What Does It Mean If a Job You Interviewed for Is Checking Your References?

Does it mean you got the job? Not necessarily.

Does it mean you are the only one they are considering? No. Although you might be.

Does it mean they are close to making an offer? Maybe.

So what exactly does it mean?

First let me explain where I got the idea for this post. I was checking my stats (don’t we all) and saw that someone got to my blog using a search engine and the words “What does it mean if a job is checking your references”. Basically, all you can know for sure is that it means they are interested in you.

Usually, when a company starts checking your references, if the references are good, you will get an offer. But there are times when they have more than one candidate and are using the references to decide…and you might not be their final choice. Or they may not like what they hear from the references. Or they may not get enough information to resolve any doubts they have and decide to continue advertising and/or interviewing without turning you down yet. Or they may even get glowing reviews and still wind up going with someone else for any of countless reasons.

But in general…if they are checking your references and your references are good, it probably means you will be getting an offer soon.

If you are in this situation whoever you are out there my fine Googler friend, I hope this answers your question. And I hope you get the job.

Good luck!

~ Ronnie Ann


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.


  1. Kgaugelo says:

    I was working for this company where I worked for commission as u know some days might be bad and u don’t get customers.to top it all I spend two months without getting paid because of my managers delays.so it meant that I did not go to work on some days. Finally he fired me because I did not Always go to work.I put my manager as a references do you think that he will have an effect as a work reference cause I went to this interview that I passed but they are still waiting to call references

    • chandlee says:


      I would not recommend putting anyone down as a reference if you do not know that they will vouch for you. If you did not show up at work on time when expected, that is likely not to impress potential employers. If you have other colleagues or past co-workers who feel that they can confidently recommend you, I would encourage you to do that.

      I’d also recommend that you pay attention to your spelling and grammar when you write. Using abbreviations like “u” for “you” is considered improper in many workplaces.

      Good luck with your search.


  2. what does it mean if a job say they will cll me with in the earlist of next week if you have already did a phone interview but they havent call yet should i call them

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Keyshia,

      You can call them or send them an e-mail and let them know you remain interested in the job. In the meantime, I recommend you keep applying for new opportunities as well — it’s always good to have as many opportunities as possible.

      All the Best,

  3. I had an interview about one and a half weeks ago. At the interview they told me they wanted to check my references which I provided them and they would give me a call within two weeks. So far none of my references have received calls from them. I am starting to wonder if they will even check them. If they say they will but they don’t does that mean I’m not a potential candidate anymore?

    • chandlee says:


      Call, state your continued interest in the job, and let them know you are happy to help if they have further questions.

      Good luck and all the best,

  4. I had posted back on 7/16 about an interview that I had back in December 2011 then, the company had contacted me again in June. Well, I had emailed them asking basically had they made a decision, etc. Now, they have decided to make the position a part time temporary position with the possibility of it going full time down the road. Should I give up? At this point, I feel like I’ve gotten the complete run around.

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Nina,

      So sorry, has the company offered you the part-time temporary position — if not, perhaps best to cut your losses and move on? If nothing else, I recommend you keep applying to other organizations as you wait to hear back. Life’s too short.

      All the Best,

  5. Good Morning~
    I applied to a job for a University, and got a call 2 days later asking if I was interested in the position, and would I like to come in for an interview. During that phone call she was very adamant that I send her my references prior to the interview. I did so. ( I really need/want this job) Anyway, I went to the interview Monday morning, and the interview went great. She said she was interviewing other cadidates, and would call me back if I was chosen. How long should I wait to contact her? She’s spoken to my references, and received positive feedback. I get REALLY nervous during this waiting process.

    • Hi Lisa,

      Send a thank you note — now if not already. And give it at least two weeks to wait for a second follow-up. That’s really all you can do. In the interim, I recommend you continue to apply for other jobs if you can.


      • Thank you for responding. I sent a thank you email following my interview (no response).
        I’ll keep applying for other jobs in the meantime. I hate the ‘waiting game’. Wish me luck and thanks again!

        • Hi Lisa,

          Next time I recommend a live phone call instead of an email. It’s harder to blow off a human voice than it is a message in the in-box.

          Hang in there, good luck and keep us posted.

          All the Best,

          • Chandlee~

            I GOT THE JOB!! I just got offered the position! Thanks so much for your advice. This site is great! You guys keep up the good work!


