can I refuse a reference check that’s taking too long?

A reader writes:

I’m in a role where I regularly manage students, so I get asked to give references frequently. A former intern reached out to me this week asking me to be a reference, and I got a call from HR at their prospective employer (for a very entry-level role).

The reference questions were standard, but kind of weird part #1: the HR person was very, very slow while taking notes. I know it’s not easy to take interview notes while listening, but slow to the point that after each of my answers there would be 2+ minutes of silence while I listened to her type. Then she would read my response back to me verbatim. It was … tedious.

Weird part #2: the reference checker asked to put me on hold and didn’t return for more than 5 minutes. I told myself maybe she had a bathroom crisis, but when she got back on, she apologized and then said she had another meeting and asked to call me back later. This annoyed me because it felt like … if you didn’t leave enough time for this reference check and can’t be late to your meeting, maybe you just have to work with the reference questions you did get through? But fine, whatever, I gave a time later she could call me back.

Weird parts #3-4: She missed the time I gave and instead called me the next day (apologizing and saying how busy she is). We finished the reference (just as slow and tedious as before), but not before she put me on hold again (!), while leaving our call unmuted and taking another call (!?). I wanted to say something but I didn’t want to jeopardize my former intern’s employment prospects and figured whatever, this’ll be the end of it.

Surprise: it was not the end of it. Weird part #5: I missed 2 calls from her the next day and then got an email that says unfortunately “we” missed one question and could I please send an answer over by the end of the day.

My questions:
1) Can I just say no to the email? Am I wrong to want to say no?
2) If I do decline to continue, do I tell the applicant I couldn’t finish the reference and will they (rightfully) think I’m a jerk?
3) Could I have steered this differently earlier in the process, like saying no when they asked to call me back the first time, or missed the time I gave? What is an acceptable amount of time and energy to be expected to give for reference?

I’m usually thrilled to give a reference and appreciate the value of them for job seekers, but I feel really weird about this and don’t know if I’m being too much of a pushover, or being too impatient with this person trying to do their job.

You’re not being too impatient!

People who are willing to be references are doing reference-checkers a favor by agreeing to share their time and their candid thoughts. Reference-checkers have an obligation to be considerate of their time.

Putting you on hold for five minutes was rude, to say nothing of doing it again the next day. Things come up unexpectedly, of course, but she should have come right back to you, apologized, and asked to call you back if it was a true emergency — not left you sitting there for five minutes. And doing it again the next day suggests these weren’t emergencies; she was just being cavalier about your time.

And a reference call shouldn’t require two separate conversations … let alone an email asking for more on top of that. Typically reference calls are about 10-15 minutes, sometimes up to 20. It’s rare for them to take up more time than that.

You can indeed set limits on how much you’re available for when someone is being this presumptuous. If you realize at some point during a reference call that it’s going to take more time than you can reasonably invest (as it sounds like you did at some point during the tedious typing/repeat-back process), it’s fine to say, “I should let you know I only have a few more minutes” or “I should warn you I have a hard stop at 2:30” or so forth.

The tricky part, of course, is that you don’t want to harm someone’s chances of a job offer. And you should be as generous with your time as you reasonably can be for candidates you’re enthusiastic about and when the reference-checker appears to be trying to respect your schedule. But when you do need to set limits, the key is to make it clear how enthusiastic you about about the person (assuming in fact you are). For example: “My schedule this week is packed and I can’t do a third call, but I can tell you that Jane is fantastic — smart, creative, detail-oriented, and a pleasure to work with. I would be thrilled to hire her back and my schedule restrictions don’t reflect on her at all.”

That’s what I’d recommend doing here: Respond to the email request for yet more of your time with something like, “Since we’ve already done two phone calls, I won’t have time this week to answer additional questions, but I will sum up my earlier feedback by saying Jane is excellent. (Include one sentence of details here.) I hope this helps!” (Of course, if you could just answer their question in the same amount of time this would take, you might as well do that instead.)

I don’t think that’s something you need to report to the candidate, but it would also be fine to tell them, “They ended up splitting the reference call into multiple calls and then sent an email with an additional question after we’d already talked for quite a long time. My sense was that this is about the reference-checker’s slowness at her job, not about concerns with you. After spending 45 minutes with them on two separate calls, I wasn’t able to answer their final emailed question, but I gave you a glowing reference and emphasized that you are (insert strongest qualities here).”

