Who Should Be Your Reference?

Getting to reference-checking stage of the interview process is exciting. You are so close to landing the job you can almost smell it!

But if you want the process to go smoothly and quickly, you need to be sure you provide the right references.

Recently, a job seeker reached out to me with a question: I've been asked to provide references for an interview I attended last week. Whom should I give?

With references, you should provide the names of supervisors and managers – people who can comment on your work style, performance, and strengths. Most hiring teams will not accept references from colleagues. Your most recent and most relevant roles are going to be of particular interest to the hiring team, so try your best to provide references from these roles. If you are uncomfortable naming anyone from your current role, let the hiring team know.

You can also look through your resume to find previous roles that correlate best with the role for which you are interviewing and offer references from these jobs.

It's important to note that deciding whom your references should be is only the first step. You also need to prepare those references for the process.

Don't just hand over their names and numbers without speaking to them first. Take the time to call each of your references and ask their permission. Discuss the opportunity with them and let them hear your enthusiasm for the role. Offer to send through the job ad or position description. The more they know about the role, the better their reference will be.

While you are talking to your references, ask them about the best times to contact them. For many hiring managers, getting in touch with references often turns into a lengthy game of phone tag. If you can provide the hiring manager with your reference's availability, you'll help them save time – and present yourself as a proactive worker.

If it has been a few days since you provided your references and you haven't heard back yet, touch base with the hiring team. Ask if they have spoken to your references yet. If they haven't, offer to help arrange a time to contact them. If they have, ask if there is any further information you can provide and when you should expect to hear back.

After your references have been checked, be sure to call them to thank them for taking the time to give you a reference. Not only is this great manners, but it will also give you the opportunity to ask them how it went.

Stacey Gleeson is the founder and job search/interview coach at Primed Interviews. If you have a question about your job search, send her an email at stacey.gleeson@primedinterviews.com.au.