To get the most valuable information out of reference checks, Intuit co-founder Scott Cook asks a very specific question.
Cook knows that most people try to be nice, so they will give the candidate a good reference. However, this doesn’t help employers in finding the right person. Cook says in First Round Review that he completely ignores any opening feedback about the abilities of the potential hire. Once the reference finishes talking, Cook will ask:
“Among all of the people you’ve seen in this position, on a zero to 10 scale, where would this person rank?”
If the answer is “seven,” Cook will then ask why the person isn’t a nine or a 10. “Then you’ll finally start learning about what this person really thinks,” he says.
At the end of the conversation, Cook will ask for suggestions on other people who can give a reference on the candidate. He then repeats his process.
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