4 Deadly Reference Mistakes that are Costing You Job Offers

By Kinexus on 16 August 2016

4 Deadly Reference Mistakes That Are Costing You Job Offers

You’ve made it through the initial screen, the interview with HR, the interview with the line manager and aced the psych testing – on to the next hurdle, references.

Surely, this is the easiest step in the process – you provide the contact details for people you’ve worked with, they say nice things and you get the job, right?

Not true. All too often these deadly reference mistakes at best can cost you time before you get that wanted job offer and at worst, may cost you the job opportunity completely.


1. Not calling a Referee before giving their contact details

You should always call your referee before handing out their contact details. This will give you a chance to check if they’ll be around to take the call and prep them on the role you’re going for so they can be prepared to answer with relevant information.

Referees who are unavailable due to leave, conferences, travel or changed contact details, will not help you in getting through the final phase before the job offer.


2. Providing personal rather than professional referees

Unless you haven’t worked before you should always provide professional references – people you have worked for or with in a work environment. Whilst personal references can confirm who you are, they can’t comment on your skills and ability to do the job that you are applying for – which is the primary focus of a job reference.


3. Providing colleagues rather than your manager as a referee

Choosing the right referee is a critical aspect of scoring your new role. Ideally, your referees should be previous managers, people you have worked with in the last three years, directly reported to and can provide details about the work you did while working for them.

Colleagues are rarely accepted as a referee as they are not able to provide the same level of insight and verification that a manager can. Sometimes it can be tricky to provide a manager as a referee especially if you’re still working for them. If you have any concerns with providing a manager as a referee, we recommend discussing why with the person who has asked for the referee.


4. Providing a referee without knowing what kind of reference they’ll give

You’d be surprised at how often referees are unable to provide comment due to company policy or give a less than glowing reference. I’ve called a referee before, and they were barely even able to recall the job the person had done!

Discuss what will be required of the referee and any concerns they may have in acting as a referee for you. You need to know what kind of reference they’ll give you.


References aren’t simply a tick in an HR box; they are an important step in the quality process to verify information. By avoiding these reference mistakes you’ll make sure you’ve done everything you can to make it through this final stage to hopefully get that job offer.

Photo byAlexander Andrews on Unsplash

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