using references at interviews intelligently
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Discover proven ways for using references at interviews

There's an art to using references at interviews. In most cases, the future employer will ask you for names of two or more people who can act as your references. What you do beforehand to meet this situation is what using references at interviews well is all about.

There are several things to keep in mind in using references at interviews. Check out these useful tips for interviews.

Any employer worth his salt is not going to check only with the people whose names you have provided. It's more or less certain that these are people who will provide fairly positive references for you anyway, isn't it?

So they will usually try to dig up additional references on their own. Many good headhunters do this as well. They want to get as close to the truth as possible, about you as a person and about your work. Keep that in mind when using references at interviews.

Therefore, if you have any problems in your background, expect that it will be found out and prepare to counter any such issues in advance.

The first rule is to be very careful in your selection of references. These should be people who have a very positive opinion of you and your work. Then, of course, they should have some standing in the eyes of your potential employer.

It's a good idea to provide the employer with a number of references from different backgrounds, so that there is a chance the employer may not bother to dig up additional references.

A good mix can include your boss, another person a few levels above you in the hierarchy, a colleague, at the same or slightly higher level than you, a customer or vendor who appreciates the quality of your work.

Your references should be people with whom you have some level of contact, on an ongoing basis. If this is not always possible, then at least make sure that you renew your acquaintance before you actually give out their names as references.

It is essential that you seek permission from the people who you plan to use as references. Ask them if they are okay with being your reference.

If they agree, be sure to thank them and also say that you hope to return the favor someday. The last statement will usually prompt them to give at least some consideration to what they say about you.

A major problem in using references at interviews is that the people who are your references may face is that they might not remember all details of their work relationship with you. You need to refresh their memory.

You can say something like 'I was recalling the project we did together on (mention what you did). Is it okay if we review it together?'

Your review with the person should include the outline of the work you did together, the results you obtained, specific problems you came across and how you solved them and your contribution to your group / company.

Don't just make this a monologue from your side, though. Draw them out, asking questions like 'Do you recall anything about that?'

Here's another thing you can do. As part of your preparation for job interviews, prepare succinct statements showcasing your accomplishments, strengths, etc using specific examples for each. Once this is done, sit down with your references and review them.

This is an easy way to get the references aware as to what skills you want to highlight and how they should project you. It gives you an edge over other job hunters in using references at interviews.

Lastly, if you feel that you have a reference who might not give an entirely positive feedback about you, you should have it checked out. Get a trusted friend in another company (not the one you are interviewing with) to call this reference, as if he was doing a reference check on you, and ask for feedback. You will know what he says.

If the feedback is not positive, drop that reference. As a general rule, at any point in time, you should have enough positive references so that you can afford to cut out any negative ones that may come up.

That's important in using references at interviews.

Of course, this does not mean that your potential employer cannot dig out the negative references. That's why you should assume that anything questionable in your background will come up for scrutiny and you need to be prepared to defend yourself.

For more on using references at interviews and related tips for interviews, see the previous link.

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