Reference check seems to be taking a bit longer than usual--next step?
February 15, 2017 1:52 AM   Subscribe

I have been in the application process for a job I'm really excited about. I was extended a contingent offer last week pending a reference check. On Thursday, three of my four references were contacted. I haven't had any contact with the potential employer since. Probably because I'm so excited about this position, not hearing anything is making me antsy.

My remaining reference told me he would let me know when he was contacted, but I haven't heard anything yet.

My question:

If days go by and I still haven't received any contact or a firm offer, who is the better person to contact--my remaining reference to ask if he's been contacted, or my hiring contact at potential employer? I don't want to nag anyone unnecessarily, but I do want to be proactive and make sure I'm on top of the process.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total)
Depending on how many different places you have lived, background checks can take weeks. For my most recent (state government) job it took almost a month.

I think for something like this it never hurts to get in touch with your hiring contact at the new job, just to make sure they aren't waiting on some pertinent information that you could help provide, and to let them know that you are still excited about the position, but don't worry about it too much.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:47 AM on February 15, 2017

Give it at least a week before you get in even casual contact. Offer packages can take time to assemble. And if you talk to them now, you can't call them back three days after that.
posted by mskyle at 5:12 AM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I was hired at my (wonderful!) job, the background check and offer letter took quite a while longer than I expected and I was super nervous. I would be nervous in your shoes too, but there are a lot of likely explanations:

1. The point person for reference checks is sick or on vacation and hasn't handed the responsibility off.
2. There is some kind of system error at their place and they can't proceed.
3. The reference check service they use is experiencing some kind of delay or glitch, or is just slow on the face of it.
4. They are only contacting three of your references because they only require three, don't want to spend more time on it and your references are fine, but the offer letter is hung up in HR
5. Some other thing, but the offer is hung up in HR.

I'm betting on HR - it literally took several weeks for me to get my offer letter, not because they were doing anything wrong but because they were a little short-staffed and there were a lot of people who needed to review the letter and sign off.
posted by Frowner at 5:15 AM on February 15, 2017

Also, do you expect there to be a problem with your references or your background check? I was all freaking out about how I had maybe forgotten to pay a traffic ticket in a city where I was staying for a month back in 2002 and what if I had a bench warrant, etc etc. (It was fine.) If you don't have reason to worry about the background check or your references, really try not to get anxious.
posted by Frowner at 5:17 AM on February 15, 2017

I'm also betting on HR being the bottleneck here.

While the HR department at my current job is generally great, the guy I was going through during the interview process left a lot to be desired. He went radio silent for a full week at a key point in the process -- after I had given him some time sensitive info THAT HE HAD ASKED FOR -- only to pop up again with, "Oh hey! Sorry about that, I went on a week-long retreat with my team!"

All that to say: people are flaky. You've probably got a flake holding things up somewhere.
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 7:32 AM on February 15, 2017

One week is a customary time to wait. Next time you interview, at the "any questions" section, ask what their schedule is for reaching back to you, and how long they'd like you to wait before circling back to them to keep things moving. Asking this shows you're interested, and eliminates any of the "did they forget about me? is it too soon to call" bs that can sabotage even the strongest interviews.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:47 AM on February 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I was hired for an in-house job at a financial services firm and the background checks and referencing took upwards of a month to fully work their way through the system. If the checks are being done by a third party firm or a busy HR department, you are likely one of many pieces of work going through their systems.

I advise chill.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:55 AM on February 15, 2017

I'm a hiring manager, or rather, have a couple of hiring managers working for me. With turnover, we are constantly trying to fill some position, and while it is always important, it is seldom urgent. Offers get delayed for a million trivial reasons. I would give it some time.
posted by kovacs at 6:29 PM on February 15, 2017

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