Are Your References Selling You Short?

By Paula Santonocito

“The fact is most people have no problem talking and, with a little prodding, one can learn quite a bit from a professional reference—some good, some bad,” Allison says. “You’d be shocked at what some people selected to provide professional references have said about candidates.”

Real-Life Replies

To illustrate the point, Allison & Taylor offers examples of reference check replies.

Comments regarding a candidate’s skills, ranking them on a scale of 1-5:

Oral Communications: “Can I give a negative number?”

Interpersonal Relations: “He had a problem with a few of the people. I should have ended the relationship just after he started.”

Productivity: “Is there a rating less than inadequate?”

Decision Making: “He couldn’t make a decision if his life depended on it.”

Managerial Skills: “He couldn’t manage a group of children.”

Financial Skills: “That’s why our company had a major layoff—we left her in charge of the finances!”

Comments regarding a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses:

“I cannot think of any strengths, only weaknesses.”

“I’m sure there are some strengths, but nothing jumps out at me.”