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What to Ask a Job Candidate's References

How to get the most out of a prospect's biggest cheerleaders

By Joel Schwartzberg - November 12, 2012
You just selected your favorite job applicant and asked for references, but how useful is that list really? Not only was each name on the list carefully selected to give the best impression, but sometimes references are even coached in advance.

"Typically, the first question people ask when they agree to be a reference is, 'What do you want me to say about you?'" explained hiring consultant and trainer Nelson Scott. "With a little preparation, the reference is ready with a rehearsed answer when the potential employer calls."

Given that, can anything of worth be revealed by talking to references, or will it be like asking a cheerleader to name her favorite team? While there is value in making those calls, here's what any manager can do to yield the most meaningful answers.


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