10,000 Reference Checks . . . After the Fact
INTERVIEW EDGE • JULY 1991
Imagine you just filled a six-figure executive position with an out-of-state candidate. Then you received 10,000 copies of a front-page story from the candidate's home town pointing out he is a 20-year crook.
Well, that's what happened when the Missouri attorney general's office recently received 10,000 copies of a San Francisco Examiner article about Walter Marks, who had just been hired as superintendent of the Kansas City school district.
Why the concern by 10,000 citizens? Marks was ousted last December as Richmond, California schools superintendent after leading the now bankrupt school district into a $67 million deficit. The article in the Examiner detailed a 20 year career of ripping off school districts in five states, but always landing on his feet in a better job elsewhere. Why are we reporting on this sordid case from the public sector in our newsletter?
This story is a glaring example of the things that can go wrong in filling any open job when the basics are ignored. Such basics include noticing repeated patterns of behavior in a candidate, using the PAR model (problem-action-result) to really understand accomplishments, and conducting real reference checks.