Executives Report Checking Candidate References

August 18, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - With senior managers typically speaking with at least three references before considering someone for a position, having some kind words on one's behalf can mean the difference between a new job or a new job search.

The vast majority of executives (62%) cited three as the number of references checked when asked “When conducting a reference check, on average, how many references do you call?” according to an Accountemps survey. In distant second was the 18% that called two, followed by:

  • 8% – more than three
  • 5% – don’t know
  • 4% – none
  • 3% – one.

“Job seekers often overlook an essential step in the interview process – managing references,” Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, in a statement. “To avoid hiring mistakes, companies want to learn as much as possible about applicants before extending an offer. Candidates can increase their chances of being hired by providing the names of people who will offer an accurate account of their skills and experience.”

To gain the most out of references, Accountemps offers the following tips for candidates on preparing references:

  • Stack the deck – develop a list of three to five references and describe the connection to you and the type of information each can provide.
  • Get permission – only use a person’s name with their consent.
  • Choose wisely – determine which references are most relevant for the position.
  • Providing references with a copy of the job description and your resume may help them to put their responses into context.
  • Refresh their memories – discuss examples of the accomplishments you made while you both worked together.
  • Keep them in the loop – let the reference know to expect a call when you refer them.