Reference Check Or Reality Check

Are you looking for your Dream Job? Or maybe, you are from the select group of fortunate people who have already landed it.

Whatever the case may be, you are likely familiar with Reference Checks that a company conducts before finalizing candidates. These give the recruiting company valuable feedback, which they use to make hiring decisions.

While some consider this a mere formality, it is often a key step in the selection process.

Application For Employment” by phasinphoto

Every once in a while, I too am approached by former colleagues, asking if they may list my name as a professional reference at an interview. If I know the candidate and have worked closely with them, there is no reason for me to refuse.

Then there are instances when colleagues working on the same extended team, but in no direct Manager-Subordinate relationship or parallel working role have requested to list me as a reference. That too is acceptable, as long as the recruiting company is made aware of the relationship between the Candidate and Reference contact.

Now it so happened that last week I received communication from 2 former colleagues asking if I would be willing to provide a reference for them.

In the case of The First Candidate (Let’s call them that, for purposes of anonymity), we had worked very closely as I was a direct supervisor. Thus, I was able to give pertinent feedback and, without the need for any prior discussion, both our responses matched up beautifully, which satisfied the recruiting company (as also remarked by them). The First Candidate will be receiving the Confirmation of Recruitment, tomorrow.

Then came The Second Candidate, with whom I had no direct work relationship. We only happened to work on the same team, where The Second Candidate’s boss and I reported to the same person. However both of us (The Second Candidate and I), despite having moved on from that company, are still in contact on a personal level and consult regarding professional decisions from time to time.

So, I was asked to provide my email ID for the recruiter to send me a reference check form.

Checklist” by holohololand

Now this form explicitly asked if the candidate had worked in any capacity directly in my supervision; the answer being an obvious no. There were many other questions and ratings, all of which took me over an hour to complete.

A reference check can literally make or break the hiring deal, so it is not something you want to rush with.

Hand Choosing Worker From Group Of Businessmen” by Sira Anamwong

25 minutes later, I received a message from The Second Candidate stating, since I had mentioned no direct work relationship, the reference check was invalid. I was taken by surprise as I had no idea that it may have been suggested otherwise.

Upon mentioning this I was told, there being no other reference contacts from that company (as they were all likely to give negative feedback), my name was given as supervisor.

Okay, we have all experienced a situation where we don’t get along with a manager and would choose not to list their name. I totally get it. Nonetheless, I have found in such cases, it is best to be honest with the Interviewer. They will surely understand.

But hey, Second Candidate! You have absolutely no right to put me in a situation where you expect me to lie. That is unacceptable!

And when you have made the mistake of doing that, do not, I repeat, DO NOT accuse me of being honest. I will not have it!

Whatever you may gain from this interview, whether you may be hired or not, you have definitely lost at least one person’s trust and respect. Moreover, at the risk of sounding diabolically vindictive, I will have no choice but to question your integrity in any future association.

So think before you act! It may be wise to do a reality check before considering a reference check.

Image 1 courtesy of phasinphoto at
Image 2 courtesy of holohololand at
Image 3 courtesy of Sira Anamwong at

2 thoughts on “Reference Check Or Reality Check

  1. Parul

    You certainly did the right thing. It was upto the second candidate whose name he/she provided for reference check. Specially if they knew that the person should be in supervisory role then their rejection is totally their fault.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s