I've been asked to provide references before even a mention of an interview. There's something that bothers me about this but I can't put my finger on it. I've never been asked for references before getting an interview, its usually done once an interview is successful and they're looking to move forward.

Have you encountered this? What is going on and why don't recruiters realize they're sending up a yellow flag at least...if not a red one?

There is very little in the way of response in their email - just literally "Would you be able to provide me with a couple professional references?"

I presume that means she actually wants them now, but a one liner is just a put off.


BJ_Marshall's picture
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If .. ahem, when .. you get the interview, then you'll be in a better position to determine whether this is a good fit for both of you. For now, follow their rules and get that interview.

Here I thought the cover letter and resume were what got you the interview; I didn't know it was references. I've been on some god-awful interviews and dealt with recruiters whom I thought weren't all that professional, and I ended up not having a very favorable view of the company. Perhaps this is one of those times.


bflynn's picture

My concern on this is that I'm asking references to do me a favor. Even with 10 references, I can't ask references to give me time every time someone wants to think about interviewing me.

I've already talked with one of them and he refused because there was no interview....his thought was that they were fishing for something and now I'm suspicious of the company's motives.


asteriskrntt1's picture

If M&M hold that you don't give away your RESUME to every recruiter you meet, I am guessing you need to be even stingier with your references.

Yes, I can provide you with references if it comes to the point where there is an offer on the table. Why don't we interview first and see how it goes?


bflynn's picture

I think they're trying to validate experiences before they invite me to a remote interview. I would expect they could just pick up the phone and call me, but apparently this isn't their way.

References are doing me a favor. Not that I'm getting 100 interviews a month, but if I'm asking for references and not getting jobs, I'm going to quit getting references.

If you're in HR, you can put me down as very much against this practice. But you probably already knew that.

I've responded that they certainly can get references and I asked for a day to contact my references since I wasn't expecting to call upon them prior to an interview.

Update - response this morning that the references are just to put into my file. Yeah, I'm less and and less comfortable with this company now....



HMac's picture

[quote="bflynn"]I've responded that they certainly can get references and I asked for a day to contact my references since I wasn't expecting to call upon them prior to an interview.[/quote]

Great way to play it, Brian.

And if I understood the original question they asked you, you might have even gotten away with a simple "Yes."


bflynn's picture

I've closed this off: The following email was sent earlier this morning. If the result is that I don't get an interview, then I'm fine with that.




I hope you'll understand this, but I can't release my references' contact information in this manner. It is unfair to their personal confidence for me to release their contact information, even given the strongest privacy policies. If we reach the point of an interview and you would like to speak with them, I can provide the information at that time. But I can't provide it just to be placed in a file.

I hope this doesn't jeopardize a chance of moving forward. It just feels like a violation of their trust to handle their contact information in this Way and I'm not comfortable doing it.

RobRedmond's picture

Ouch. That's certainly one way to handle it.


[*] Just provide the references because it is the first time anyone has done it so the impact to your friends is minimal.
[*] Provide only one reference with more after an interview
[*] Instead of writing back to say no, write back and ask when the interview will be and pretend they did not ask - see what they do
[*] Call the hiring manager and ask what's up. You may find that he is under some inane policy that he too thinks is moronic.

bflynn's picture

It worked out. They didn't really care about it, they're fine waiting.

Some of my references are directors / senior directors and one is CEO of a small company. I'm not putting their contact information into someone else's hands to "go into a file" without a good reason.

If the cost of showing integrity is an interview, I'm fine not interviewing with that company.


US41's picture

They say they are fine waiting. You have yet to find out if they are actually fine with it.

I'm not really concerned with the one interview for you, either. One interview won't be the end of the world. I'm more concerned with how you have turned something that is not a big deal into a blocking issue for you and have shown some inflexibility before you even get in to make a name for yourself. I wouldn't want you to repeat this communication as a pattern.

If I asked someone for references before an interview, I wouldn't be upset with them wanting to wait until the interview was over to provide them. However, I would take the way you communicated it as evidence that you will be a pain to work with later - always turning one person's well-intentioned lack of grace into a personal battle of integrity when really the potential fallout is practically zero.

Others will interpret your behavior differently, but I would pass on interviewing someone who wrote me that note. I'd probably stop asking for references up front on other candidates and take the criticism as feedback. I'd also pass on the candidate who framed something so simple as a major issue of ethics.

bflynn's picture

It bothered me - I probably could have handled it better. I'll do better next time.