Big News: FounderDating is joining OneVest to build the largest community for entrepreneurs. Details here
Latest Notifications
You have no recent recommendations.
Name
Title
 
MiniBio
FOLLOW
Title
 Followers
FOLLOW TOPIC

Question goes here

1,300 Followers

  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur
  • Name
    Entrepreneur

Is it OK to call up references that weren't listed?

I'm interviewing early hires for our company. As part of the diligence process, I'm asking for references if I feel the candidate may be a fit. The only problem when asking for references is that the candidate will likely cherry pick from his/her work history... which is understandable.

I particularly notice it when the reference is from an older project (skipping a recent project for a more favorable reference in all likelihood). With sites like LinkedIn, you can often find companies (i.e. other startups) they have worked for that are not on the reference list, so it's fairly easy to contact someone outside of the provided reference list, so my question is centered around the ethics of the concept.

Is it kosher to do so? Has anyone done it as part of their hiring processes? What was the feeling on the part of the candidate? Did you disclose that you were doing so before you did it? Not disclose it at all? What was the feeling on the part of the non-reference that you were calling?

Also, just to note, the question isn't about contacting companies the candidate currently works for (which is a-whole-nother topic). This particularly pertains to past work history.

29 Replies

Jessica Alter
4
5
Jessica Alter Entrepreneur • Advisor
Entrepreneur & Advisor
I 100% think it's not only kosher, but smart. That said, I typically only do it if I know someone at that company. I think they are much much less likely to talk to you if you're cold calling for a reference.
Oliver Roup
4
5
Oliver Roup Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder / CEO at VigLink
Not only is it Kosher, I think it's mandatory. The references someone gives you should be hand-picked to rave and thus are less useful. Find some blind references but be very careful not to "out" them to their current employer. That's a serious no-no and a likely cause of bad blood. Also you need to tune for the fact that blind references will be more mixed. References someone gives you are suspect if they're not uniformly glowing. Blind references are going to be much more tempered and you should account for that.
Bill Snapper
7
1
Bill Snapper Entrepreneur
Owner Principal at SammyCO, LLC
It's not a matter of whether it's Kosher or not. Any company you call where you don't know someone personally can only LEGALLY tell you that "so and so worked here" and they can confirm the dates. Now, that said, if you got a rock star and you happened to connect with someone that they worked for and they rave about them you're golden.

Of course people are going to cherry pick their references. Don't assume that because they skipped a project that there was a problem. It could be that they worked for a person that was a train wreck and calling that person might cause you to miss out on a solid good candidate because the train wreck might sound nice and sincere when they're just looking to frag the person.

If you have contacts where they worked you could use those but beware that legally that person isn't supposed to say anything other than confirming dates.
Hai Habot
0
0
Hai Habot Entrepreneur • Advisor
Growth | Business | Marketing
Great team members are the key to any successful company or protect so it's your obligation to do whatever you can to hire the right ones... to add a practical tip to the great feedback from others:

* During the interview you can plant a few hooks that would allow you to easily source for good blind references, e.g. ask about people the candidate worked with or reported to as part of their roles or projects they worked on. you can casually get some names without being too obvious (e.g. while trying to figure out common connections) OR you can be more straightforward and get 2-3 names for every role/project according to a simple check list / template (e.g. managed by X, managed Y, worked closely with Z). with both options, following this pattern should generate a few new names beyond what the candidate would cherry pick + it should be enough (name or part of it + title and company) for you to find them later on linkedin. My personal experience with called emails or linkedin messages was great, most people are happy to help.

* I think there could be some legal implications in case you end up not hiring the candidate based on blind feedback and there is some local legislation that you should check out before doing anything, but you should be fine if the candidate actually approves it (in other words it's not "blind" anymore), like in the example given above, he is the one to mention the names of the people during the interview and you can let him know you might be reaching out to some of them in addition to the ones he provided.
[not intended as a legal advice by any means]

D'anthony Tillery
2
0
D'anthony Tillery Entrepreneur
Sr. Director, Global Talent Acquisition, Diversity & Inclusion
I have seen Managers utilize this approach in my various roles of leading talent acquisition functions. I advise them that if you are going to leverage references you should inform the candidate. In some instances unconscious bias can impact a reference, especially if the reference is someone who was not provided by the individual. I would caution that a reference is and should be used in the total evaluation of an individual and not be leveraged as a stand alone determinant factor in any decision. Too often we think that a reference is the gospel. Put it in context and understand the references direct involvement with the individual.

