|Don't ask to ask, just ask|
At what stage in a job interview process should references come into play?by princepawn (Parson)
|on Feb 11, 2002 at 05:58 UTC||Need Help??|
<html><head><title>Why I Hate Getting References for Prospective Employers</title></head> <body>
I am writing this to get some different opinions on the candidate assessment process and whether or not the request for candidate references should come before or after making an offer to the candidate. And what the pros and cons of that might be. crossposted to jobs-discuss at <a href=http://jobs.perl.org>jobs.perl.org</a>. I hope this isn't considered very off-topic. It certainly came about during a Perl job search, so it is somewhat related.
I am happy to say that I am moving through the recruitment process very smoothly with one new prospective employer thanks to the Net-Temps job search website.
I took a Perl Technical Test that had 5 blatant errors in it, but I worked past them and managed to score in the 90+ percentile on a 40-question test.
Now we get to my sore spot:
Can I get a couple of technical references to call up and ask some questions?I think maybe 5-10 percent of all recruiting firms still ask for references and I hope that number plummets to zero soon. Here are my reasons why:
Not a Very Direct Means of AssessmentPeople call up former employers for 3 reasons.
While I have no qualms with intent number one, this could be handled by a company's HR department or by asking for pay stubs. However reason 2 is somewhat superficial. Is it fair to assess my character by word-of-mouth? It this much different from gossip? Regarding reason 3, it is far more direct to simply give the person a technical test or look at his recent certifications on such tests instead of calling someone and asking how technically sound I am - especially considering that the person calling probably isn't too technically sound himself.
Wasting my Former Employer's Time.
During the dot-com era, I would get maybe 40 calls per day from recruiters. A basic reference call takes about 5-10 minutes. That totals 200-400 minutes of time of my employer, or about a whole day, answering questions for someone. He does not get paid by his company to do this and I don't get paid to request such services of them.
This reason compounds per-former employee.
You Are Getting an Opinion from Someone I Disliked Enough to Leave or Who Disliked Me Enough to Remove Me. If You Like Me, then You Will Probably Hate Them as Much as I Did.
Let's face it. Breakups are painful situations. When there is something about a situation that forces a company to drop you or for you to leave, there are bound to be some leftover feelings of ill will towards each other. Not a lot, necessarily, but it is fairly common for each person to make himself and his reasons right and the other person wrong and misinformed.
And in some cases, the employee might actually have been right. But the reference review process is laying full weight of "who was right" in the hands of the employer.
Why is this not good? Well, many former employees have sued their companies because of negative recommendations because they in fact were good employees but the company said negative things about them out of hate. A lawsuit is well and good for those who have the time, money, and determination to take a risk with the legal system. But for others, such as myself, I am potentially left with some employer licking his chops at a chance to give his reasons why <me></me> is the Adolph Hitler of the IT World. In fact, I prefer to be considered the Andy Rooney of perlmonks, but that's another story for another time
It is Hard to Get References
For me, it is hard to get references. I have worked at 4 dot-coms in the past 3 years: 2 are toast. One has changed names 2 or 3 times and no-one I knew there is answering emails and they dont post phone numbers at their website. And one, by George, is still in business! And the financial industry is getting slaughtered as well. My reference at one of those companies has a bounced email address now too. But of course, I am the one who gets those long pauses when I give this story. I am the one who is a lying fugitive on the run from my past employers. Everything I say is oh-so-suspect-and-on-so-hard-to-believe. GAH!
Also, I know for a fact that many major corporations simply do not give any sort of character or technical reference. They will only corroborate that you did in fact work there and that you did in fact work for a certain person.
Takes a Long Time to Know Someone
It is not possible to know anyone by word-of-mouth well. Enough said.
Well, I would like to hear about other people's viewpoints on this. I personally hope that the reference process is annihilated.
In fact, after my last such ordeal I hate promised myself that I would not ever give out references until I had signed off on an offer. In other words, I feel it is OK for references to serve as a background check, but not as a means of validating me as a prospective employee.
However, since this recruiter was the only the 4th to call in 30 days, I am lowering my standards in hopes of being fed the doggy bone of paid Perl development.</body></html>
Edit Masem 2002-02-19 - Added READMORE tag