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Do You Know What Your Former Boss Will Say About You?
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Bad References

Are you thinking of having your references checked?  Worrying about what your former boss may say to a prospective employer?  50% of our calls to former employers result in a bad job reference.

The Following Are Examples Of Real Cases And Actual Responses From Former Employers:

Does this scenario sound familiar?  You interview for a position that fits you perfectly.  During the third meeting, you are asked for a list of your job references and told the company will be back in touch very soon.  Not only does nobody call you again, but they no longer take your calls.  There is a good chance a reference scared them off and, at that point, it is too late to try and resolve the situation.  Do not wait until this happens to you.  Check in advance to assure your job references are saying complimentary things about you or, at the very least, verifying your existence.  If they are not, then your job search may go on for a very long time.  Following are sample job reference responses from real reference checks.  We can help you select the right references and then make sure responses like these never come up in the conversation.
 
Samples of conversations we have encountered:

Allison & Taylor: We would like to verify that ---------- held the position of Manager of accounting from May 1, 1998 to May 1, 2005, is this correct?

Their responses:

  • "We do not have this person anywhere in our records."
  • "I am not allowed to say anything about this person as they were fired."


Regarding Performance Evaluations:

Please answer how you would rate this employee in the following areas:

Oral Communications:   "Can I give a negative number … -1" 
Financial Skills:    "Well, that's why our company had a major layoff – left her in charge of finances!"
Written Communications:    "You mean when she finally turned in the reports due a week earlier??
Technical Skills:    "Is zero in your rating scale?"
Interpersonal Relations:    "He's not the type to go knock on doors and talk with people."
Productivity:    "Is there a rating less than inadequate?
Employee Relations:    "She purposely caused havoc in the office with her gossip."
Decision Making:    "He couldn't make a decision if his life depended on it!"
Leadership:   "He had no leadership skills."
Crisis Management:  "He [fireman] totally ignored the emergency call when it came in.  He said he didn't hear it!"       
Short Term Planning:  "Lousy, can't remember something that was completed on time!"   
Personal Integrity:    "I don't think she had any integrity."
Long Term Planning:       "He wasn't here long enough to rate him."
Overall Performance:    "Inadequate would be a positive word for him!"
Managerial Skills:  "He couldn't manage a group of children!"     
  
Please rate this employee based on this key:

1 = Inadequate
2 = Poor
3 = Satisfactory
4 = Good
5 = Outstanding
NC = No Comment
SB = See Below
NP = Not Applicable

Their Reponses:

  • "No comment, they could not do anything correctly in the position they held with us."
  • "Basically you could rank them inadequate in all areas."


Regarding strengths and weaknesses:

Their responses:

  • "I cannot think of any strengths, only weaknesses."
  • "I'm sure there must be some strengths but nothing jumps out at me."
  • "Weaknesses seem to stick in my mind... I'd have to really think about any strengths."
  • "I'd rather not comment – you can take that however you want."


Regarding Eligibility for re-hire

Allison & Taylor: Is this person eligible for re-hire?  And would you personally re-hire her based on performance?

Their Responses:

  • "Yes, she would be."
  • "No, I wouldn't re-hire her."
  • "He is not.  I'm really not supposed to say much but he was unreliable and sick at lot."
  • "Probably not – she had a hard time working in a team environment."
  • "No, but I can't say why."
  • "Probably not but it's just a suspicion of mine."
  • "No, because he didn't want to work here and made it clear he didn't want to work here."
  • "Yes, she's eligible, but we wouldn't re-hire her."
  • "I wouldn't re-hire him.  He was disorganized and dishonest."
  • "No, it was the departure – kind of burned his bridges when he left."
  • "No, she stole from the company.  We have an investigation pending."


Regarding Reason for Separation:

Allison & Taylor: Could you fully describe the circumstances and reason for the separation?

Their Responses:

  • "She was fired."
  • "She was let go – she didn't do her part as expected."
  • "He was let go... there was a conflict with the children – he didn't follow safety standards and guidelines."
  • "I fired him!  He and his buddy had some illegal things going."


Regarding Tone of Voice:

Many times we have experienced tones of the following:

  • Anger and shock they have been called to the point of being hung up on.
  • Disbelief that they were called.
  • "I haven’t heard from her in 8 years!"
  • Extreme unhappiness they have been called regarding this employee.


Miscellaneous

Allison & Taylor: We are calling as I have you down as a reference regarding ------ ------.

Their Responses:

  • "I do not care to comment at all.  I let him go and that's all I care to say!"
  • "Are you certain he gave you my name?"
  • "I cannot believe you were given my name as a reference."
  • "Hold on, let me get the legal file to see what I am allowed to say."
  • "Never heard of him."


Allison & Taylor: Is there anyone else we should speak to regarding this former employee?

Their responses:

  • "They're going to say the same thing I did."
  • "Yes, you can speak with my boss... he's sure to tell you more than I did."
  • "You can speak with our company attorney."


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