The Most Powerful Technique for Getting Job Reference Information that's Honest and Has Real Value is to Have it Come Out of the Applicant's Own Mouth
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Anyone who’s ever run a business knows the experience of hiring someone who looked great in the interview, only to find their on-the-job performance falling far short of expectations.
Job interviews aren’t typical work settings. With all the books and tapes available on how to impress the interviewer it’s easy for many applicants to look great in the interview – but not necessarily show how they’ll do on the job.
Here's How to Get the Information You Really Want
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Early in the interview it's important to get the names of each of the job applicant's former bosses, and tell them that you or your Human Resources Department will be checking references. Ask if they have any problem with you doing this – and have them state their permission for you to do so. This agreement is the basis for a powerful technique you’ll come back to at the end of the interview for getting honest emoloyment reference information.
Ask them to sign a statement you’ve prepared in advance authorizing their approval for former employers to disclose any information considered relevant about their employment history. This authorization also states that it releases you and the former employer from any liability regarding this information. Once you have their signed statement, tell them:
• To be an effective member of a team I place a high value on a person’s awareness of how they’re perceived by others.
• Whether you agree with those perceptions or not is a separate issue we can also discuss. But I’m interested in seeing how closely you can tell me,
• What type of reference do you think your former boss will give you when I call?
Emphasizing that you're interested in how closely they can tell you what they think their former boss will say forces the applicant to answer the question from their boss’s viewpoint. Watch the non-verbals very carefully.
• What do you think they will say about the way you accept direction and feedback?
• What do you think they’ll say about your organizational skills and ability to make deadlines?
Query the applicant on each of the attributes you've identified as essential for your opening. The interview often shifts dramatically at this point, revealing valuable information you wouldn't have gotten any other way.
What makes this technique so effective is job applicants want to head off any problems they think you'll uncover when you make these calls – which motivates people to unusual candor!