The Right Way To Do Reference Checks

If you're considering potential candidates for a job, then checking with their referees is an essential step. But how do you make sure that the referee isn't saying nothing but nice things? This pair of questions can help you dig deeper.

Reference form picture from Shutterstock

Scott Cook, co-founder of finance software company Intuit, always lets the referee say what they want to say first. Then he asks: "Among all of the people you’ve seen in this position, on a zero to 10 scale, where would this person rank?"

A lot of people will instinctively give an answer like "seven", which sounds impressive without being ridiculous. Cook then follows up with: "Why isn't that person a nine or a 10?" That opens the door to finding out someone's flaws without having to lead with "Tell me your former employee sucks." Hit the First Round Review post for more strategies for checking references.

What Scott Cook Wished He Knew About Being a CEO When He Founded Intuit [via Business Insider]


    The only question you need to ask is 'Would you hire this person again?'.

    Many companies, when contacted for references, will only confirm that the person worked for them and during what period. This is largely due to fear of legal action in case they say something libellous or negative which the applicant can sue them for, e.g. I didn't get the job because you said I once puked in the director's favourite pot plant.

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