One of the final and often fundamental steps in deciding whether you are going to receive an offer from a company is the reference check stage. This is an opportunity for your future employer to ask some vital questions in order to best understand if you are as great as you seem in the interviews.

This is a golden opportunity to shine but also something that should be done with a lot of intention. In our experience as Recruiters, we’ve witnessed people lose offer opportunities due to their references not coming back as strong as anticipated. As you can imagine, that is no fun.

The good news is, there are easy steps to take to make sure your references come back stellar! It is very important to think through WHO your references are and how they can best represent you. A little upfront preparation can help turn a mediocre reference into one that really stands out.


Top Tips for Nailing your Reference Check:


1. On your resume, you should never include references. You can provide references when asked. We suggest this because you never want your references to be called out of the blue without any preparation or form of context.

2. Think through who you plan to list as a reference. Who in your professional experience knows you as a worker, knows your strengths, knows what your potential is and what your value add is. References should not be every person you’ve worked with but instead key people that actually can give a future employer an idea of who you are as a worker. References should be well thought out and intentional.

3. When providing references, it’s always best to provide at least two previous Managers or Supervisors. One to two colleagues are encouraged in addition to previous Managers. If you are a recent grad with limited professional experience, you can provide teachers or internship supervisors.  

4. Anticipate the types of questions your future employer might ask. Do some research on standard reference check questions and provide this to your references. If working with a Recruiter - ask them if they know what sort of things your future employer is trying to learn about you. Try to be as informed as possible.

5. Make sure to call your references ahead of time to ask if they are OK providing a reference on your behalf and if they have the availability to do so. Share some insight with your references on the role you're interviewing for, what the position entails, who will be calling them and information you are hoping they can highlight about your background. Set them up for success.

6. When providing references, they should be given in an organized format, so that it’s easy to understand whom your future employer is calling, how they are related to you and how to best contact them. Here is example of a proper format:

First, Last Name


Current Company

Email & Phone Number

Relation to you

7.  Ask your references to let you know when they’ve been contacted. Make sure to thank them big time! They can help seal the deal for your future dream job!


Good luck in the interview process! For other helpful interview tips, check out our resources page at:

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