{ 145 comments… read them below }

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      Or, how:

      -new to their job
      -working for a third-party reference checking company
      -a sign of a truly disorganized and possibly dysfunctional workplace
      -doing the work of 2-3 people

      1. Observer*

        No. I mean all of these could be true. But still wildly entitled. I mean, the holds (2nd on un-muted!), multiple calls and expecting an email on top of that? By the end of the day?!

        Sorry, it doesn’t matter why you are having a hard time, the idea that you can demand this much from a reference makes no sense.

        1. ecnaseener*

          I agree. Whether it’s an arrogant type of entitled or a clueless/disorganized type of entitled, the reference-checker clearly assumes they get as much of LW’s time as they need. That’s entitled.

      2. Bluburry*

        Yup! Personally I would definitely tell the person I was giving a reference to what happened and perhaps hint that it might not be the most organized or healthy place to work. Red flags abound.

    2. H3llifIknow*

      I don’t know if I’d go with entitled versus “clueless” “lacking in self-awareness” “boneheaded” etc… Entitled has a more negative and “self-deserving” connotation to it–at least in my book. This person seemed disorganized, chaotic, and clueless.

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        Alison has explained that a reference call should be a nuanced conversation. Almost as much can be gained by HOW a person answers as WHAT a person answers. Transcribing with one eye on the clock and the other on your desk phone is not getting a reference for an employee. It’s ridiculous.

        1. Teaching teacher*

          I’ve only given one job reference in my life and don’t particularly expect to give another (I teach k-8 and my coteacher became an administrator so I was qualified to speak to her skills) but the person who called was the principal’s secretary who was definitely transcribing to pass my comments along. Is that unusual? If you were down to your last three candidates and you were going to call three references for each…. that would be a lot of time for the big boss to be on the phone, and if they were hiring a few positions that could be all day in the phone.

      2. Alternative Person*


        I agree with you there. I think ‘entitled’ assigns a level of deliberateness to the actions of the reference checker when a bad work situation combined with garden variety cluelessness is much more likely.

        The checker reminds me of an incompetent manager I had a few years back whom I don’t down was drowning under the workload but never did anything to manage any of the issues. He would then get upset when us staff tried to suggest solutions or in extreme cases solve the problem ourselves.

  1. linger*

    Also, if they’re going to type every answer verbatim, then this whole process could and should have been one email. Maybe the incompetence of this one HR staffer doesn’t fairly reflect the company as a whole … but it’s enough of a red flag that it might be worth OP checking back with Applicant about whether Applicant saw any similar deficiencies in the interview process to date.

      1. Zombeyonce*

        OP could also have asked themselves that the HR person record the second call instead of transcribing during it after seeing how slow they were the first time around.

    1. Anne of Green Gables*

      I disagree about an emailed reference. I do not want to type out answers to your questions, that will take me far longer than a call. And I believe Alison has covered why written references are not ideal, including you (reference asker) want to be able to ask follow up questions and potentially tease out more information, and there are some things a reference giver may not want to put in writing.

        1. Observer*

          That’s true under normal circumstances. But the minute you get someone essentially taking dictation of what you are saying – and hugely slowing down the process, I think that changes things considerably.

      1. Mopsy*

        It’s interesting to hear you say that, because I’ve never heard of anyone in my industry getting called about a reference. All of the references I’ve been asked to give have also been over email.

        1. JanetM*

          I’ve done reference checking by email and by phone. I’m not sure how my manager is going to do the reference checks for our current open position.

          I do know that my organization requires the hiring manager to speak to the candidate’s current manager before making an offer. Even if the candidate listed three other perfectly good references; the current supervisor must speak on the phone to the hiring manager. (I remember when my union was hiring a bookkeeper; I called the candidate’s current manager and he started out by saying, “If I tell you she was terrible, will that keep you from hiring her away from me?” Answer was, “She’s retiring in 60 days, and you know that, so no.”)

