Why Perfect References Aren’t Always a Good Thing

My favorite business guru, Tom Peters, blogged recently that “hiring is the most important aspect of business” and I couldn’t agree more. I know down to my core that if we hire the right people, they will take care of our customers, they will be passionate about our business, and they will always strive to do the right thing.

Why is why, in addition to interviewing well and having great writing/coding samples, candidates for positions at Matrix Group must have great references. Paradoxically, we’re less inclined to hire a person with a perfect track record and perfect references, you know, the person who has never missed a deadline, never gone over budget, and never had a project go south. Why?

Because top talent has experienced some serious screw ups and they have recovered, and they have seen the impact of poorly managed or poorly engineered projects.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to hear about one screw up after another, but I do want candidates to tell me what they have learned from their mistakes and those of others, and how their experiences will help them avoid FUBARs in the future.