QUESTION: What is the best way to use a reference check?  – Sandy, Lexington, KY

ANSWER: Great question.  In our coaching programs, there is a module on the membership site on how to track references with a form and a template and use it as a marketing tool. However, I can give you the Cliff Notes answer here, that is come up with a reference check that has phenomenal questions in it.  

The way I looked at a reference check was that it was a demo because you will get a very high return call rate.  I would even reference check people I did not need to reference check as an intro to the executive.  If you really think of reference checking as a marketing tool, to answer your question, it is the most effective way to use it.  

If you are doing it in a traditional way, you have a finalist or somebody going to a second round, ask some really good questions around what was the best way to motivate him or her.  From your observation, where did they excel?  Where did they need a nudge?  Where did they maybe need a little bit of a kick in the butt?  There is no such thing as a perfect candidate.  How would you describe some of their imperfections?  I always like doing a reference check like that.  When you go to an employer, it gives you a lot more credibility.  A lot of the other questions are obvious.  You can just google reference checking and get some of those.  I just wanted to give you some of my favorites.  

The reason I like layering those in, is what I am kind of signaling to a hiring manager, is I am not just looking for the highlight reel.  I am actually probing for some weaknesses, and then I can flip that call at the end and I can say, if you are the hiring manager, Sandy, “You know what, Sandy, I have been so busy.  I have been meaning to reach out to your organization.  I have read a lot of good things about it.”  By the way, I would do a little bit of research before the reference check to highlight a couple of things I had read about them recently and to say, “You guys look like a really exciting organization.  What are 2 or 3 things I can do to earn the right to help you build your team?”  Again, the reference is the demo and that is the call to action at the end.  

So using references as a marketing tool is the best way to use a reference check, to answer your question.  Thank you.