Creative LeadershipStrategy & Marketing

Hiring People? Don’t Take Their Experience At Face Value

I’m amazed at the number of churches, ministries, and nonprofits who hire people in high-level positions without checking references or doing any background research. Sure we want to believe everything people say about their experience, past work, education, and accomplishments, but after decades of hiring people and watching my clients hire people, I’ve learned that no matter how quickly you need to fill the position, there’s always time to check.

For instance, in many cases, I’ve had media people here in Hollywood tell me they’ve worked for “Fox” – with the inference that it means Fox Film Studios, or Fox Television. But with a closer look, I discovered they’d been an assistant at a local Fox TV station in a small town in the Midwest.

In another situation I had a client excitedly hire a producer from a famous church’s TV ministry, thinking that if they worked for that famous church, she had to be amazing. But I decided to make a few calls, and discovered she had actually been fired from the church, and they were adamant they would never hire her again.

I could go on and on – but you get it. I don’t believe most people lie, however they want to position themselves in the best possible light. So when you look for new employees, follow the old diplomatic strategy – trust but verify.

It can save you a lot of grief in the end.

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7 Comments

  1. Very true, it’s common to pad the CV. But the inverse could be true as well, the employer discounts decades of real experience all in the name of “saving money.” Many times, an experienced, read old, production person can save the client cash because they have been there and done that!

  2. I’m a big fan of Topgrading by Brad Smart. At one point in my career we were hiring 80 people a quarter and reference checks were 100% required for every person. The “Would you hire this person again” question is gold!

  3. I digressed with “Ageism”, so to go back on topic, hiring people is one the most difficult things I’ve ever done. I’ve been fortunate that the CVs haven’t been too inflated and references have been pretty good for the ones I’ve interviewed, but I have and I know most managers have met with folks that knock it out of the park with the interview and experience process, but when hired, they were definitely the wrong choice! Poor attitudes, bad work habits or mainly for me, they simply didn’t mesh with the existing team.

    I’ve always tried to not only run the references but I try set up, when possible, freelance situations for the candidates with experience or a probation period for the less experienced ones just to see how they get along with the existing team. Chemistry is very important in the church tech world.

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