My husband recently had an interview with a company. They obviously liked what they saw as they sent him an offer and a contract containing a start date. He signed the contract and handed in his notice at his current job, in order to meet the start date in the contract. He has been going through the motions with the new company, sorting out a company car and other associated admin tasks. He then had a message (around 1-2 weeks after signing the contract) from an old colleague to say that he had just been asked for a reference from the new company.
We thought references were usually done in the space between the interview and an offer being extended - the company has decided they liked you and want to know a bit more. What benefit do the company get from asking for references after extending an offer, which has been accepted? And what would they do in the case of a bad reference (not going to be an issue for us!), given the new employee has signed the contract already?