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[ BurkBrick -at- AOL -dot- COM writes: ]
> This is awkward for me; I'd like to keep their friendship, but I also don't
> want to be put in a position where I will feel obligated to say nice things
> about people I know aren't great employees.
Given the way people expect the reference system to work, you might be
better off telling them up front that you think that you would not be
such a great reference. Otherwise they may think (wrongly) that you
are going to give them a good reference. They would be better served
by finding someone else.
If they're really smart, they'll take your refusal as a sign that they
need to learn something, and ask you for a candid assessment. If they
equate friendship with blindly positive references, they aren't such
good friends, IMHO. Depends on why you are friends, I suppose.
If you're their supervisor (or already stuck), you may get into the
situation of having to comment on them. I guess the best rhetorical
approach is say what they do well (probably lower-level tasks), and
then be honest if you are asked if they do higher-level tasks well.
I would avoid volunteering negative information--let the interviewer
ask specific questions. If they say 'this is the job, do you
think this person can do it', it would be better if you were honest.
You may meet the interviewer sometime yourself.
John Gough john -at- atrium -dot- com
Principal Technical Writer voice (512) 328-6977
Atrium Technologies fax (512) 328-2789