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Why haven't my references been called!?
January 27, 2012 11:25 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever been hired for a job where your new employer didn't call your references (for whatever reason)?

I am applying for a new job and I am very certain I aced the interview, they loved me, I loved them, I am highly qualified, etc, but I know for a fact that they have not called my references yet. They are supposed to be making a decision "early next week" and this has me very nervous. I thought I would at least be in the top tier of candidates for the position. I know I am speculating but have you ever been hired for a position where your references just plain weren't called at all? The position I am being hired for is in city government so I would think they would want to know a little about my background but I am not sure. My friend who did hiring for a long time said that he only called references when he was "sketched out" by the job candidate. Anyways, any advice would be appreciated. Thank you!
posted by timpanogos to Work & Money (28 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
At least once that I know about.

I've also hired people without calling their references (not often, but it's happened).

I am speculating, but it's possible that they're interviewing more candidates, and that they won't do stuff like reference checks until this first interview stage is over.
posted by box at 11:29 AM on January 27, 2012


Except in cases where checking references was policy (once and a substantial 7 year background check), none of my other employers called my references (two employers).

Good luck!
posted by ttyn at 11:29 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes, several times. This is definitely common in my experience, but no doubt varies by sector.
posted by Forktine at 11:31 AM on January 27, 2012


Yes, I've gotten at least two jobs requiring references where the references were never called.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:31 AM on January 27, 2012


Yes, I've had several jobs where the hiring / HR person never bothered to call my references. If you did well in the interview and particularly if the references aren't in the same industry as the job (they're just general / personal references), they might just not bother to call them.

I wouldn't see it as a particularly good nor a bad sign.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:32 AM on January 27, 2012


my current job hired me without calling my references.
posted by sabh at 11:32 AM on January 27, 2012


I think it depends on the position and its importance, but I've been hired without my contacts being called. It was the type of job where they could assess a lot about my capabilities without talking to them, though. They might also be waiting to pick their final candidate and then call their references as the final step.

The other thing I have found is that even though they said they are making a decision next week, in actuality they could take much longer than that.
posted by Nightman at 11:33 AM on January 27, 2012


It's possible they won't call the references until the very last minute. In one of the cases where I was a reference for someone, they had a job offer two hours later (maybe my reference was just that good).
posted by tommccabe at 11:33 AM on January 27, 2012


Why would I call your references? What are they going to say, besides what a terrific worker you are? I would call your previous employer to confirm dates of employment, but calling your references is like calling your mom to see if you are a good kid.
posted by AugustWest at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


In my experience, calling references is not as useful as you might think. If the candidate is bad, it's rare that a reference will say that for fear of a lawsuit. Most of the time anymore companies have a policy to only acknowledge the work period, anything beyond that is harder to get. I can think of more than one occasion where someone was given a glowing review by a previous supervisor and they were an absolute disaster who didn't make it through the first three months. I suspect this supervisor was giving this review to get the person off their hands.
posted by Runes at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've had the same experience. Not as interesting as the time the head of the company called my references while I was in his office.
"So I got this guy mikepop here - is he any good?"
posted by mikepop at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was once hired during a phone interview for a government lab intern, it was a non-interview even - the guy said yup, looks right, think you'd be able to handle doing x tasks? Great! Can you start on x date?
He was a busy man, as i discovered. If there's no contest or reason to doubt the candidate, I can see skipping that step since references are picked to sing your praises anyway.
posted by lizbunny at 11:38 AM on January 27, 2012


I just got a job where they didn't ask me to provide references (A software/tech position), and previously where they didn't call them but only ran a (non reference calling) background check during the actual post-offer-acceptance hiring process. Did they ask you specifically to provide references?

They might not call them at all even if they asked for them... Also agreeing that they might not call them until they decide for certain they want you. I don't think you can gauge their opinion with any accuracy based on when/if they call your references. Don't worry :) and good luck!
posted by ghostbikes at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2012


I've gotten some jobs where I was hired so fast, they couldn't possibly have called anyone. I've gotten other jobs where they called everyone they could have possibly thought to call. So, there's a wide variance.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2012


These are great answers- I haven't really thought of that. You hand pick references to sing your praises as lizbunny said-- so they are more of a formality than anything else.

