Finding the Right Executive for Your Business Needs Part 11 – Additional Tips for Reference Checks
Look at reference information as just one of many data points. It will either confirm what you have learned during the process of getting to know the executive, or it will raise a flag or two.
For example, if the reference call focus’ on how great the executive was at marketing and you are engaging the executive for an operations role, dig deeper.
• Use a range of references, from supervisors to clients to subordinates. This will provide a range of perspectives, particularly from the subordinates or other team members with whom they have worked.
• Most references submitted by the executive will be business owners, CEOs, and board members. Their available time will be brief, and they often appreciate being prepped ahead of time. Be prepared to send a short overview of the role so they can better comment on their experiences with the executive as it relates to that type of role.
• Often, an executive is referred by someone. After having an opportunity to get to know the executive, go back and treat that individual as a reference. Get into why and how the referrer thinks the executive would be a good fit in the organization.
• Verify individuals with public references such as Google or LinkedIn. Generally, if the high-level executive is not on LinkedIn, then s/he will be searchable on Google due to the public nature of high-profile executive roles. Almost every executive is visible on the internet today. If you can’t find anything on them on the web or LinkedIn, find out why.
• Don’t hesitate to Google the executive’s prior positions and assignments, as well. Use the executive’s name along with each of the companies where he or she worked. You’d be surprised what can be learned.
• If you are going to use a written reference system, it is acceptable to follow up with a phone call on any of the references in which the response was not consistent with other references or your experiences with the individual.
• Our favorite question: “No one is perfect. Where is the executive not perfect and what advice would you give their next employer/client?”
The right executive is the one who can help the company achieve its vision, mission, and goals.
If a candidate’s background and values are not aligned with those, then no matter how mirror-image the resumé is to your job description, or how impressive the Rolodex is, you are likely to be disappointed.
You can find Part 10 here.