Finding the right executive for your company is no easy task. So when a promising candidate comes along, it can certainly be exciting. However, don’t let your enthusiasm for a particular contender cloud your judgment when it comes time for the reference check  – or worse yet, lead you to skip the reference checking process altogether.

As a leading executive placement firm in Sacramento, Pacific ExecSearch knows that checking references is a crucial part of getting the full picture of a candidate’s background. If you don’t take this all-important measure, you could wind up making a serious hiring mistake.

Now that you know the importance of checking references, what should you listen for in the process? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Long silences. You ask a reference whether they’d hire the person again and all you hear is silence. That’s a good indication that the answer is “no” and the reference doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. What should you do? Probe with some follow-up questions to see if you can get to the bottom of the issue.
  • Ambiguity. Oftentimes, references will provide less-than-detailed answers to your questions. It’s up to you to dig deeper and ask smart follow-up questions to get the information you need. However, it’s when a reference simply won’t – or can’t – provide specifics that you should worry about the viability of a particular candidate.
  • A lack of consistency. The candidate tells you one thing; a reference tells you another. Who do you believe? This is certainly a problem when you’re checking references. Don’t automatically assume the candidate is lying or misrepresenting a situation; the person serving as the reference can certainly be mistaken. But if there are any inconsistencies, you need to reconcile them before making a hiring decision.
  • Poor feedback. Most candidates will give you the names of references who will offer glowing reviews. However, if a certain reference gives negative feedback, then you need to keep that in mind when it’s time to hire.

It can be tempting to rush through the reference check process so you can cross it off your list. But it’s one important way of truly vetting a leadership candidate. It’s better to take the time to conduct an effective reference check, so you can avoid the possibility of a bad hire.

Do you need help with the executive hiring process? Call Pacific ExecSearch. As a leading executive placement firm in Sacramento, we leverage decades of experience and proven recruiting strategies to uncover leaders with skill, experience and a vision for success. Contact us today to learn more.