I have a job offer and they want to check a reference which I don't want to give. Should I refuse to give it? I told them at the beginning that I could though. How would someone typically handle a situation like this?
You're in a tough spot that I don't know how you can get yourself out of. You broke the cardinal rule of job hunting. You lied. It's one thing to lead someone to draw conclusions that aren't entirely accurate. It's one thing to accentuate the positive while minimizing the negative. But that's not what you did. You told them that you could do something when you actually can't or rather had no real intention of doing. You basically gambled and lost.
So the real question is "How do I get myself out of this mess?" and I really don't know that you can. If you want the job, you have to give them what you told them you would. To not do so raises not red flags, but flaming signal towers.
Pretty much all you can do (that I can see) is contact this reference you don't want to give and see if there's any way you can get them to give you a good reference, or at least find out what kind of reference they would actually give.
Now, if you don't want to give the reference because it simply doesn't exist or because you told the company something about the reference something that simply isn't true, I don't see you having a way out.
We can help you with answers here, but unfortunately, sometimes the answers aren't the ones you would want, I'm sorry.
I have an offer in Switzerland and they want to check a reference which I don't want to give. Should I refuse to give it?
If you really don't want to authorize the reference check, then don't. It will likely be at the expense of the job.
I told them at the beginning that I could though.
That's odd. You told them you could but now you won't. Something must have caused you to change your mind. Hopefully that was important.
How would someone typically handle a situation like this?
I typically know beforehand if I will authorize a background check or not.
I don't know if it is typical with others, but I can't imagine a scenario where I would change my mind in the middle of the interview process.