I got interviewed by a company which develops network products. They were looking for a embedded software engineer for their expanding team. I passed phone screening, and I got called for on-site interview. During on-site interview two senior software engineers asked question regarding C programming language. Weird thing is, the questions were too basic, and easy (I also got interviewed with Big Tech companies.) As compare to previous interview questions, these were too easy, and should not be asked for Senior positions.
In the end of the interview process (right before offer stage), head of the department asked for reference from my previous employer(s), and I said I did not have any reference. As a result they did not make an offer regarding this position.
Until this time, I never got asked for any references by the companies I got offer from. When I passed the interview, they made an offer.
This company was relatively small and located in the east coast. Is this related the East Coast work culture? Why did they insist on requesting reference? Why a company did not conduct rigorous interview process, and insist on a reference?