If you’ve interviewed well and all parties agree that you’re a good fit for the position, the inevitable reference check is one of the final steps between you and a job offer. And if you can make that experience as easy as possible for your references, they’re apt to speak highly of you the next time you need them too.
First, check in with your preferred contacts to make sure that they are cool with being a reference. If there’s a delay in the affirmative, you may want to consider your other options. Also, it’s just polite — no one wants to get hit with that call out of the blue. And you can also confirm that your references will be in town and reachable by their preferred contact method in the window of time you expect they will be called.
Secondly, once you are certain a reference check will happen, ask the HR rep if you can have a day delay to give your references a heads up; it gets you head of any potential problems. Maybe Bob from two jobs ago has a last minute work trip or family emergency come up and will be out of touch for a few days. You can give HR a heads up and offer an alternative reference if needed.
It also gives you time to prepare your references. You get a sense pretty quickly in an interview as to what qualities and skill sets are needed for the role, regardless of the actual job description. Provide a few bullet points as to what traits about yourself it’s key for the reference to drive home, along with a copy of the job description. Some references appreciate a few related anecdotes to draw from when telling HR how fabulous you are.
Finally, don’t forget to say thank you. Let them know the outcome of the interviewing whether you get the position or not. If they’re backing you as a reference they’re invested in your potential and the outcome.