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Sample Reference Check 1:  Mediocre Recommendation

Background:  This client was getting plent of job interviews but no job offers.  She found out why after receiving the transcript below.  She was surprised to find out this reference was not giving her an excellent recommendation because he was very friendly and nice to her at work.

Transcript of conversation:

Employer:  This is [name of reference].

Interviewer:  Hello, my name is [name of interviewer] and I'm a recruiter with [name of company].  Your law clerk, [name of client], has applied for a position with a law firm and I would like to talk with you a moment about her work performance.
Employer:  Sure.

Interviewer:  Could you confirm her job duties were --
Employer:  Well, she's a law clerk here.  I hired her right out of [name of school] Law School and she's been her since August of last year.

Interviewer:  Okay.  And she prepares the case dockets, drafts opinions, keeps the library updated --
Employer:  She does.

Interviewer:  And of course, she also does legal research and writing.
Employer:    Right.

Interviewer:  And how would you rate her legal research?
Employer:  Good.

Interviewer:  Good?
Employer:  Yes, she does a good job on legal research.

Interviewer:  How would you rate her overall job performance?
Employer:  I'd say uh . . . good.

Interviewer:  And how would you rate her job performance on a scale of 1 to 10?
Employer:  Uh .[long pause] . . . . 7.

Interviewer:  A 7 is sort of average.  Would you give other law clerks that have worked for you a higher rating:  an 8, 9 or 10?
Employer:  Uh . . . no . . . uh, very few that I would give a 9 or 10.

Interviewer:  What do you think were her major accomplishments on the job over the last year?
Employer:  Well, she's . . . oh, gosh, major accomplishments.  That's a hard question!

Interviewer:  Well, okay, what is she particularly good at.  What are her major strengths?
Employer:  She's very personable, very bright.  She's a good people person.  Very intelligent. The other attorneys and personnel really like her.  On legal research she does exactly what I ask her to do.  I'd say her weakness is she . . . well, this is kind of hard to . . . you know, she just doesn't seem to be all . . . she lacks a little interest in the job and what we're doing. And maybe that's an unfair kind of thing but I remember back when I was a law clerk I just thought everything was so new and interesting and I asked all these questions and I was just so interested in all the trials and she is very non-inquisitive about what we're doing here.

Interviewer:  Okay.  Well, if she seems bored perhaps I should ask if she is a self-starter.
Employer:  No.

Interviewer:  Do you say that because she doesn't ask questions or seem interested in the work?
Employer:  Yes.

Okay.  Has she ever had to work under stressful conditions or deadlines?
Employer:  Oh . . . . yeah, on occasion.

Interviewer:  And did she handle that well?  Did she perform well under pressure and do the necessary work?
Employer:  Uh, yeah. I mean, that only happened . . . in this business as you may know you've either got too much to do or too little to do and on those occasions when we've had too much to do she's done fine.

Interviewer:  What about the quality of her legal writing?
Employer:  Very good.  I have no complaint about that.  She's a very intelligent, capable person.

Interviewer:  Okay.  Do you consider her to have a good moral character?
Employer:  Yes.

Interviewer:  And you might have already touched on this, but does she have good communication skills and get along well with everyone?
Employer:  Oh yes.  I mentioned that.  She's a people person.  She's a real good people person.  I mean that's a real strength of hers. Everyone really likes her.  I like her, attorneys like her, my . . . the employees like her really well.

Interviewer:  Now she's applying for a position with a law firm in [name of city] that does a lot of commercial litigation. Do you think she's suited for that kind of work?
Employer:  Well . . . . here's the . . . . I mean you know the thing is she's not really . . . it goes back to you know you asked me if she was a self-starter.

Interviewer:  Yes.
Employer:  Like I say, she always does what I ask her to do, but she doesn't look for things to do and whether that would be . . . it just depends on how much . . . on what role she would play in the law firm.

Interviewer:  She's interested in an associate attorney position doing commercial litigation, labor and employment work.  Has she been exposed to that type of case work the last year?
Employer:  Some.  We've done a couple of sexual harassment lawsuits and of course, we get involved in contract disputes related to employment, so I guess the answer would be yes.

Interviewer:  Do you think she's best suited to do a particular type of legal work other than what she wants to do?
Employer:  No . . . I don't know that I can answer that . . . she's probably suited to do many types of work.  I don't think I can answer that question.  As I said, she has done some employment contract disputes and I know she has some interest in labor law.

Interviewer:  Okay, and how would you compare her to other law clerks you've had through the years:  average, superior, below average?
Employer:  [Long pause] Average.

Interviewer:  Average. Okay.  Is there anything else about her you would like to say that I haven't touched on?
Employer:  Uh, I don't uh . . . no.

Interviewer:  Alright, let me look at her resume a second and see if I have any more questions.  I think that's it.  Thank you for your time.
Employer:  Okay.  Sure.

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