Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
The week before flying to Los Angeles for the Search Committee interview had been very busy. Asking a candidate for their references is always a tipping point: How a candidate reacts when you ask for references is very telling. By the time I actually ask, I've already spent better than 20 hours with them. I know their life story and career history in detail. I know their accomplishments and a few of their failures: who they worked with, and who they moved on from. Heck, at this point I can probably predict what they had for breakfast that day. That's because I listen intensely every time they tell their story, and take copious notes when they're deep in conversations with members of the Search Committee.
When I ask someone for their references, I'm hoping they give me the names of people I've already heard of from all that listening. And I wasn't disappointed by Jim. No one was missing from the list I'd already compiled privately. I was sure he had nothing to hide and was genuine, that his “what you see is what you get” swagger was authentic and that my 1,000th search would come to a successful conclusion. Well, let's just say I wasn't disappointed: Jim had listened carefully to what I said I needed, and that's exactly what he provided. Jim's list contained the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of 22 people ...