Revealing reference checks


We recently advertised for a hard-to-fill position in our company. We made an offer to the top candidate prior to completing his reference checks. He accepted, and now we’re worried. Several of his references describe him as arrogant, abrasive and a superstar who believes his own press releases and doesn’t care who he ticks off. This stunned us as none of this behavior showed up in the interview.

We’ve decided to take a risk; however, we want to know what we have to do so we don’t regret hiring him.


You have a one in five chance to turn your superstar into a kinder, gentler Darth Vader.

Start by letting him know what you learned during his reference checks. The information you give him may shock him. If it doesn’t, you may want to cut your losses now, as you’ve hired someone who doesn’t worry what others say about him because he knows he can charm prospective employers when you decide you’ve had enough lone ranger drama.

As you’ve learned, your new hire can handle himself well when necessary, as he did during his hiring interview. Let him know you expect him to continue what he showed you and the other interviewers. Additionally, outline the type of cooperation, communication and team-play you consider acceptable in your company and the consequences if he runs roughshod over his peers, employees or customers.

Next, don’t expect to change him by edict. Many highly talented, high-performing employees got where they are, for good or bad, by demonstrating ambition and singular focus. Instead, give him materials that widen his perspective, such as the Arbinger Institute’s Leadership and Self-Deception.

Finally, stay in touch with this situation and don’t wait until problems erupt to intervene. Your company and new hire have a chance — don’t waste it.

© Dr. Lynne Curry is author of ”Beating the Workplace Bully” and ”Solutions” as well as owner of the management/HR consulting/training firm The Growth Company Inc. Follow her on Twitter @lynnecury10 or at

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