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Checking the References of Potential Execs

July 22, 1999
Here are some important issues to address when interviewing a reference for an executive-level candidate.

  1. How well does he/she make decisions, particularly when dealing with incomplete or ambiguous information? Ask the person to expand on the answer.
  2. Using a specific project as a point of reference, describe how the candidate’s problem-solving skills were exhibited, and how he or she contributed to its success.
  3. How well does the candidate work with others including supervisors, subordinates, peers and people outside the organization? Can you give me an example?
  4. Describe how the candidate sells ideas and projects to others?
  5. How does the candidate work in a structured environment? Is he or she better in a hierarchical, entrepreneurial or team environment?

SOURCE: Michael D. Zinn & Associates, Inc., Princeton, NJ, Feb. 16, 1999.