Do you mind if we contact your current employer for a reference?

  | James Innes

Do you mind if we contact your current employer for a reference?

Alternative and related questions:

Would you give us permission to take up appropriate personal and professional references?

The meaning behind the question:

While the interviewer’s interest in checking your references is certainly not a negative sign, it’s still not yet a job offer. Most employers (if they have any sense) will take up references before hiring someone. It’s always a sensible precaution.

Your answer:

You don’t want your referees to be pestered unnecessarily by time wasters. By the time they have handled their umpteenth enquiry of the day, they are a lot less likely to say nice things about you! This is consequently not as straightforward a question to answer as it might at first seem. Your answer needs to be phrased in such a way as to make it clear that you have nothing to hide and you would be quite happy to provide details of referees but that this should only be done once your application is subject to a firm job offer. This is an entirely reasonable request and deserves to be respected.


I understand the importance of references and would be delighted for you to have a word with my referees – I’m confident they’ll be very supportive of my application. However, because my decision to change jobs is quite a sensitive issue – particularly with regard to my current employer – I would of course prefer if we could leave the issue of referees until such time as we might be discussing a firm job offer.

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