By Michael Solomon, 10x Management Co-Founder
Conducting a proper reference check for agile talent (sometimes referred to as freelancers, 1099s, consultants, contractors, etc.) is a crucial step in the hiring process. At 10x Management, the first tech talent agency, we have refined the reference check process down to a beautiful science.
The difference between a good reference check and a great reference check can be the difference between hiring a mediocre freelancer and an amazing freelancer.
Find Out How They Handle Adversity
A good reference check will give you some idea of a candidate’s general performance.
A great reference check will find out how a candidate handled the most challenging and stressful problems that arose in their previous engagement.
Relationships live and die by conflict resolution. Rarely will a relationship be completely free of conflict, and learning how reasonable someone is when things are challenging is hugely insightful and perhaps the biggest determinant of success.
Fact Check the Story
A good reference check will ask the reference to describe their relationship to the candidate.
A great reference check will have the candidate’s resumé open while having a conversation, checking for consistencies with the candidate’s story.
This helps understand the level of intimacy between the reference and the candidate. You wouldn’t believe some of the horror stories I’ve heard about references provided not checking out.
Know Their Blind Spots
A good reference check will ask about the candidate’s best trait or characteristic.
A great reference check will ask about where the candidate might still improve and how you can best structure the role to minimize any weaknesses.
If you think you are hiring the perfect candidate, I’ve got news for you – nobody’s perfect. Find out about the candidate’s weaknesses in advance so you can learn how to best manage them. See if there are any weaknesses you haven’t already uncovered.
How Can You Bring Out Their Best?
A good reference check will find out if the person is capable of doing the job.
A great reference check will find out the best way to manage someone for maximum effectiveness.
Ultimately, you need to know how to make the candidate effective in the role they are filling. If the candidate is a great freelancer but only works well with specific directions, this is something you should know before engaging them.
The Difference Between Good and Great
When the welfare of your company is on the line, the difference between a good reference check and a great reference check can be the difference between hiring an ordinary person and an extraordinary person.
Ask the important questions and really get to the heart of the issues that are important in understanding the candidate.
If you like this article, you might enjoy reading Understanding How to Manage Freelancers