After two coding projects and having an Skype interview with a startup's team, now I have been asked to give 3 references from my previous employments.

In most of the recruiting processes, is this just another piece of the puzzle or usually when you are asked for that it means they are already willing to contract you (unless the feedback from your former employers is particularly bad)?

  • 1
    "unless the feedback from your former employers is particularly bad" - you should only be providing references from people who will show you in a good light. It doesn't have to be a former employer - it could be anyone who worked at the previous company. – HorusKol May 1 '17 at 5:01
  • @HorusKol - a nice idea, but most who want an actual reference (rather than employment verification) want to speak to your direct manager, so for many that's a worry. – The Wandering Dev Manager May 1 '17 at 14:56

In most of the recruiting processes, is this just another piece of the puzzle or usually when you are asked for that it means they are already willing to contract you

Typically it means that the company is at least moving to the next step. If you weren't still in the running for the position, most companies wouldn't bother asking.

For some companies, they will actually start checking your references, so you may wish to contact them yourself and give them a heads up. For other companies they will contact your references later.

This is certainly a good sign. But you don't know how good until you either do or don't get an offer.


Simply asking for references could just be a matter of course through the interview process. Whenever I interview, I ask near the end of the interview whether it would be okay to contact their referees. That way, I don't have to waste time chasing candidate references after the interviews and giving a false impression that you've been selected.

I typically only actually contact referees after selecting a preferred candidate. If the references for the candidate fail to provide enough backing to hire the candidate, then I'll strike the candidate from consideration and go straight to the next candidate's referees.

  • you mean if something doesn't add up from the number 1 referee "tail"? – A. Frenzy May 1 '17 at 5:31

Different companies have different processes. The one that you applied for seems to have some process in place (coding, Skype).

The references probably mean that you got positive feedback from the three rounds so far. Which means if you are interested in the job, you should put in effort into getting the right references, and getting the references right.

Do keep in mind that just because you have progressed to the next stage, you will not necessarily make it through. There could be various reasons for you to get on hold - they get an awesome candidate, or just want to see if an awesome candidate comes along.

Sometimes hiring is also preemptive. They might have people in the pipeline, but only make offers as they need them. Or a change in business conditions, or funding might result in a delay or cancellation of the offer.

The conclusion is - you made the next step. Send the references and wait (or follow-up after a decent interval).


It's pretty routine, and generally a good sign. I will say that you should have your references lined up well in advance of being asked to provide them. You should ask someone you want to use as a reference well before using them. When a potential employer asks for references, you should also let you references know that they might be getting a call from XYZ company about you so they aren't caught off guard.


If you're asked for this AFTER an interview and the situation is with a company that's going to hire you directly without a recruiter, then it's a good sign.

If you're asked this BEFORE an interview by a technical staffing firm, it's a red flag. They're looking for managers' names to contact to try and get new business, regardless of whether you get hired or not.

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