Who is on your reference list and why? I am always surprised by who people consider appropriate references.
I think the problem arises from people’s lack of knowledge as to what we ask on reference checks. Here are some questions that I ask on a reference check. Now look at your reference list and ask yourself if these people could answer these questions.
1 Did you hire this candidate – if so why? Did he/she live up to your expectations why/why not?
2 What did the candidate accomplish during his/her time there?
3 How was he/she perceived by internal stakeholders?
4 How would you rate this person’s influencing skills?
5 How would you rate this person’s ability to operate independently?
6 How would you rate this person’s time management skills?
7 What are this person’s strong points?
8 How do they compare to others who have done the same job?
9 How would you rate them overall on a scale of 1-10. What do they have to do to get closer to 10?
10 What areas were you coaching this person on? Did he/she improve? How does he/she take constructive criticism and feedback?
11 Did he/she ever disappoint you?
12 What motivates this person?
13 How does a manager get the best performance out of him/her?
14 Why did this person leave? Are they eligible for rehire?
This is a partial list. I have kept it somewhat generic but I will tailor a reference if the client is interested in finding out about certain areas of concern. Look at these questions. Can the person who you worked with at the next cubicle who you used to go to lunch with answer all these questions? Can your neighbor? Your Priest?