I have been invited to an interview and they say they are contacting my previous and current employer already. It's slightly strange to want this before.

It did say on the application form "please write down two references we can contact now. One must be your current employer" I thought oh well surely the won't ask my current employer they just mean my previous.

Apart from being obvious and common sense .. a bad idea to write to a current employer that you're thinking of leaving and potentially of putting to join this company, did I indirectly give permission?

  • 3
    What industry are you in? In many professions, you would never tell your current employer that you're looking, but some are okay with employees being open about it.
    – user34587
    Dec 7, 2018 at 16:09
  • I'm in eudcation but IT so I guess within schools and universities they are really open but only on the acamedic side not professional services. If I don't get the job my boss now knows I'm looking. Dec 7, 2018 at 16:16

3 Answers 3


Tell them you will only provide references after an on-site interview, you don't have to wait for a job offer, but don't give it out before a live interview, there's no reason to give it out any sooner.

Chances are they will refuse and spout something about their policy, at that point move on.


This is actually pretty common. Most employers I have dealt with always do this. Why waste time in an interview only to find out the reference check fails.

By giving reference you told them (indirectly) "Please contact these people who will vouch that I am a good employee and do good work", so yes you in a sense gave them permission to contact the references.

As someone who has done reference checks, I would only ask for them if I planned on using them.

  • In 18 years and two countries, in engineering and software, I've never come across this. It is usually the final step.
    – HorusKol
    Dec 7, 2018 at 22:18

I'm going to assume you're not in the US, because in the US, references are given when there's serious interest...except when it comes to staffing companies. They're largely butts in seats kind of deals, so they'll misuse your references and pump them for contacts and other candidates... and then you'll lose references.

But yeah, in the US, if a prospective employer demanded my current employer as a reference, I'd probably laugh in their faces and move on.

  • Not just the US - at least the UK and Australia, too.
    – HorusKol
    Dec 7, 2018 at 22:15

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