Would you hire someone with a bad reference?

Would you hire a candidate with a bad reference? What’s more important, professional validation from a candidates’ former boss or your own judgement?

Whilst it’s important for recruiters to be diligent and ensure they carry out relevant background checks, it seems to depend on the situation as to whether or not they should make that hire. A LinkedIn post justifying a recruiter’s decision for hiring a candidate with a bad reference demonstrates exactly that.

The post, published by a Technical Recruiter, explains her hiring decision, which she says, was the best she’d ever made. She wrote: “When I called the manager, he didn’t give me any substantial reasons. He was not happy that the employee would question decisions. His manager saw him as a threat, and “managed out” this employee.

Going with her own gut feeling, she continued: “From the interview, I could tell the candidate possessed strong leadership skills. He was a realist. He turned out to be an excellent employee that had so much to contribute.

Ending the post with some sound advice for clients, she said: “If you want the company and yourself as a leader to grow, don’t surround yourself with only ‘yes men’ employees. Groupthink will sink the ship! Sadly, many managers prefer to be surrounded by loyalists and sycophants rather than realists.”

The post sparked a debate, with several LinkedIn users questioning Lee’s decision. Alicia Kali, CEO of Panacea Biomed, warned: “Not all people who challenge managers are realists.  Some are trouble makers, whiners and know-it-alls.  Your candidate better be a problem solver or you just made a big mistake. Post in 3-6 months.

Whilst Ryan Regan, a Project Manager at Siemens, said: “And this is why recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt. Had it not been you taking a chance, this manager could have made this candidates career searching much harder.

A similar post, published on LinkedIn by Oleg Vishnepolsky Global CTO at DailyMail Online and Metro, reiterated that trusting your own instinct in recruitment is vital. He said he offered the job to a candidate, and later received a call from his former boss telling him the guy was terrible.

He wrote that the phone call did not change his opinion, explaining: “Firstly, his prior track record was immaculate except for this alleged screw up. Secondly, people are allowed mistakes, we are all human. It is what we learn from mistakes that matters. Thirdly, I learned to trust my own instincts – this candidate was the real thing.”

And, he says, he didn’t look back on his own decision.