Depending on their role, employees can serve as a company’s primary interface with important clients, and often conduct activities that impact bottom line profitability. Employees can potentially perform delicate duties, manage valuable assets, and have access to sensitive information. It is therefore imperative that employers build a comprehensive picture of candidates they are considering to fill vacancies. Unfortunately, in today’s politically correct world, few employers are willing to give a full honest appraisal of a former employee. So is there any point in calling an applicant’s former employers, supervisors, or co-workers? After all, what kind of numskull would include as a reference for someone whose evaluation of them is anything less than stellar?
In order to see a true picture of a potential hires character and prior work experience, it is essential to differentiate between two very different references.
In order to honour an applicants confidentiality, it would be highly unethical to reach out to a current supervisor without their permission.
However, it is absolutely appropriate when vetting a prospective job-seeker to identify former supervisors and to reach out to them. LinkedIn offers a terrific way to look at someone’s work history, and then by doing a little research, you can easily reach out to former supervisors to get a little background on your applicant.
Here’s how to evaluate references and gather valuable information from even the most resistant or trite among them:
Ann Zaslow- Rethaber is President of International Search Consultants, a leader in Executive Search since 1999. Please reach out to ISC for any recruitment needs in the following 5 areas of focus: Sales, Financial Services, Healthcare (non-clinical), Human Resources, & Construction Leadership Recruiting.
You can reach the author directly at or via phone at 888-866-7276
Kim Garrison is Team Lead for ISC’s Texas Banking Recruiting Team and can be reached via e-mail at or direct dial at 800-270-3974.