What do we do with a bad Reference?

21.03.17

What do we do with a bad Reference?

References are the last stage of the recruitment process and the final chance to know who your candidate is. Ever started to wonder if the person you are putting forward is in fact who they say they are?
About two years ago I had a candidate who was perfect in every way, maybe too perfect. His experience was perfect, his attitude was perfect, and my client was proceeding to offer stage.

Then came the references. At first, the candidate couldn't provide me with someone he reported to, and his other manager was "on holiday" which left me trying to contact a previous employer from over eight years ago. Alarm bells started to ring.

Bad attendance and not a team player. Not a good start. After six days and about 20 phone calls, I had my references and they certainly did not match the candidate who had presented himself to my client and me.

Here are my telltale signs at the referencing stages

1. They cannot provide people they reported directly to.

If they know a negative reference is on the cards, frauds may ask a friendly person in the previous job to provide one on their behalf who most likely will not be their direct boss.

2. It takes far longer than usual.

Trying to get in touch with people who are not their direct managers can be much more time-consuming.

3. They cannot provide senior managers.

To impress a new prospective boss, candidates will often try to provide references from more senior people in their previous jobs, somebody hiding something, most likely will not.

4. Vague and evasive answers to questions.

People to whom the candidate did not report will not be able to answer questions freely about the candidate's previous roles.As a competent recruiter, you can 'sniff out' these potentially fake referees.

What do you do when you are torn between closing the deal and putting forward somebody you don't feel right about?

When I had the situation above, I called a meeting with my client to discuss, and we decided he was not the right person for the job. I eventually found the right person two weeks down the line and they are still there 15 months later. My client continues to use my services as I was honest and I have a better, more trusting relationship.

It is definitely tempting to blur the lines when taking a reference over the phone and preparing a report for the client, but is it ever really worth it?