Thumbs up

We are interviewing a lot at CB Insights these days. And one of the key things I hammer on now is references.

So assuming the team likes you, we ask for references. This used to be a useless formality.

But now I’d say 1 of 3 candidates don’t pass the reference phase. If you cannot find 2-3 folks who are effusive about you, that is a warning sign.

I am still refining my technique on reference calls but feel like the questions are getting better at uncovering the essence of a person.

For those who have or are hiring, have you found certain questions really help understand someone’s impressions of a person you are hiring when doing a reference?

I’d love to hear them in the comments.

5 Thoughts on “Thumbs up

  1. Thing we figured out is calling their references is good, but you need to root around LinkedIn and find people they worked with that they didn’t brainwash ahead of time to say great things about them. You’ll get much more honest feedback and avoid those disaster hires we all regret. Nothing worse than hearing from the provided references, as often that is people feeling sorry for them if they are not good. Call me paranoid. Be paranoid. Your company’s jobs are sacred.

    • Anand Sanwal on January 24, 2015 at 8:41 pm said:


      Great point and thanks for reading. I definitely do this, but one challenge I’ve found with this is that LinkedIn is no longer only close connections, i.e. you met someone at a conference once and they invite you to connect. So unfortunately, I’ve found that only 1 of 4 LI connections usually know the person well enough to comment. That said, still better than nothing for sure.

      Totally agree — company’s jobs are sacred. Especially, when you’re 25 or 50 people, the damage of the wrong candidate is far too great.


  2. I also think there’s something to be said for the in person reference check vs. the phone reference check. Fred had a nice post about this back when I had less grey hair but it’s still quite relevant:

    • Anand Sanwal on January 25, 2015 at 10:01 pm said:

      Hey John,

      Interesting idea. Had never thought of the face to face reference check, but as Fred’s post highlights, it probably only is feasible at very high level positions. But there is definitely some additional context one gets in-person versus via the phone.

      Def one we’ll need to do as we bring on more senior highers.

      Thanks for the comment.


  3. Pingback: Questions I Ask on Reference Calls

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