You’ve completed your interview… and can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
It is now time for the interview panel to go to work. They will review their notes from the interview, your work experience, and any testing you’ve completed. References will be checked.
It may seem like this part of your interview process is completely out of your hands, right? Not entirely.
You’ve been carefully cultivating a strong reputation with colleagues and co-workers over the course of your career. Some of them will now serve as a references for you, and may be the determining factor in whether you get hired, or not.
Here are a few things you can do, even after the interview is over, to make sure the reference process runs smoothly:
Make Sure They’re Available to Provide a Reference
And ensure they can do so in a timely fashion. Recruiters will ask you if they have permission to contact your references. It would be prudent to contact those people and let them know to expect a call. It gives them time to prepare, and makes the process run smoothly, because they will have dug out your personnel file and can speak to some of the work you did with them.
Choose Someone Who Has Supervised Your Work
As a recruiter, I hate when people provide references and they’ve opted to provide a name of a friend or relative who has never worked with them before or has only worked with them as a coworker. Regardless of what these people say about you, it won’t impress anyone.
Make Sure Your Reference Will Provide a Good Reference
This one is tricky as many managers try to avoid giving you negative feedback because it makes them uncomfortable. But they’re perfectly comfortable telling a stranger what’s wrong with you. Make sure you know that this person was happy with your work and is excited about telling someone about it.
Make Sure Your Reference Is Good at Providing References
They might think you’re the bee’s knees but can they articulate it? I’ve done many interviews with former supervisors and managers who tell me they are satisfied with the candidate’s work, but trying to get specific information about the candidate’s skills is like pulling teeth.
You didn’t get to choose your previous supervisors, but put some thought into which ones you choose give to a potential employer.
What you’re really looking for when you choose your references is someone who gave you honest feedback while you worked for them, and who saw you improve and can enthusiastically sell your skills. Obviously a terrible, or even a non-passionate, uncommitted reference might ruin your chances of getting hired.
Don’t undo all the work you put into your job search. Choose your references wisely!
About the Author: Scott Keenan is a recruiter for @PriorityCareers, with several years’ experience recruiting in both the public and private sectors in addition to marketing and social media roles. As a self-described professional cynic, he provides unique insight into modern recruiting from both the recruiter and candidate’s perspective. You can follow Scott on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn or check out his posts on The Priority Blog.