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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?

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Why did they insist on requesting reference?

Some companies don't want to make an offer without first checking references. That's they way I have always done it. I never want to waste time negotiating or going through the offer process unless I'm sure I want to hire the applicant. I can't know I want to hire them until after I talk with references.

Other companies will make an offer first and then check references. Some assume that references will always check out. IMHO, that's a mistake - I had a case where a reference check made me change my mind about a candidate. Doing things in this order could lead to withdrawing an offer and could cause hard feelings all around.

A few don't bother to check references at all. To me, that makes no sense.

Is this related the East Coast work culture?

Not that I've ever heard.

Why a company did not conduct rigorous interview process, and insist on a reference?

No idea. Maybe they aren't good at interviewing.

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    I've always found that the reference check is the last step before making an offer, which makes sense. After all, the references come from the applicant. It's going to be very unusual that they don't check out, so companies don't like to waste time checking the references until they are pretty sure about the applicant. – DaveG Jul 9 '18 at 13:41

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