Category: Management

To check, or not to check references, that is the question?

People often ask me why I bother conducting reference checks when candidates are only going to give names of people who like them, right? Wrong!

Have you ever interviewed someone and have this niggling doubt about their character? Why not ask the question in the reference check? The referee can either confirm or deny how you are feeling.

We had a candidate, say her name was “Julie” who breezed her way through the interview, never admitting to fault or having made any mistakes. I had alarm bells going off in my head. How can a person be so perfect that they have never made an error and how could they not take the opportunity to learn from their mistakes? When I asked Julie’s referee how Julie dealt with negative feedback? Her manager said “she was terrible at taking on feedback and admitting mistakes, she thinks she is perfect”. We didn’t hire Julie!

In fact, reference checks should not be standard, they should be tailored to each role and should also include questions that ensure the candidates aligns with the values of the company.

At Proclaim, we also use a process called “top grading” interviews. Topgrading is a chronological interview that takes candidates through their full career. With candidates motivated to be totally honest, you delve into every job – and every success, failure, key decision, and key relationship including manager relationships.

We find the threat of reference check (or TORC Technique) to be very effective in soliciting honest answers from candidates. At every step in the hiring process, we remind candidates that before receiving an offer from our organisation, we will speak to their manager and confirm their story.

At the end of this process we conduct thorough top grading reference checks to confirm the story of the referee vs the potential new Proclaimer. If the stories match then we know that they have been honest throughout the process.

So when hiring, make sure you have tailored reference check questions. If you don’t, you are missing a great opportunity to confirm if the person really is who they say they are, in the interview.


What do good leaders do?

In a recent meeting with Jo Burston, CEO of Inspiring Rare Birds, a very successful entrepreneur, I noticed that she rattled off statistics of her business really quickly and easily.

I couldn’t help but wonder do successful business leaders walk around with a few key statistics in their head? Why do so many of us women shy away from numbers ?

Financial literacy is something we aren’t born with, it’s learned and yet it seems when we were younger we were either exposed to it from our families in business or if we weren’t, we had to make a conscious effort at school or uni to study accounting. As adults we often say, I’m not good at Maths or I don’t really understand the numbers in my business, that’s my accountants role!

In a recent education session with Jo Burston, CEO, Inspiring Rare Birds, we discussed the importance of knowing Revenue, Gross Profit (GP) / Operating Expenditure (OPEX) and Net Profit after Tax (NPAT) in your business and comparing these year on year.

When dealing with business facts, Jo says “choose 2- 3 key facts and write down the stats on a post it note on your desk and then when you need them they are there.”

Another thing many of us women were never taught is how to evaluate a business or how to get involved in investment of other companies. I love companies like SHEEO who make it easy to invest $1000 in a growing female led business, it makes it easy to put some skin in the game. You can find out more here

In a world where we need to learn so much to stay ahead in business, I realise that to be an effective leader we can’t shy away from the numbers, we must take time to travel the financial literacy journey and remember to walk around with a few key stats in your head, be ready to sprout them as loudly and as often as possible!