Checking references is key: work ethic is a predictor of future performance

Sept. 22, 2010
Dianne Glasscoe Watterson says the No. 1 trait that can predict whether an employee will be a GOOD employee is work ethic. Checking references is one way to assure you hire the best.

By Dianne Glasscoe Watterson

The No. 1 trait that can predict whether an employee will be a good employee is WORK ETHIC! A job candidate’s past performance is the best indication of his or her future performance. Surprisingly, studies show that doctors check references for only 10% to 20% of the people they hire.

An applicant should provide at least three references. These may be former employers, peers at previous positions, fellow members of professional associations, or former teachers or professors. Rarely is a family member a suitable reference.

When checking references, talk to those who best know the job performance of the individual, such as the doctor or office manager. Instead of using the word “reference,” say: “Mary Smith is being considered for a position in our office. She suggested I contact you to verify some facts about her background. May I ask a few questions?”

If you encounter resistance from references about providing information, it could be that the former employer is fearful of being sued by the candidate for defamation of character. Generally, when performance is good, the reference person will readily share information. If no one will speak for the candidate, this is a red flag. The most critical question is, “Given the opportunity, would you hire this person again?”

Author bio
Dianne Glasscoe Watterson, RDH, BS, is a professional speaker, writer, and consultant to dental practices across the United States. She is CEO of Professional Dental Management, based in Frederick, Md. To contact Glasscoe Watterson for speaking or consulting, call (301) 874-5240 or e-mail [email protected]. Visit her Web site at