The benefits of checking references before personnel interviews begin

talent mgt., May 2010 at 44, describes how GlaxoSmithKline tested a novel approach to assessing job candidates. They piloted a method that used a Web-based tool to analyze references before the decisive interviews of new hires, including lawyers.

Once the top three to five candidates were identified they were asked “to electronically select and provide information on five professional references.” GSK relied on the software to notify those references, tell them the candidate had waived liability (since some references do not want to risk being sued for what they disclose), and remind them that their responses would be aggregated with those of other references to preserve anonymity and confidentiality.

Most of the references completed an online survey that asked approximately 20 behaviorally based questions and a few questions on the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, all of which were compiled by GSK’s software. That information greatly benefited the company personnel who eventually interviewed the candidates (See my post of May 22, 2009: hiring interviews for lawyers with 6 references.). General counsel might consider a similar method for senior-level hires.

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