How to get references
Always get references as a way to Exclude candidates and get them very early.
Always check: 2 bosses, 2 Peers, 2 Staff, 2 Customers and other colleagues/VCs etc.
Also, try to get other non-provided names to give a view of the candidate if possible for a totally independent view.
The Email to collect refs:
We are a software business considering Paul for the position of VP Sales, US.
He has provided your name as a reference for him and I would appreciate a few moments of your time to help us understand his character along with his suitability for the Job?
We are a software business that is launching into an aggressive market – Digital Rights Management – we need someone that can plan, open doors to key decision makers, present and close $1-20M+ plus revenues annually. Our clients will be everyone from small to large ISVs/software developers and publishers.
This person must also be able to manage themselves and their time to the optimum effect, usually working on their own account and do all the relevant paperwork that goes with a high level job like this. Finally they must be able to recruit, manage and motivate sales staff.
Could you give me your views on his ability to do this effectively along some insight into his character?
-How do you know Paul and what is your view of him as a person? (Honesty, integrity, tenacity, loyalty and ability)
-How long have you known him?
-How does he stack up against other VP Sales you know?
-What would you say are his best and worst skills?
-In what areas does he need improvement?
-What are your thoughts on his work ethic?
-Would you hire him (again)?
Your views will help a great deal.
Many thanks and warm regards,
Always try and get a phone call as many people will not tell the truth on paper and the refs will likely be "friends" or good connections anyway and you are likely to get a better feel if they are poor quality refs via the phone than email!