Big interview ahead? Pick your references carefully. Here’s 5 tips!

13 Jul


One of the biggest names in college basketball coaching called me on behalf of a candidate. The only problem was that the big-time coach mispronounced the guy’s name that he supposedly knew so well. Ouch! I wasn’t impressed. As a matter of fact, it had the opposite effect. Pick your references carefully.

Power of WHO Tips

  1. Having people who barely know you make calls on your behalf is risky. It’s a potential minefield simply because you don’t know how the people you’re using as references are being perceived on the other end.  So, tread lightly and choose wisely.
  2. If you happen to know the hiring person’s best friend or boss/mentor—now that’s gold! Doing the research to find out if you know any friends or associates of the hiring executive is time well spent.
  3. There’s another unseen danger with references. Having worked with thousands of candidates during the last thirty years, I can confidently predict that if you give me six or seven references, one of them will trash you. It really hurts to know that the person who trashed you is a name you gave as a reference. That one bad reference could cost you your Dream Job.
  4. Make sure that all the names you provide as personal references come only from your “Who” friends.
  5. Having great references, endorsements, and testimonials are your most powerful allies. When someone else says you’re great, you are! So choose your references carefully and you won’t have to toot your own horn.

2 Responses to “Big interview ahead? Pick your references carefully. Here’s 5 tips!”

  1. Terrence Chavis July 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

    Excellent tips. I adhere to Tip #4 religiously now unless there is someone that fits Tip #2 that I feel will be more beneficial to me.

  2. Traveler July 22, 2010 at 5:40 am #

    You’re right about not always knowing what references might say- it’s best to vet them before using them. You can use a service like or to find out what your references are saying about you.

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