You finally got an interview at that great company you’ve been trying to get into for months. You go in, the interview goes great, they ask for your references and the next thing you know, you don’t get the job. So, what went wrong? Well, according to workplace expert Michelle Goodman, the problem is often your references. So here’s how to avoid the four most common reference disasters from ABC News.
- The first way to make sure your references don’t cost you a job is to be choosy! If you’re not 100% sure the person is going to give you a solid reference, then don’t put them on the list. One hiring manager in Philadelphia says she’s shocked at all the terrible reviews she gets from people who are listed as references. Another recruiter called a reference who was so surprised to find himself on the candidate’s list that he couldn’t stop laughing. When choosing references, ask yourself three things: Does this person know who I am? Did they work with me on a regular basis? Would I feel comfortable calling them myself? If you have three yeses, then put them on the list.
- Next, give your references the heads up, and make sure they know you’re using them as a referral and the type of job you’re looking for. Goodman says the biggest mistake you can make is having a hiring manager call a person who’s totally caught off guard. The manager might take the hesitation in their voice as a lack of confidence in your abilities. Even worse is a person who never returns the phone call. This makes hiring managers think you listed a phony.
- Also, give the reference information about the job itself. Goodman recommends sending them the job description and recent copy of your resume so they’re up to date. If it’s been a while since the person worked with you, remind them about how much they enjoyed it by getting them to talk a little bit about old times.
- Finally, have a couple of back-ups. If you’re going on several interviews a month, you don’t want your references to get sick of going to bat for you. Most jobs only ask for three or four so keep a list of eight so you can rotate them. If there’s someone who hasn’t returned a few phone calls, get them off the list and move on.