I’m asking this because I haven’t seen a lot of information about it in HR literature and my own HR has never provided guidance.
As background, a former member of my team made it well known he wanted to leave. He secured job interviews, which he told me about, but he didn’t ask specifically for a job reference. I am accustomed to giving them, and for my employees to ask me for them so this was a notable thing for me that he didn’t ask. This employee did not have a good track record, his work was sloppy, he had negligible problem solving skills and on projects he was expected to deliver results on, he was impossibly disorganized, could not take initiative, and when things got really behind, he would clam up and refuse to tell anyone what was wrong, or give any indication that he needed help. Consequently, the other team members were always bailing him out, and he and I had a few terse meetings where we had to review his performance, set goals, measure his ongoing performance, etc. It was exhausting.
I was happy to see him go, but then the HR for his new supervisor (same company, just a different section) called for a job recommendation, and he hadn’t asked me for one… In reviewing the specs for the position he was being considered for, the requirements were for project management, good time management, ability to juggle priorities and deliver results in a timely manner–everything he failed to,deliver when he was on my team.
Well, I was honest with the HR person. It was a gut reaction. Every question HR asked that had to do with an area he was poor in, I answered in detail about his shortcomings. Anything he was good at, I included that in our conversation if I was asked. I was clear that in my opinion, he would not function well on a team or as a team leader.
He got the job in the end, but I always wondered why, since in my line of work and for this company, job references are the thing that clinch the deal, or can be dealbreakers.