The Strategist

Five tips for HR to work with former employers testimonials

06/21/2019 - 12:24

In addition to traditional personal interviews, there are other opportunities to get information about your potential employee. One of them is getting feedback on candidates from previous employeers. Here are 5 tips to do it effectively.

1. Reassure those whom you ask for recommendation.

It is important that the recommender does not have the feeling that he is holding the future of the candidate in his hands - this may force him to give a superficially positive feedback or (which happens most often) to get off with cautious and general words. Explain that you are calling not just to ask if the candidate was a good employee, but rather you want to know if he can successfully fulfill his duties. In other words, ask the person to act as a consultant whose task is to provide benefits to all stakeholders.

If this doesn’t sound very fair, look at this situation as an opportunity to learn only truth and nothing more. All you want is to describe culture of the team that the candidate will enter, and make sure that the referee finds him worthy.

Reassure your interlocutor that he is not the only one who provides information to you, and that you guarantee their confidentiality.

2. Note small features.

It would be nice if you start by asking the recommender to name three or four adjectives that best describe the candidate. This will be a good indicator of the presence of such qualities as modesty, thirst for activity and sensitivity.
But the main thing that should be paid attention to during the conversation is questions about characteristic features of the employee’s behavior and what the candidate is compared to other people. See how your interlocutor’s responses relate to what the candidate said.

3. Focus on points of doubt.

Use the feedback you have received to analyze your questions. For instance, if you have already got an impression of the candidate’s activity and sensitivity, then focus on modesty. Correctly use time of the conversation, ask questions that will help reveal certain features of the candidate.

4. Pay attention to those who have not responded to your request.

If your request to give a recommendation to the candidate was left unanswered, it is possible that the former colleagues of your applicant are not very enthusiastic about him. Remember: the candidate himself gave you names of those who can give feedback about him. Most people are happy to give a positive recommendation to a former colleague, but if he does not deserve it, then they often avoid doing it or are not in a hurry with the answer.

5. Ask what other people would say about the candidate.

Ask the candidate what other people would say about him. Ask the former employee the same question. Such an approach saves your interlocutors from the feeling that they have slandered the candidate, and at the same time makes it easier to share important information.

Based on "The Ideal Team Player. How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues" by Patrick Lencioni

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