A major part of every professional recruiter’s job is checking on candidates’ references. What happens when you find a great candidate — they’ve given excellent interviews, have plenty of relevant experience and seem like a perfect culture fit — but they have a bad reference?
Here are three considerations to make when considering whether or not you should hire someone with a bad reference:
Who Gave the Bad Reference?
First, it’s important to think about the person who gave the bad reference. What position did they hold in relation to the candidate? Boss? Co-worker? CEO of the company? Keeping this in mind can tell you a lot about why that person might have given your job candidate a bad reference. If the reference seems jealous of the candidate, or if they seem downright angry, their perspective might not be the most reliable.
Was the Candidate a Bad Culture Fit?
Some employees fit better in certain work cultures than others. It’s entirely possible your candidate just wasn’t a great fit at their previous company. Perhaps the candidate didn’t thrive in a stuffy, corporate environment and left to seek a more relaxed type of job culture. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are a bad employee; it just means they might fit better with the organization they’re currently interviewing with!
What Other Factors Could Be at Play?
Remember there are other factors you may not be aware of when it comes to a bad reference. Perhaps your candidate leaving their previous position forced their reference to take over all of their duties in overwhelming fashion; maybe the reference was up for a promotion, but your candidate secured it instead before leaving the job. Try to ask specific, pointed questions of the reference to get to the bottom of these issues.
All of these considerations bring us back to the initial question: Should you hire someone with a bad reference? Ultimately, it’s your decision — it’s important you trust your instincts. If you get a sense the reference isn’t reliable or is exaggerating, don’t give it too much weight. If you’ve only heard one bad reference and glowing praise from all other references, the majority probably rules. If bad references seem to be the norm, it might be time to reconsider the candidate.
Contact the recruiting experts here at OakTree Staffing to learn more about interviewing, checking references and making the best hiring choices for your clientele.