Your CV will get you an interview….. Your references will seal the deal

In today’s competitive market, prospective employers faced with the challenge of hiring qualified employees will routinely check job references and interview past employers. Checking your references is the only real means they have of verifying the skills and experience you presented in your CV and interview.

When you submit your CV, make sure the background, skills, education level and all other aspects of this document are a true reflection of you and your capabilities. Employers check backgrounds with eagle eyes and they do not look kindly on candidates who give false information. Embellishing your CV shows a lack of integrity. If any inaccuracy is discovered on your CV, you will simply be removed from the candidate list. If the deception is discovered after you have been hired, your services will be terminated. Either way, you lose.

On the average, employers check two to three references per candidate. It is essential that you select the right people as references and that you speak with them in advance about using them as references. The people you list should be able to attest to your performance and your responsibilities, so keep your references as current as possible. People to include as references: Previous employers, lecturers, school teachers or business acquaintances. If you do volunteer work, consider using the leaders or other members of those organisations as references. Never include your family or friends.

Sample Reference Check Questions:

  • What is your relationship with the candidate?
  • How long have you known this person?
  • When did this person work for your company? Could you confirm the starting and ending employment dates?
  • Why did he/she leave the company?
  • What was his/her starting and ending salary?
  • What was his/her position? Can you describe the job responsibilities?
  • Did this person take a lot of time off work? Was he/she frequently late?
  • Did he/she get along well with management and co-workers?
  • How did he/she handle conflict/pressure/stress?
  • How would you describe his/her management style?
  • Would you rehire him/her if the opportunity arose?
  • If I describe to you the position for which we are hiring, would you describe how good a fit you think he/she would be for the position?
  • Can you describe this person’s experience working as a member of a team?
  • Is there anything I have not asked that you would like to share with me?


Article prepared by the Careers Office

Uploaded: 4 November 2015

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