  6. I have a potential employer wanting to start me in september however she says she still needs to check my references and that the reference she is most wanting is that of a previous manager which left 3 months ago. I’ve already asked around to all my coworkers but no one remembers where that manager moved to so I have been unable to provide her with that reference. If she is still expecting me to start in september I need to give my two weeks notice by the end of this week. I do not want to give my two weeks notice without knowing for sure I’ve got this job. I called my potential employer 6 days ago to let her know I was unable to get the contact information for the previous manager. To be honest I only worked with that manager for four months so I also provided her with the contact information of the other managers I’ve worked with over the last two years however I haven’t heard from her. I gave her another call today asking how soon she still wants to start me. Is it possible she may be rethinking hiring me because I can’t give her the reference she’s wanting? What else should I do?

    • Hi Ann,

      See if you can have a past manager reach out to her directly and offer to provide her with information regarding a reference.

      All the Best,

  7. I went for an interview on July 13th and emailed them on July 25th to follow up on the status. They said they are still interviewing applicants for the rest of the week and will then make a decision about who they would like to follow up with references. On Aug 13th I got an email asking if it was okay if they checked references, of course I said yes! My current employer said she got an email/phone call and has been trying to contact her all week. It is going on 2 weeks without my current manager getting in contact with her. So i called her and her voicemail said she will be away until Sept 5th. I’m getting a lot of pressure from my current employer as to whether or not im going to be leaving. I havent received a job offer as i’m still waiting for the HR rep to return. Do my chances sound good of getting the job?

  8. I have been interviewed on the 6th of august and have been foolwing up a week after another, so the agency i am under said the feedback is very positive ..i went two times for the interview,last week i got a call from the agency sayingthat i got an offer and this morning the agency called me asking my ID copy…this is so confusing, looks like we going back were we started.Does this mean they will still be intrested in me?

  9. I went for an interview for a Government post in August the 24th my references were checked i.e my immediate Boss but up to now I havent received any form of communication from that Department. I ha mailed a thank you note but up to now nothing, this is frustrating cause you don’t know if you were unsuccessful.

    Thank you

    • Hermina,

      I recommend you call — not email — and ask for an update. It is possible the job has been filled, it has been possible the job is still open. A phone call will likely help you get the clarity you need.

      Good luck, and remember if the job is not offered to you — the decision made likely has little to do with you or your qualifications…There are so many different factors which often go into hiring decisions.


  10. I can confirm what had been mentioned in one of the previous postings. If your references are getting called, that does not mean you will get the job! I did apply for a job about 5 weeks ago, attended the interview with the hiring manager ( I did really well !) , my references got call from the hiring manager (two of my references gave me glowing references) and still I ended up not getting the job. I got an email today from the hiring manager who said that I was one of four very qualified candidates and she had to go with another candidate whose experience was more suitable for the job. I don’t get it though why she would call my references if I was only “one of four very qualified candidates”.Really really disappointing…as I thought I would get the job, at least I was their top candidate. To rub salt in the wound, I have been asked to give my approval for them to keep my resume on file should another opportunity arise. You comments would be much appreciated…

    • Gene,

      Try not to take this personally — often the person hired does have more experience or some extraordinary experience related directly to the job — than the runner-up.

      True story: Early in my career I got turned down for a job I really wanted. They asked me to stay in touch. I did. And a year later I got hired. I loved the job — and working with the team for the three years I worked with them.

      Don’t give up on the company now. Just take a deep breath, keep looking and do stay in touch…

      Good luck,

  11. RAJNI BALA says:

    I interviwed on dec10, they did references check after 20 and yet i did get any response from hospital ,
    they told me they will be in touch after the references , its 28 dec now, how long i have to wait,

  12. I applied for a job as an IT support specialist about three days ago. I was 15 minutes early for the interview (which was a panel interview), and I feel that I did very well. Throughout the interview the interviewers gave me very positive feedback, and all three of my references were called in less than 24 hours of my interview, each of which gave positive feedback. Is this a filtering process? Or may they be about to give an offer? During the interview, they mentioned a possible second interview, that’s why I’m curious.

    • Andy,

      It’s typically a good sign when references are called this early in the process. This likely means if the second interview goes equally well…it’s quite likely you will receive an offer afterwards.

      Good luck with your search and keep us posted,

      • Hi Chandlee,

        The HR manager called me the following Monday and left me a message that she needed to speak with me. I was at work, but I finally had a chance to return her call during my lunch break. I assumed it was for setting up the second interview, but instead they offered me the job! There was a bit of salary negotiations to deal with, but I start next Monday.

        Thanks so much for your help! It definitely helped calm some of my nerves in that awkward waiting stage.

