I got a reference on my first job. Now I was asked to go to an interview. Should I take a copy of the reference of the first place to the interview even though the interviewer did not ask for it?

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    – Jane S
    Apr 5, 2017 at 1:00

3 Answers 3


It can't hurt to bring it a copy of your references or their contact information. Somebody might ask for it, and instead of saying I will get back to you, you will be able to give it to them right away. I have also run into the situation where they want me to fill out a "application" before I leave, even though they have my resume, and I have completed forms online. Having the copy of the reference makes it easy to fill in that section of the application.

I always bring extra copies of my resume. You never know when somebody might not have one, or when the system they use for interviews produces a unusable one.

I also bring questions I want to ask, and notebook and pen to make notes.

  • 4
    Indeed! Showing you prepared always makes a good impression.
    – Konerak
    Apr 4, 2017 at 12:08
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    Bring everything, that way you won't be missing anything. Better safe than sorry! Apr 4, 2017 at 13:20
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    +1, I often bring extra copies of all sorts of documents. Worst case, they sit unused in my portfolio binder I bring.
    – enderland
    Apr 4, 2017 at 14:08
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    A written reference (especially one which the applicant has seen and presumably read) is fairly worthless in any case, since it's unlikely to say anything bad - and in the worst case, it might even be a forgery. A phone call to somebody who offered to give the reference is usually more informative. By all means bring a written copy of the referees' contact details, though.
    – alephzero
    Apr 4, 2017 at 16:27
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    @alephzero: You are going to provide a reference that is not going to give you a good reference? When somebody asks me for a reference I will always send them a copy of what I sent to the company. In this day and I age I don't think they are worth much apart from cross referencing what the candidate says. In which case any normal candidate has already talked to their references and made sure that everything is good. Apr 4, 2017 at 19:24

While mhoran_psprep is correct in saying that it can't hurt to bring this information and it may show that you've come prepared, I'd be very hesitant to provide information on my references at what seems to be the very first step of the hiring process. You typically do your references the courtesy of informing them that someone from Company X may be calling them because you're applying for position Y. You're talking about people's communication details after all and you don't want to give those out too readily, even if there's usually no reason to think someone might abuse the information.

A lot of employers ask for reference detail up front to streamline their process and because it doesn't cost them any extra effort. Because of that it's equally common to dodge that question or fill in "available on request" if there's an online submission form you need to get through. Don't ever add this to an application otherwise though, it's understood that you'll provide references if asked for them.

So since you shouldn't be providing references at such an early stage of the process, I probably wouldn't bring this info on paper. It makes sense to keep a digital file of your references though and you can always bring that just in case you're asked for them and you feel like it might be useful to make an exception. I'd never volunteer this info myself: a prospective employer will ask you for your references when they're ready for them and it makes sense to let them control the timing of that part of the hiring process.

  • It can depend on who you are interviewing with. For example, contracting companies can sometimes use references for recruiting and will sometimes call a reference and offer them the job you just interviewed for. As well you are right that you should inform a reference to expect a call. Most employers will highly respect holding references until you contact them. Do this quickly and e-mail or fax the references ASAP when asked for. As well with so many interviews, it can be like prostituting your references so control is often a good way to ensure they remain references. Cheers!!
    – closetnoc
    Apr 4, 2017 at 17:07
  • Fair points here. Apr 5, 2017 at 14:25

Think about these four questions to come to a logical conclusion. This doesn't work in all situations, but in this particular situation, I believe it will.

What is the worst case scenario if I do bring it?

What, the potential employer complains about you cluttering his desk? Seriously, there is absolutely no harm in bringing it. The worst that can happen is that the potential employer say, "Oh, I already saw that, you can keep it."

What is the worst case scenario if I don't bring it?

Obviously, the employer could ask for it, and you will look unprepared if you don't have it with you.

What is the best case scenario if I do bring it?

Best case is if the potential employer wanted it, and you have it. It gives the impression of being well prepared, as well as giving you a head start on the possibility of a job.

What is the best case scenario if I don't bring it?

Well... nothing, really. There's absolutely no advantage to not bringing your references with you.

Just those four questions I believe answer your question. Yes, bring your references: it doesn't harm, and it could help.

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