What Does a Reference Check After the Interview Mean?


Many people ask what it means if an employer does a reference check after-interview for job-seekers, and the simple answer is that they are interested in you. However, it does not necessarily mean anything more than that, so don't start to get your hopes up too much, too soon.

In some cases, competition within your particular industry, or chosen profession may be very fierce, and you may go from one job interview to the next without any success at all.

To learn that an employer is taking up references for you is a good sign and, if your references are good, this could very well result in you receiving an offer of employment. But a look behind the scenes will show you why you should not get too excited.

Here are some things to think about:

  1. There are several strong candidates.
    If the employer has received a large number of applications for a particular position, then the list of candidates invited for an interview can be quite long. Where this is the case, it is not uncommon for an employer to be faced with several strong candidates and decide to do a reference check after the interview to simply narrow the field before drawing up a list of candidates to go forward with a second interview.
  2. Your references might not be good enough.
    You may well be under the impression that the people who are going to provide a reference for you are going to paint you in the best possible light. This may not be the case. Many employers, in particular, will say good things about you, but they will also often balance this by making a note, even if it is only in passing, of your weaknesses. 

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  3. Your references might leave some questions unanswered.
    A prospective employer may well be impressed by your performance during an interview, but still have some doubts about your suitability for the position. Taking up references may be one way in which the employer is seeking to find the answers to the questions they have. However, if your references do not provide the answers that the employer needs, they are likely to continue looking at other candidates.
  4. Your references might not be the deciding factor.
    For many employers taking up references is simply part of the employment process and, even if you receive glowing references, they may pay little or no attention to them. They will base their decision on any number of other factors, and your references are simply there as part of the hiring process.

It's very easy to assume that if you have made it through the initial job interview and your prospective employer is taking up references that you probably got the job. Unfortunately, many people think this way and, as a result, a lot of people are disappointed.

The fact that an employer does a reference check after an interview is certainly a good sign, but don't rush out and buy the Champagne just yet.

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About The Author

Yves Lermusi (aka Lermusiaux) is CEO & co-founder of Checkster. Mr. Lermusi is a well known public speaker and a Career and Talent industry commentator. He is often quoted in the leading business media worldwide, including Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Business Week, and Time Magazine. His articles and commentary are published regularly in online publications and business magazines. Mr. Lermusi was named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the Recruiting Industry” and his blog has been recognized as the best third party blog.