I marked on my application for them NOT to call my current employer until a conditional offer of employment is made so that may be another factor to think about. My current employer doesn't know that I am looking for a job. These are all great answers. Thank you so much for putting my mind at ease (at least for a few days!)
posted by timpanogos at 11:40 AM on January 27, 2012


Most of the time anymore companies have a policy to only acknowledge the work period, anything beyond that is harder to get.

Bingo. People suing companies for "bad" references is not unheard of, and many places are just taking the easy way out and refusing to say anything except length of employment, and possibly official title.
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on January 27, 2012


I think it depends on the industry, to some extent. References were rarely called when I was working retail/food service gigs, but they are always called now that I'm a librarian. Always.
posted by sugarbomb at 11:56 AM on January 27, 2012


More than once for me, too -- I think often just the fact that you can provide the proper number of references in the appropriate format is the hurdle, and they don't bother to call unless something seems odd.

Another thing to keep in mind -- are you know at least by reputation around the industry or were you recommended to the post by someone? Sometime that's reference enough, even if it's an industry that tends to check.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:00 PM on January 27, 2012


Yeah, my current company does not ask for references, and does not call them when provided. Instead, they look at your resume and figure out who they personally know who might have worked with you, and call that person. Not sure if that would happen for a city gov't job, but it certainly does in my (relatively small) industry.
posted by pie ninja at 12:55 PM on January 27, 2012


I am very certain I aced the interview, they loved me, I loved them, I am highly qualified, etc, but I know for a fact that they have not called my references yet. They are supposed to be making a decision "early next week" and this has me very nervous.

A few things:
1) As above, references are often not called/
2) I have never once heard of a company saying "we plan to make a decision by X date" and then sticking to that. In my experience the actual decision is made anywhere from two weeks to a year later.
3) unfortunately it is possible to totally nail an interview and not get the job, either because someone else nailed it too, or because they lost funding and cancelled the position (The latter has happened to me many times; some companies have an unfortunate habit of doing the interviews, finding the right person, and only then asking for the approvals to fund the position)

Anyway, best of luck and don't lose hope!
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:57 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I hired people, I only called references if I wasn't sure about the candidate. Useful information can be gleaned from the tone of the reference.
posted by gjc at 2:13 PM on January 27, 2012


I was once on a search committee where no references were called until we had already made a decision - and then it was just a formality before making the job offer to the person we had chosen.

I was also once interviewed for a job, where I heard through a friend-of-a-friend who was in the know, that I was practically a shoo-in. However, they ended up hiring another candidate and my references were never called. I assume that I was one of the top candidates, but they only called references for the person whom they actually decided to hire.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 2:32 PM on January 27, 2012


My current job didn't ask for references. I guess they figure if you made it through all the various tests and behavioral interviews, they didn't need to check up on you.
posted by bluesapphires at 2:34 PM on January 27, 2012


I run undergraduate programmes for engineers and am frequently called on to provide references for my graduates. I often get emails warning me to expect requests for references from grads who have been offered jobs or told refs will be taken up when they are called for interview. A substantial amount of comapnies don't actually make the requests.
posted by biffa at 2:55 PM on January 27, 2012


I was once on a search committee where no references were called until we had already made a decision - and then it was just a formality before making the job offer to the person we had chosen.

This is my experience. They called one of my references but not the other two, and it was just a formality.
posted by desuetude at 8:36 PM on January 27, 2012


They could already have the internal hire picked out and just had to go through the motions.
posted by codswallop at 10:56 PM on January 27, 2012


I feel it's kind of unprofessional to call references, and as far as I know, no company I've worked for has done it. Of course it varies by sector.

But to my mind, if you distrust me enough to call references... why would you trust those references? And if you distrust me, why are we talking?
posted by -harlequin- at 7:58 AM on January 28, 2012


I've been applying for work since October, had three jobs that I was offered but didn't take for one reason or another, and just started my new job last week. My references were not called for any of the position, though their names and numbers were asked for at every interview.

Good luck!
posted by firei at 5:51 PM on January 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


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