          Based on having read this column for several years, I think this is a horrible requirement, but it’s way above my pay grade. I take a grim sort of pleasure in imagining a hiring manager having to go through a relay service to talk with a Deaf current supervisor.

          1. Fikly*

            Requiring references is discriminatory, plain and simple.

            And then people get all defensive and go, well, it helps me hire, so…insert their defense as to why their needs to hire are more important than not discriminating, usually worded in such a way that they are denying it’s discriminating to begin with, while ignoring all the times references have actually led to bad hires.

            It’s not going to change, I wish it would. And while your scenario is fun to imagine, the only person it hurts is the applicant.

              1. CoinPurse*

                Well, when I took my last job, two of my best former managers were dead. People who really knew my work. So it can be an age thing. I was fortunate to be able to cobble together more but it was a PIA. Now retired, I hope never have to jump through this hoop again.

            1. Lisa B*

              I’m really struggling with this one – can you say more? I have seen good cases on why requiring a cover letter could be discriminatory because it favors those who have had white collar parents who can educate them on why that’s important, for example. But I’m not seeing how requiring references could be discriminatory?

              1. cubone*

                I’d also love to hear their take, but I will say, I used to hire high school students for summer roles and we had to petition our organization to change their reference policy. They insisted on the same “3 professional references”, cannot be a teacher, “friend” or family member, must be a supervisor from a job you’ve worked in for 6 months or more, etc. For teenagers looking for their first job, half of them only have babysitting for friends/family as their only paid work experience! One of our best students ever would never have gotten through under the old policy; all his references were teachers and family friends, but really, they were community members who could speak to how he conducted himself and how he cared for people in his community. It changed my mind about references tbh. I think it just goes back to who and what we consider “professional”.

                1. Starbuck*

                  Not allowing teachers as references is definitely an unusual and very unhelpful restriction especially at entry level! They never should have had that policy in the first place, it’s very out of touch.

                2. Phryne*

                  I think asking refences for teenagers looking for an after school job is weird no matter what. You will absolutely not know which ones are the good ones in a professional setting before they come and try it out. They themselves will not know, their parents will not know, their teacher will not know what they will be like as employees.
                  Lets face it, you hire them because they are cheap, and that is the price you pay imo.

            2. shades of blue*

              I don’t know if I’d go as far as “discriminatory” but yeah, they can have problems. I had an awful abusive job that I managed to escape, yay! I was in the next place for 3 years. It was small, it had absolutely no turnover. I mean, absolutely none, in three years. If a place wanted a “former manager”, I could not provide it. I only had “current manager”, who wanted to keep me in my job. I didn’t have “former coworkers”, I only had “current coworkers”, all of whom gossiped.

              I managed a transfer to another boss that my boss was on good terms with, and I kept working on some old projects with my old office. But otherwise, I just… could not have provided any references without my current job knowing about it.

            3. Moana*

              “Requiring references is discriminatory, plain and simple”
              I’m sorry, what????

              Oh honey no. Try again.

            4. Artemesia*

              Not talking with references for an important hire is a great way to get exceptionally awful new hires. While it may be overkill for an entry level position, for anything requiring competence and character, you just have to talk with people who have worked with the person.

            5. Baron*

              Definitely interested in hearing more of fikly’s views on this.

              As someone from a couple of equity-seeking groups, I often have issues with discrimination in the reference-checking process – past bosses telling people I’m “unprofessional” due to things like my hairstyle, appearance, etc., and then not elaborating to the point where checkers will know that they’re basing this assessment on protected grounds. I’ve had terrible experiences with references. If we’re being honest, a *lot* of the hiring process is just about reproduction of certain social norms which tend to be discriminatory – a powerful person at Job A (who’s often gotten there via adhering to certain societal norms) asking a powerful person at Job B (same), “Hey, is this person Our Kind Of People?”

              But I wouldn’t necessarily go as far as fikly does, and I’d be interested to hear more from them about their perspective.

            6. Starbuck*

              “Requiring references is discriminatory, plain and simple.”