  13. Hi Chandlee,

    This post and the responses have helped put things in perspective. Based on prior experiences, when my references were called (and even when they weren’t), I was offered the job. To now, the success rate as far as call references equating to an offer were 100%. Then again, there are not a lot of examples, so I wanted to see how it panned out for others. Right now, I am in the midst of that scary waiting game. It’s vexing when it *feels* right, but you don’t know. I nailed the interview and my education and experience match/surpass the criteria and word from my references is that they were called and gave glowing recommendations. Last one was contacted on Wednesday, so right now I am in that state of limbo where anxiety builds until I either receive an offer or a “thank you for applying, but…” (Hopefully, the response will be the former over the latter.)

    • Ben,

      Thanks for your kind words. The wait is terrible and anxiety provoking for most people; I hope you get the answer you seek and thank you for sharing your experiences with the group.

      All the Best,

  14. Hi Chandlee,

    I’m in a government job competition where the hiring process seems to be a sort of scored competition. From some inside information I have, I discovered that 4 candidates were interviewed. I did the interview, and wasn’t sure if I did that well but they contacted me only a few hours later via email and said that I “was successful in the interview and would move on to the third stage of the assessment, which involves reference checking”. Based on the structure and format up until this point, should I assume that I still have other competition who will be “scored” along with me? How would they “score” a reference?

    • Marie,

      As we’re not in the hiring organization and are not in the government sector we are not at liberty to know.

      All you can do is stay the course. The silver lining — is that reference checking is rarely a bad place to be in a search.


  15. To make a long story short. I’ve been through a phone interview, first interview and second round interview. The interviews went well. I was introduced to the CEO. My references have been called. Everyone gave great reviews! I was told during my second interview that a decision would be made on Friday. I didn’t hear anything Friday so I waited and called today. I was told a decision would be made by the end of the day today. Later, I get a call but it is not from HR but from the CEO. He asked me a few general questions and said he would get back with HR as the lady I interviewed with wants to make a decision this week. Now, what is the hold up and why am I getting the run around? They wouldn’t be calling ALL five of my references if they were not interested, right? It is between myself and one other person. I feel very confident. I’m not overconfident because it could very well go either way, however, I do feel as if I have the job already because I’m not nervous or anxious. But this anticipation is bringing my confidence level down! What do you think?

    • Maybe HR wanted you to speak with the CEO and have him get to know you better because you really might be the one they want to hire! OR they are so torn between you and the other candidate that they had to bring the CEO in to filter you both. If you feel that confident, all I can tell you is to stay confident and GOOD LUCK! Keep us all posted!

  16. Thanks Mo! I actually got an offer from the job yesterday! She emailed me and I signed the paperwork and have already sent it back! I just had a good feeling about it.

  17. I got invited for an open day.I went to the interview and the hr guy told me I got the job and they need to get 3 references from me.later I got a call telling me to go for another interview with the director of the position I had applied for.the interview went well.Now my references have been called.what are my chances of getting this job?

    • David,

      Typically when employers have called your references, it means they are seriously considering your candidacy. Often employers check references for three or four of the final candidates. That said, don’t give up any current employment — or withdraw other applications until you have been extended a written job offer.

      Good luck and all the very best,

  18. I went for an interview 3days ago and the interview went extremely well. It was a panel interview and all three interviewers seemed happy with the responses i gave. As i was leaving for home, i got a call from the HR lady asking me to come back for a second interview with the head of the department and after that brief meeting, HR called again, inquiring about my references, however, all my seniors had all resigned from the company i had worked for, will that hinder my chances of getting the job? To help remedy the situation i did give them the HR number of my previous employer, hope that helped a bit

    • Can you look up the individuals who have left the company through LinkedIn or online research? If you find them, I recommend that you get in touch — and ask if they can help you out here. Even better, see if it may be possible for you to get current contact information — and ask permission to list them as a reference in the future as well.

      Good luck and all the best,

  19. Krista S. says:

    I stumbled upon this site because I was searching for the words “reference checks during interviews.” :) My dilemma is that a company interviewed me a few days ago, and just recently, I learned that they were checking my references. However, another company I applied for is inviting me to their office within the week for a possible job offer . While this is a good thing, my heart lies with the first one. I was wondering if it’s okay to follow up with them (the first company) regarding the status of my application? Is it also good to let them know that they’re my priority, but I have to know if I passed the application because another company is waiting for my reply before the week ends? Hoping you could enlighten me on this. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Krista,

      Sorry we missed your deadline! Hope that you have had good news from one or the other of these employers, preferably both.

