Interviews: How to Answer the Job References Question

Your job references are important to your job search success.  They’re the last step in the interview process, and you have to take just as much care with them as you do with anything else–like your resume, your interview skills, your brag book, or your 30/60/90-day plan.  A great reference could easily be what convinces a hiring manager who’s on the fence about you to go ahead and hire you.  And a bad one can knock you out of the running faster than you can blink.  Recommendations carry a lot of weight.

When you are asked in a job interview about your references, don’t lead off your answer with a list of names. Get to the meat of what the hiring manager or recruiter wants to know by talking about what kind of references you have:  titles, positions, and so on.   Which references are the best ones?  Former managers are always at the top of the list of desirable references for any job seeker. If your last job situation was less-than-ideal, you might have to get a little more creative to get a good reference.  For instance, you could ask a high-level client, a colleague, or a manager you didn’t directly work for but who knows your work.

But it’s not just job titles that come into play when choosing a reference that will make you look good.  You have to choose someone you know thinks a lot of you, someone who knows about the job you’re going for so that they can speak to your strengths, and someone who can express himself or herself well.

If you’ve got a lineup of good references, you need to know some job-reference etiquette:  (1)  Keep your references updated with regular e-mails about your career and pass on things that might be helpful to them, just like you do with the rest of your network;   (2)  give them a heads-up when they are about to be called for a reference, and use that time to tell them about the job and what skills they might focus on; and (3) be sure to thank them for helping you out.

Posted via web from AndyWergedal