with a significant success to his credit, but that’s all it says.  The prospective employer needs to know a great deal more about the candidate before making the determination that he’s the right candidate for the job to be filled!

The foregoing illustration is precisely why reference checking can never be reduced to a simple list of routine questions that anybody just off the street can ask.  To be good at reference checking requires an understanding of the prospective candidate’s business environment, the challenges to be faced, the critical requirements of the job to be done, and how well the candidate’s previous success at growing the previous company line up with the prospective employer’s needs and goals.

One success “doth not a career make.”