Do Employers Check References

Do Employers Check References? Everything You Need to Know

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Do employers check references? Usually, when you’re in the nail-biting throes of a job hunt, you tend to focus on perfecting your resume and honing your interview skills.

But, here’s the curveball: employers have a secret weapon up their sleeves. It’s called “reference checking,” and oh boy, is it more common than you might think.

So, if you’ve ever wondered whether those references you listed actually get a call, buckle up as we dive into the nitty-gritty of this behind-the-scenes game.

Get ready to uncover the truth about whether employers truly check references – and why it matters more than you could ever imagine.

Purpose of References When Applying for a Job

References serve as a glowing testimonial to your skills and character, like a trusted friend vouching for you. They inject credibility into your job application, giving employers a glimpse into your real-world impact.

These words from mentors, supervisors, or colleagues paint a vivid picture of your work ethic and abilities. Just as a sprinkle of seasoning enhances a dish, references spice up your application.

Employers seek assurance that you’re the right fit, and references provide that seal of approval.

So, choose your references wisely, ensuring they can speak to your strengths. Your job hunt journey gets an edge with these powerful allies by your side.

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Who Should I Put as My References?

Select references who have witnessed your professional prowess firsthand. Opt for supervisors who’ve seen your dedication and growth, or colleagues who’ve collaborated closely.

Choose mentors who’ve guided your development, showcasing your character. These individuals should not only sing praises but also recount specific instances that highlight your skills and qualities.

Your references should know your story, painting a complete picture of you as an asset. Tailor your choices to the job you’re pursuing; if possible, align their expertise with the role.

Strong references bolster your credibility and affirm your potential, giving employers the confidence to bring you aboard.

Do I have to Tell My References That They May Be Contacted?

It’s a courtesy and a smart move. Informing your references beforehand allows them to be prepared and present the best version of your professional self. It shows respect for their time and willingness to support you.

Plus, unexpected calls can catch them off guard, leading to less impactful conversations.

When you give a heads-up, your references can tailor their responses to match the job you’re seeking. Open communication also fosters trust, maintaining strong relationships that could benefit you in the long run.

So, always extend the courtesy and keep the collaboration smooth and effective.

Read: Resume Tips 101: How Far Back Should A Resume Go

Do Employers Check References Before Interview?

Employers typically check references after the initial interview phase. They first assess your qualifications and potential fit for the role.

If you align with their requirements, they’ll then contact your references to validate your skills, work ethic, and character. This approach streamlines the hiring process, as thorough reference checks are time-consuming.

So, focus on acing the interview, and once you’ve captured their interest, your references will help confirm your suitability for the position.

It’s like the final stamp of approval that solidifies your candidacy and enhances your chances of moving forward in the selection process.

Do Employers Actually Call the References?

Yes, employers often reach out to the references you provide. These conversations offer valuable insights beyond your resume and interviews.

Reference checks help employers confirm your skills, work habits, and overall suitability for the role.

While not all employers may contact references, it’s a common practice to ensure they’re making informed hiring decisions.

Therefore, it’s crucial to choose references who can speak positively about your abilities and experiences.

When Do Employers Call References?

Employers usually call references after initial interviews and when they’re serious about hiring you. It’s a step towards finalizing their decision.

Once your interview performance piques their interest, they’ll reach out to verify your skills and character. Reference checks help confirm your claims and ensure you’re a good fit.

However, not all employers call references for every candidate. If you notice references being contacted, it’s a positive sign that you’re a strong contender.

Always inform your references in advance, so they’re prepared for potential calls and can provide impactful insights about you.

Also, read: When To Include Your GPA On Your Resume | 2023 Tips

What Do Employers Ask From References?

Employers ask references about your work performance, strengths, areas of improvement, and how you handle challenges. They aim to validate the information you’ve provided in your application and interviews.

Specific questions can include how you collaborate, your reliability, and your adaptability. By gathering perspectives from those who have worked with you, employers gain a more holistic view of your abilities and character.

This process helps them make informed decisions, ensuring a candidate is fit for the company culture and job requirements.

Well-rounded information from references complements the employer’s understanding, contributing to a more accurate assessment of your potential as an employee.

Does It Mean I Got the Job If They Are Checking My References?

Not necessarily. While reference checks are a positive sign that you’re being seriously considered, they don’t guarantee a job offer.

Employers conduct these checks to verify your qualifications and ensure you align with their expectations. It’s a standard part of the hiring process.

However, factors like competition, budget constraints, and other candidates can influence the final decision.

So, be optimistic, but continue to explore other opportunities until you receive a formal offer. Reference checks are a step forward, but not the ultimate indicator of securing the position.

What Happens If References Don’t Answer?

If references don’t answer, it could slightly delay the hiring process but is generally not a deal-breaker.

Employers understand that references may have busy schedules. They might attempt multiple contacts or reach out through different means.

If they can’t reach a reference, they might proceed with the information they have or ask you for an alternative reference. It’s always wise to inform your references in advance and provide their preferred contact details.

If an employer can’t get in touch with a reference, they’ll likely focus on other aspects of your application and interview before making a decision.

Also, see: How To Write A Good Customer Service Resume in 2023 + Free Examples

Can References Stop You From Getting a Job?

Yes, references can affect your job chances. Negative feedback or vague responses might raise doubts about your suitability.

If references don’t align with your application or if there’s inconsistency, employers might hesitate. It’s important to choose references who can speak positively and accurately about you. Keeping them informed helps.

References carry weight, and if they don’t match your claims or show red flags, employers might choose another candidate who seems like a safer bet.


What if I am asked for references but don’t have any?

If you lack references, focus on building professional relationships. Consider professors, volunteer coordinators, or previous clients who can vouch for your skills and character.

What happens after references are checked?

After reference checks, employers use the gathered insights to finalize their decision. Your potential fit, skills, and work habits are confirmed, helping them choose the right candidate for the job.

How long should a reference know you?

Ideally, references should know you for at least 6 months to a year. This duration allows them to provide meaningful insights into your work abilities and character.


In the job hunt, references are like champions on your team. They vouch for your skills and who you are, making you look good. Checking them is a good sign, but not a guaranteed win. With great references and a strong interview, you’re on your way to the job you want!




Onwukwe Mina Chidiebube is a content marketer, scriptwriter, copywriter, and voiceover artist at Silicon Africa Technologies Limited.

Brought up in the sciences with a fundamental love for the arts, she wields a degree in Chemical Engineering and flexes her writing muscles, as seen in her articles at and

She sees movies, reads, or listens to music when she is not writing.

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