              I don’t disagree that people’s preexisting biases may affect the quality of references given or a candidate’s ability to get good references, but I don’t see how this isn’t also the case for every other practice in hiring – interviewing, etc., where the solution is to change your practice to reduce/eliminate bias, and not just eliminate the practice altogether. My own practice in hiring has been to ask for specific examples as much as possible especially when someone is negative or less than enthusiastic – which is just smart practice all around, since a behavior, attitude, or work style that was a bad fit in one workplace might be totally fine for the different role that I’m hiring for. You’re definitely right that it’s not going to go anywhere – it’s far too useful.

              I’ve seen this sentiment on twitter before and it got a lot of buy-in and very little push back, which was interesting.

            7. There You Are*

              Pffft. I co-own a small, low-skill home service company (think: mowing, blowing leaves, or presser-washing driveways). We are generous in our hiring policy because we believe everyone deserves a chance.

              And yet… to a one, the people who can’t supply references (literally can’t give us a name and a number or no one ever answers at the number we’re given) have only lasted — at most — two weeks on the job before we give up and have to fire them.

              Then, one of us owners will be in the local shop where all the other home service companies like ours buy most of their supplies and say or hear something like, “Damn, I just had to fire my new guy, Dakota. He was late every day without calling, took a million breaks, and was always on his phone with his girlfriend.” Then someone else will pipe up, “Oh, you gave Dakota a shot, too, huh?” And then we raise our hand and say, “Yup, us too.” And everyone laughs and shakes their heads.

              The ones with references, though? Those guys usually end up working for all of us as we each get busy/slow. If we can’t schedule them for a full week of work, they’ll grab some hours from one of our competitors.

          2. beedy boop boop*

            Just wrote essentially the same thing below. It’s shady as all get out. Say the supervisor does give a fair reference like they should. What if we can’t come to terms on the offer? Now my boss knows I’m looking and that could open me up for retaliation.

            1. Frank Doyle*

              Requiring references doesn’t mean that the applicant’s current supervisor needs to be contacted. References can (and should, where possible) be prior managers, not current ones.

              1. Frank Doyle*

                Sorry, I didn’t see that the comment you were responding to was talking about references from current managers, I thought you were speaking about references in general.

              2. Someanemoneous*

                I just feel like no matter what, it’s going to be super awkward for me, given that my previous two managers and my current one all still work in the same department and I work with them… And managers previous to that were 8+ years ago and not familiar with my recent/current work…

          3. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

            Is this government, by chance? I see that frequently and push back on the requirement in EVERY OFFICE I WORK IN. Those internal to government (i.e., those interviewing for a promotion or transfer) aren’t disadvantaged by this, usually, but those external it’s really not a good practice at all, and I’ve explained why to others and why I will not require it in any of my shops. I DO want a manager, but doesn’t need to be current.

          4. Dawn*

            You’re welcome to tell your organization that I would never, ever apply to (or continue with) an application if this requirement were known, if you think it will help.

            People who have other options aren’t going to jeopardize their ability to make a living for you.

          5. Ana Gram*

            Yeah, I don’t like that order at all. I hire for local government and we provide a salary offer a few days after the interview. If the candidate accepts, we continue the background check. We do speak to a current supervisor but it’s the final step and we only do so if we feel pretty confident about making an offer based on the other references.

            I’d never speak with a supervisor before coming to terms on salary/benefits, though! Yikes on bikes!

            1. cubone*

              This is wild to read, I’ve literally never gotten an offer prior to references. Everything is on hold til the reference checks come back.

              1. Ana Gram*

                Oh we don’t give a job offer prior to completing the background- just the salary offer. Our pay is good but some people do turn it down. We calculate salary as early as possible in the process so we aren’t wasting their time or ours.

              2. There You Are*

                I’ve gotten offers prior to references. It usually goes hand-in-hand with the drug screen and background check. I work in a white collar job where, if you’ve nailed the interviews, the assumption is that *of course* you’ll have good references and pass the drug screen and background check. So offers are made with a verbal or written footnote, “Assuming that your references, drug screen, and background check don’t give us any unexpected information.”

              3. Not THAT Karen*

                The last person I hired, we offered the job contingent on references. Then his references took almost two weeks to get back to us. I felt really bad for the guy that we kept him hanging but it ended up all working out and he’s fantastic.

