Did You Hear The One About…“Offer Contingent on References being Checked”?

This statement is often made just as an offer is being extended.

We tell the candidate we have gone through hours of due diligence with assessments, interviews, dozens of questions, handshakes, and follow up calls…..

We’ve made serious considerations for the impact you can have on our team – the insight you will bring, the new ideas and push toward continued excellence….

Oh yes, our team – we have considered alignment with others, your fit in our culture – your history with other firms and how that will help us as well….

We’ve spent hours analyzing your work, comparing you to all the other worthy candidates.

We’ve determined, after our management team has spent (on average) around 20 hours in the interview process for this hire, that we feel great about adding you to our team…..

Oh wait – that is after I speak with someone that has no idea why I want to hire you – someone that has no vested interest in our company’s success – someone that you prep on the role and guide them on what to say – yes, once we speak to these references – then we will be certain you are a fit for our team.

Now some say, “Hey, I do ‘back channel’ checks – I call my friends to obtain the real scoop”.

Or this one – “let’s check references earlier in the process – we can rule people out quicker”.

Before you start with the hate mail let me explain.

Checking references can be a great tool if done with the right intent. My suggestion is to go into the call from a place of curiosity and have a desire to acquire information that will help onboard the candidate and assist in structuring their first 30/60/90 days for success.

Contact the reference and start with “We just hired Joan, we are excited for her to join our team – we have hired her to ___ (define the position, what you are looking for her to achieve, why you hired her)”

Continue with “I am reaching out today in hopes you can help with her transition into our environment. We want to make this successful – we have spent a lot of time assessing her background and are confident in our decision – you can help in Joan’s success by providing some insight on your experiences working with her. I am looking to identify any areas I should have my team focus during the onboarding process and during her first 90 days with our team.”

If you uncover a flag during this process I suggest you dig deeper with the candidate to vet it out. If you are uncovering flags on most references you check – then I suggest you take a deep dive into your overall assessment and interview process, as something is amiss.