Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ask your reference to give a well-balanced feedback

From a job-seeker:

“I’ve interviewed and cleared all rounds of interview with a select Company. I’ve been told by their recruiter that I’m their first-choice candidate for the role and the Company is yet to complete the reference check process. I’ve also been told (by their recruiter) that they weren’t able to get enough information from the references (previous managers & peers) that I had given. Hence the delay and now they have asked me to give them a couple more references to talk to. Is this the normal practice? Or are they just buying time to close loop with me? I’m keen to join them and haven’t interviewed with any other firm. What should I do?

Yes, there’s a possibility that they may be buying time. Not to talk to other candidates (slight chance, but very unlikely), but they are instead buying time to find out more about your previous work experience. If I were you, I’ll believe the recruiter, unless there’s enough reason to not believe, based on your prior interactions. Instead I would focus on the ‘not enough information’ from references. Generally if you have reached this phase of the interview process, it’s most likely that they are keen to hire you, off course it’s subject to the ref-check. That’s actually become the roadblock! You’ll need to fix it. Soon.

Since they are talking to references that you have provided, the ‘not enough information’ could most likely be only about your prior work experience. They are looking for some clarity.

I’m not sure if they’ll tell you what’s missing from the ref-check. Figuring out the exact ‘not enough’ part is hard. You could try with asking your references to give your prospective employer a well-balanced feedback. I’ve done numerous ref-checks and really there’s nothing more worrying than a reference who can give ONLY a glowing positive feedback or a totally negative one. Both don’t help in getting a clear picture. Agreed you may have been a star performer in your previous firm. Even stars have areas of improvement. Really. If someone believes otherwise, it’s a fallacy.

A well-balanced feedback is one that tells your prospective employer both your strengths and weakness. That’s the kind of information that they are looking for.

Second, don’t try and manage your references. Maybe you are not doing that. But if they can only give glowing references, that’s how it will look to a third person. It’s not going to help your cause and that’s definitely not right. Your reference needn’t even tell you what they’ve told your prospective employer. You chose your reference because you trust them. If you really want to find out what the reference is saying, hire an agency to do that. Again, I wouldn’t do that. That would mean I doubt my own reference! Really.

Everything’s not lost. Go ahead and share a couple more references with them. This time around talk to your reference and ask for a balanced feedback. If you believe you have the right skills and a clear career history, I don’t see a need to worry.

Good luck with your job search.