The Key to Receiving Honest Feedback From An Applicant’s Referees

Reference checking is an absolutely critical step in any hiring process.

Gabriel Lucas

Mar 8, 2022

The Key to Receiving Honest Feedback From An Applicant’s Referees

No matter how well-designed, an application is almost always based on a series of artificial or simulated milestones.  Reference conversations provide insights into real-world scenarios.  Hiring managers should dispel the myth that it's not possible to find out areas of growth or concern from a referee.  One of the keys to eliciting constructive feedback is to contextualize this question based on the relationship between the referee and the applicant.  If the referee is a boss, you have to almost remind the referee that it’s the job of a boss to identify growth points and help mitigate them.  If the referee is a subordinate, you have to conversely allow the referee the space to critique their manager, perhaps by creating a temporary and hypothetical role reversal.  And if the referee is a peer, you have to allow that person to critique a friend, perhaps by imagining themselves in a casual but focused lunch setting in which the applicant came to them for honest advice.  Everyone has areas of growth, and it's your job as a hiring manager to do your due diligence, well before an offer is made.

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