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"I Thought You Were My Friend"

By Prudence A. Cole

You interviewed for a great job. You are one of the last 3 candidates but certain that you have the edge over the others. All that is left is for the employer to check your references.

The next call you get is from the employer telling you they have pick one of the other candidates. So, what happened?

The hiring process is hardly a science and in most cases it is not even an art. Most interviewers are not very sophisticated in their approach, so any number of things can go wrong. But as you look back on the process, did you ever follow-up with your references?

I was asked recently to be a reference for a colleague hoping to make a job change. He told me the name of the company and who would be contacting me. He mentioned that it would be a job similar to what he was doing, but a step up. That was all.

The call finally came and I had what I thought was a productive conversation. The interviewer had a number of questions including the old standby, “What is Dave’s weakness?” I thought for a moment and gave a truthful answer, “…he gets down when progress is not fast enough.” Now the rest of the information I imparted was very positive, but it seems that this one statement was a concern. It certainly was to Dave when I spoke with him later.

So, what’s the solution? Bottom line; don’t leave your references to chance. They need to be as developed and tested. You didn’t go into your interviews without preparing so why would you let your references.

Practice with your references. Ask them a series of questions and practice their answers with them. Give them as much detail on the position you are seeking and what you believe the company is looking for. Don’t forget, you can always ask the interviewer what they want to achieve with contacting your references. The point is to make sure that your reference will be an asset, not the reason you didn’t get the job.

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