Again it is just one aspect of any talent evaluation and should not be relied upon as the holistic determination of a person ability to be successful. We judge all criteria that would warrant consideration and evaluate the candidate with full transparency.

Be blessed.


Jake Carlson
11
0
Jake Carlson Entrepreneur • Advisor
Software Development Manager at Oracle
I'm not really on board with this approach. For one, you don't really have a full understanding to whom the candidate wants to disclose that they are on the market. Their current employer is a no-no, but other projects might be ongoing part-time roles, etc. It might not be as simple as just skipping the most recent project.

Second, you don't know the circumstances and the person might just be a jerk or be bitter solely for the reason that they got left in the dust.

Third, IMO it reflects poorly on the candidate that they did not notify the reference before he/she is contacted. Not many people like to get caught off guard like that.

Yes, references are hand picked to be good. If the candidate has 3+ references that all give glowing reviews, does it really matter that you don't get the story from absolutely everyone? If your answer is yes, then at least do the candidate the courtesy of asking permission so they can give you any necessary background info.


Brett Fox
0
4
Brett Fox Advisor
Respected, Results-Oriented CEO, Entrepreneur, Author, and Coach

Should you, the hiring manager, make reference calls, including backdoor reference checks?

Absolutely!You should:

  1. Always ask for references.You never know what you are going to hear.
  2. Do backdoor reference checks.I always do backdoor checks despite what happened to me (I was burned by outdated information). But, I also do the following because of what happened to me:
  • I ask the candidate before I do the reference checks what I am likely to hear. Be brutally honest if an interviewer asks you this question.
  • I take into account the biases of the people giving me the information. The older the information, the more distorted the information is likely to be.
  • I review the information with the candidate before I make a final decision.
STEPHEN KOSMALSKI
3
0
Leading Branded Gift & Collectables Company
I think one needs to be careful regarding doing pre hire references on Linked In or other sources unilaterally. The candidate may not want certain people to know he/she is looking at a new job for a variety of very valid reasons. Word spreads quickly despite all caution taken. I would be hesitant to reach out to any of the candidate's connections without clearing it with the candidate first. From the Desk of Steve Kosmalski
Thomas Jay
4
0
Thomas Jay Entrepreneur
iOS / Server Architect / IoT / BLE / iBeacon / Apple Pay
Barbie did not include her last job on her LinkedIn profile but she did on her resume. Bob the manager knew a cool trick and got in contact with her last employer, they hired her after her last job gave a great review, they even traded information on companies so her old company knew where she went in case they had questions for her..

Barbie had been assaulted at her last company by her boss and now her assailant knows her new employer.

Maybe there was a reason for the privacy.

Just like the social network that connects your friends based on contacts (old boyfriend who still has old girlfriends phone number but girl friend deleted his), you don't always know who is looking for someone and what the outcome could be when you connect them together again.

These are real stories, privacy matters.
Aleksandra Czajka
7
0
Aleksandra Czajka Entrepreneur
Freelance Senior Software Engineer, Developer, Web Developer, Programmer - Full Stack
Well, look at it this way. If you're vetting someone who is a respectable person, values high integrity, starting a partnership, friendship, work relationship and you go behind their back calling up people that might be their good friends they've worked with, that they have not warned and they get offended, you are very much putting the person you're vetting in a position where they need to apologize to their former colleagues. If the connection is strong, you might be laughed at and YOUR phone call will not be returned, not the other way around.

I am a senior software engineer and have been "vetted" in one way or another for technical positions and partnerships. If you did that to me, there is no way I would return your call. It's a slap in the face and tells me that you think your position is hire up than mine and you can do anything you're willing with the people of my network.

Whatever I do, whether it's with friends, family or business, I act with integrity. I do not ever assume I am vetting someone that is lying to me and go behind their back to find out. I treat them with respect and integrity. As far as their abilities, there is a whole lot of ways of vetting that depending on what you're hiring for.
Join FounderDating to participate in the discussion
Nothing gets posted to LinkedIn and your information will not be shared.

Just a few more details please.

DO: Start a discussion, share a resource, or ask a question related to entrepreneurship.
DON'T: Post about prohibited topics such as recruiting, cofounder wanted, check out my product
or feedback on the FD site (you can send this to us directly info@founderdating.com).
See the Community Code of Conduct for more details.

Title

Give your question or discussion topic a great title, make it catchy and succinct.

Details

Make sure what you're about to say is specific and relevant - you'll get better responses.

Topics

Tag your discussion so you get more relevant responses.

Question goes here

1,300 Followers

  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
  • Name
    Details
Know someone who should answer this question? Enter their email below
Stay current and follow these discussion topics?