So you have done your interviewing and made your offer to your new hire. All is looking good until you receive the references. We’ve all been there! The reference comes back and it isn’t a glowing one.

What would you do? You’d probably do what the vast majority of people do facing this situation? Dismiss the thought of ever employing that person. If they weren’t up to it in their previous job, they’re going to be a pain to manage and not deliver what we want. Why run the risk? It’ surely a clear cut decision isn’t it.

Well, I take a different view. Now, in some cases it can be a clear cut decision, if it calls into question honesty, fraud or even violence then the offer is retracted.

However, not all are that straight forward, are they? What about those references where the candidate was underperforming, disengaged or not part of the team. The thing to remember is that most references when actually given are subjective rather than objective. If the new hire got on brilliantly with their employer then the reference is usually better than the reality and vice versa, if their relationship was strained the reference usually follows suit.

This is where it starts to bring in the infamous “gut feeling” which leaves decisions down to luck rather than judgement.

During my recruitment career I have seen people employed into roles because they got on well with the interviewer due to similar personal circumstances or personalities (Where in fact they were the wrong personality for the role and it was clear they wouldn’t succeed). This is purely down to the “gut” without any scientific approach.

The obvious example is the enthusiastic telesales candidate from a service industry, being sold to a manufacturing business as the next best thing in sales, with a great reference from their previous employer. They might be an excellent sales person, but someone who enjoys the quick sale there and then. Ask them to do complicated technical quotes with lengthy league times and they will very quickly switch off. Their lack of affinity to process technical information to precise detail will stop them selling and quickly become a drain on the business. In this instance, it may lead to a poor reference, down to the fact they were in the wrong job and not producing the sales. A great reference, to get the job, a bad reference, now it’s not worked out for them. Not their fault! However, it may hamper them going back to what they were doing before and good at, because of their last reference.

However, does this mean they are useless forever? Of course it doesn’t! In fact they have a wealth of untapped potential! It just needs to be deployed in the right areas. It’s really important that employers and employees alike understand the whole person or their whole self. What are their intrinsic strengths and what makes them tick, not just how well did they do in their last job.

This is something at Anderson Scott that we understand.

No two people are the same. As well as experience, they have different behaviours, different motivations, different values and different levels of intellect. What happens generally through the interviewing process, though, is that we naturally gravitate to the people mostly like us….and in most cases we don’t want to be employing someone like ourselves. We want to be employing someone who complements us, who has strengths that make up for our limitations and visa versa.

For example, if I’m a “big picture” person, I will naturally gravitate to another “big picture” person. However, employing that person might means that we never get the small and important things right in our team, because we don’t have the required attention to detail.

What can you do about it then?

Well, behaviours, motivations and the like are much more difficult, than experience, to pick up at interview and in a reference. So you have to test for it. The other advantage of testing is that it’s objective, not subjective. This is why an experience-based interviewing alone is such an unreliable predictor of future success in a job, because of its subjectivity – the same as reference.

This is the reason why at Anderson Scott we have enhanced their interviewing techniques and added a variety of scientific assessments to ensure we consider the “Complete Individual”.

The process is extremely thorough and will take slightly longer, however, better hiring decisions is what is important here. Think back to some of your successful and unsuccessful hires. Ask yourself about the ratio of successful hires to unsuccessful ones. If you’d considered the wider personality – or “Complete Individual” of the unsuccessful ones – would the problem have been avoided and the ratio improved?

One of my top performers had a fairly poor reference, bad enough to think twice but having understood their previous role and fully understood them as the “Complete Individual” it was easy to see why they had underperformed.

By using very detailed interviewing techniques, personality profiling assessments, general intelligence assessments, motivational mapping and many more within our recruitment process, at Anderson Scott we’ve not only improved the accuracy of getting the right candidates, but we’ve increased the retention levels for our candidates to over 95%.

Want to learn more about how we improve the accuracy on getting it right – with or without the right reference – then get in touch!