• Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Giving references to the people you know is great, it feels good helping someone land a new job and start a new career, but it also carries a responsibility. After all, the answers you give might make or break the deal! Many feel the pressure and are often compelled to give vague answers or focus on the positives. That doesn’t help!

I often do reference checks on my candidates and I ask questions regarding their weaknesses or negatives but that’s only to make sure that they are a fit to the role at hand. When talking to a prospective boss, how do you feel about giving honest answers regarding someone’s weaknesses?

Answering Weakness-Related Questions

Answering Weakness-Related Questions

Giving Reference Check - By Job Function


As you can see from the poll results, 37% were not comfortable with the question. 11% thought it’s okay to tell the employer that this question is inappropriate and 26% would rather focus on positives and not mention the negatives. That’s not what the employer is looking for! The hiring manager or recruiter know that this candidate is not perfect. That doesn’t mean that they will be put out of process, it just gives the employer a better understanding of this person to make the right decision.

If you were faced with such questions, only give relevant answers and if you know of weaknesses that must be shared with the employer, share them. You can share these details and then follow them by positives that could outweigh these drawbacks. Not all weaknesses are deal breakers, what you consider a weakness may not be viewed as a weakness by the new employer.

Remember, it’s important to be honest when giving a reference check, but it’s also important to mention relevant information. Ask about the company, the position, and the responsibilities at the beginning of the conversation!

What are your thoughts about reference checks? Have you had any difficulties with them ? Feel free to share your experience!

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One Response

  1. 1
    Mike , HR 

    Interesting poll, thanks for sharing!

    During reference check calls, we expect honest answers. We hate to bring people on board and let them go… Weaknesses perceived by you are not necessarily considered weaknesses in others point of view.

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