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Checking References: Employer Protocol or Only When They Are Interested?

by Wendy Lau, studioD

Many steps are taken to help the employer ensure you are the best fit for the job, including reference checking. Calling your references is typically the last step before a job offer is extended. At this point, the hiring manager has narrowed it down to a few candidates and checking references helps determine who gets the offer. Some employers check references before the interview process to eliminate candidates, but this is less common, reports "Forbes." Employers typically ask references for certain information to make their final decisions.

Job Duties

One of the reasons references are checked is to help an employer verify the job duties you indicated on your resume and during the interview. For instance, if you indicate your most recent position was a marketing manager and you said you led a team of five staff members to market the company's top-selling clothing line, an employer needs to verify you held this title, that you were in a position of leadership, and that you did what you said you did, and not something else.


Checking on experience is about finding out what type of employee you are. For instance, an employer may ask your references questions related to your work ethic and attitude. These questions can provide insight into whether you are someone who works well with others or if you are always in conflict with people, and if you are responsible, such as arriving to work on time and completing your tasks.

Strengths and Weaknesses

An employer asking a reference about your strengths and weaknesses can help shed light on the types of accomplishments you may have achieved with your previous employer and how you handled setbacks. It gives a hiring manager insight that may directly affect his decision to offer you a job. If you are applying for a job that requires leadership skills and your reference indicates that one of your strengths is your ability to lead and manage, it further supports your standing as one of the best candidates for the job.

Dates of Employment

Your employment dates are a critical point of review for a hiring manager. These dates are verified with your previous employers to affirm that your years of experience meet the job requirements. Lying about a period of employment can take you out of the running for a job. Checking on employment dates can also shed light on whether you're a job hopper. Hiring managers want to know if you're a candidate willing to stick it out for the long term. Holding a series of jobs for short periods of time can raise a red flag to hiring managers.

About the Author

Wendy Lau entered the communication field in 2001. She works as a freelance writer and prior to that was a PR executive responsible for health care clients' written materials. Her writing experience include technical articles, corporate materials, online articles, blogs, byline articles, travel itineraries and business profile listings. She holds a Bachelor of Science in corporate communications from Ithaca College.

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