Reference Check: Sample Report 12:  Really Bad Recommendation

Summary:  (Name withheld) gave you a bad recommendation.  She is not easy to reach in person; I phoned her many times last week and always reached her voice mail.  She did not respond to two voice mail messages left for her.  She answered the phone when I called Monday, October 20th.  Transcript of conversation:

Employer:  Susan speaking.

Interviewer:  Hello, my name is (name withheld) with (company withheld).  I'm doing a reference check on a former employee of yours, (name withheld).
Employer:  Okay.

Interviewer:  Can I speak with you for a few minutes?
Employer:  Sure.

Interviewer:  She was employed with your company from January '02 to November '12.
Employer:  Yeah, that's pretty close.

Interviewer:  And she was a software developer.  She did report writing?
Employer:  She did some report writing for our clients.

Interviewer:  And how would you rate her job performance?
Employer:  Well, I'm kind of in a situation now where I have to be honest.  We wouldn't have her back.

Interviewer:  Oh, really?  May I ask why?
Employer:  She just had too much going on in her head and she's probably very good at what she does when she can get her mind in business and not everything else.  She just had too much going on to be of any use to us here.  I hate to be mean.  I truly hate to be mean but I'd hate to give her a good reference and then have her behave for you like she did for us.

Interviewer:  Could you be more specific?  Are you saying that personal problems affected her work or she had a bad attitude or what?
Employer:  Personal problems.

Interviewer:  So, she brought her personal problems to work with her?
Employer:  Very much so.  They totally consumed her every moment.

Interviewer:  Was she going through a divorce or what?
Employer:  No it wasn't anything specific, uh, she would be very scattered; not dependable; would come in late if she came in at all.  It was very ugly and we actually kept her much too long.

Interviewer:  So, she was fired?
Employer:  Oh, yeah.

Interviewer:  For bad performance or missing work -- what was the official reason for the firing?
Employer:  Bad performance. Yeah.  Yeah, we were just getting no work out of her.  Uh, we actually even wanted to replace her back in February and the client said, "No, let her stick around a little bit; give her another chance."  And it just proceeded to get worse from there and finally in early November we said, you know, we just can't have this anymore.

Interviewer:  Okay, so on a scale of 1 to 10, if you can, could you rate her work -- just her work.  I mean, forget everything else and just rate the quality of the work that she did complete.
Employer:  Uh, I don't think I can. She never completed any work.

Interviewer:  Well, her resume lists some technical skills and accounting skills -- can you rate her technical and accounting skills for me? [There was a long silence so I asked another question.]  Did she have good technical skills?
Employer:  If she did I never got to see them.  Let's put it that way.

Interviewer:  Well, did she complete any of her work on time?
Employer:  Never.

Interviewer:  Did she get along with others -- management, co-workers, clients?
Employer:  Oh, yeah.  There was nothing wrong there.  She didn't have any problems getting along with people, although she, she was a little bit timid with the clients.  She actually didn't want to deal with the client at all.  If she had any issues she would just talk through me.

Interviewer:  Can you say anything good about her at all?  Does she have any strengths?  I mean, she must have had something for you to have hired her in the first place.
Employer:  The best thing I could possibly say about her is I'm sure she's got potential if she could get her personal life straightened out to where she became mentally stable, then I'm sure she would be a good employee for you.  You know, it's funny that you called because I asked her specifically not to use me as a reference.

Interviewer:  Oh, really?
Employer:  Yes, I did.  I told her, and I wasn't trying to be mean or anything, but I told her, "In all honesty I really can't say anything that would benefit you if I were going to be honest about it."

Interviewer:  Alright, well --
Employer:  And this was in, I mean, we got rid of her in November of last year so maybe things have changed for her, maybe she's gotten some help and has gotten her act together.  She may be totally different.  I haven't spoken to her since then.

Interviewer:  Well, thank you for your time.
Employer:  I'm very sorry.

Interviewer:  That's quite alright.  Bye.
Employer:  Bye.


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