      It’s unlikely that your preferred employer will be able to move quickly enough to make you an offer in time, since you just started the process with them, although checking your references is a good sign. Particularly if it is a large organization, time is needed to go through the administrative process and negotiations to issue an offer letter, and they probably won’t circumvent their whole process to hire you in time.

      If you received an offer from the not-preferred employer, I hope you requested some time to think about it. Once you have an offer, you can certainly reach out to the preferred employer to ask about the status of your application.

      Hope this turns out the way you want it to!

      Good luck!

      • Krista S. says:

        Thanks for your response!

        I decided to turn down the job offer after thinking it over.

        I e-mailed the company that I prefer regarding updates on my application, even asking them if they needed additional requirements from me.

        Their reply was this: They just finished gathering my references, and I was a strong contender for the position. They asked me to wait a little while longer. Then they said perhaps I could gather the usual requirements needed for job employment such as clearances from my previous company, transcript of records (TOR), etc.

        I took this as a good sign. When I asked them about additional requirements, I was actually pertaining to more sample works which they asked me to submit before. I was thinking, perhaps they needed more to aid in their decision process.

        But usually in our country, when a company asks the job seeker to ready documents such as TOR and clearances, a job offer is waiting. However, 2 weeks have passed and I still have not heard from them!

        I was thinking that, even if they suddenly decided they didn’t want me, they would’ve at least informed me, right? After all, they asked me to wait for their response.

        So I really don’t know where to go from here. :(

        • Hi Krista,

          It’s probably time to reach out to them again and ask them if they have any more questions or need any more documentation. Then, ask what the next steps and the timeline are.

          Since I’m not familiar with the requirements in your country, I could be over-estimating the complications, but it is possible that they are just methodically working step-by-step through their hiring process. Or, not. Hard to say.

          But, I don’t think you have anything to lose by contacting them after 2 weeks of waiting.

          I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!

          Good luck with your job search!

          • Updates:

            - I did send a follow up e-mail and apparently, they had a reorganization and there’s a new head under the department I was applying for. They told me that the new head needs to review once again the candidates. That was last April. Unfortunately, I never heard from them again.

            - However, just today, I noticed that they re-posted the same job ad, 3 months after the reorganization, and 3 months after I last spoke with them.

            - Would it be okay to send them an email again, and ask them to reconsider my application? It’s not too late, right??? Or would it just seem a bit off; after all, wouldn’t they reach out to me if they really wanted me for the job ? Before the reorganization, they did say I was a strong contender for the position.

            Hope you could help.



          • Susan P. Joyce says:

            Hi Krista,

            Get back in touch with them. They may assume that you are no longer available.

            Good luck with your job search!

          • Guess what? I got in!!! Thanks so much for patiently replying to all my queries. It was such a big help. :)

          • Susan P. Joyce says:

            That’s great news! Thank you for letting us know – VERY happy to be helpful!

            Wow – from April to October. That’s SIX months, but you got the job! Hope that all goes well, and you stay happily employed there for many years.


  20. I applied for a position @ a hospital on March 3rd 2013. I got a MISSED call from the HR on March 13th with a voicemail from her stating for me to call back at my earliest convience. I called multiple times and started getting really upset (sad) that she wasn’t answering my calls. I finally called her back on Friday the 14th and got to speak with her. She and I spoke on the phone for about ten minutes. She asked me if I could come in to fill out the PAPER application (the first one I completed was on the hospital’s website). I told her yes. She also told me to make sure to bring a copy of my Resume and references. I did. I was asked to take the “assessment” on the computer which took about 30 min., then I was given the paper appication to fill out. I was asked after about 1.5hrs. later to come in on Tuesday the 18th for an interview. I arrived early for the interview. On Friday the 22nd one of my references let me know she called her and she (the reference) said she “Aced it”. I listed three references total. I have not heard anything from either of the other two references I listed NOR HR. OH – I did send an Thank you email on Wednesday or Thursday the 20th or 21st of March 2013. I REALLY want the position for the hospital but I am not sure why they have not contacted my other references yet or why they have not called me yet. What do you think? UGH *sigh*

    • Hi Tanesha,

      Don’t give up yet! It sounds like you did everything right. Employers take time to go through the while hiring process, so be patient with them. Read “After the Interview, What Is Taking SO Long?” for an idea about what is happening.

      Good luck with your job search!

    • Tanesha,

      Sometimes employers can take a long time to make up their mind, sometimes the organizations can take a long time to make up their mind. Either way, I recommend that you don’t give up on this particular job but that you also keep looking.

      Good luck and all the Best,

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