          6. Chirpy*

            Oh, this is a good point. Was the reference checker using a relay service? A deaf friend used to use one, and you could hear the typing on the line during the call (which was always awkward, texting has greatly improved access for a lot of people.)

            1. References LW*

              LW here: I could be wrong, but I have experienced calls with relay systems before and I really don’t think that was the case. It is totally possible though there could’ve been some other sort of accommodation going on that I didn’t fully grasp (even if it’s just a case of them being someone who struggles with verbal processing and memory, which I completely understand as someone with ADHD. But again, then I think recording would be a better solution for all )

      2. beedy boop boop*

        My company went to an online reference survey. It’s quite pesky. And if you’re an internal candidate, the only reference they request is your current supervisor (and this is before the hiring supervisor can make an offer/you negotiate pay, start date, etc.). Last time I hired someone, I had them give me external references and I called those people, just didn’t tell HR. I’m fairly certain it isn’t *against* the rules, it’s just not policy.

        I have gotten some wild, decision-changing responses during a verbal reference check that I just don’t think I would get if someone were filling out a written survey. (Not to mention, last time someone had to fill one out for me, they asked my advice on what to write for them… so I essentially wrote my own reference.)

        1. Random Academic Cog*

          I’ve never completely changed my mind due to a reference, but I’ve definitely seen some candidates go from a reluctant “maybe as a last resort” to “nah, we’ll repost the position” after speaking with the references.

    2. Budgie Buddy*

      Noooo I just realized it was being typed out verbatim. Or was it, if the reference checker didn’t start typing until OP stopped speaking???? I work in journalism and even I don’t do a full transcript – only quotes I want to use.

      1. References LW*

        LW here: it was weird – typing during but then still needing a good chunk of time after to “finish” and then repeating verbatim and asking if that was correct (NOT paraphrasing or restating, like reading the whole thing).

        It was interesting because I gave another reference literally the following day, which was roughly the same number and type of questions, but took 15 min. That person was clearly a powerhouse, super fast typing and asking follow ups and capturing nuances.

        The more I think about it, the less annoyed and the more empathic I feel for this person, because clearly they’re not in the right role or don’t have the right supports/mentorship/training to know how to do it well.

  2. Anne of Green Gables*

    This sounds extremely frustrating for the reference giver!

    I know everyone does references differently, but I am required to ask very specific questions of each reference, and I must have 3 complete references for any hire. Now, I do try to make it as easy as possible for the reference give, and I usually tell people it will take about 10 minutes (usually anywhere from 5-10, but I’d rather they be prepared to give me 10 minutes) so they know how long to anticipate. But having someone just tell me “Jane was delightful to work with” does not help me get Jane hired. I realize this LW was waaaay past reasonable, just putting it out there that some places do require very specific things in their references.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Right, that’s not for normal reference calls! It’s specifically for a situation where it’s dragging on and you need to set a limit while emphasizing it’s not about the candidate.

      1. Beth*

        I understand that LW just wants to be done with it, but at any point would you suggest this get reported back to the HR of the company asking for the reference?

        “Just fyi, here is my experience with your reference-checker. I only alert you because you may be losing out on good candidates whose references do not have the time or patience to sit through the process if their experience was in any way similar to mine.”

        1. HonorBox*

          I was wondering the same thing. Let the student get the job so this feedback doesn’t reflect on them… but absolutely say something!

        2. Endorable*

          I agree totally! The hiring company needs to know about this incompetent reference checker.

    2. virago*

      “having someone just tell me ‘Jane was delightful to work with’ does not help me get Jane hired. I realize this LW was waaaay past reasonable, just putting it out there that some places do require very specific things in their references.”

      In the OP’s case, there have been two *very long* phone calls and the job in question is an entry-level one. The HR person should have stepped up and told *their* boss: “Look, I fumbled, it wound up going much more slowly than I anticipated, and I didn’t get to all the questions. Can we skip this one this time?”

      1. References LW*

        Hi, I’m the LW and this is exactly what I wished for/what I would’ve done in the reference checkers shoes. At a certain point, it felt like THEIR problem but they kept making it mine? I felt like especially by the last email, my thought process would’ve been “ugh I missed a question in our two calls, now I need to tell my boss why we don’t have that question answered”. Not “now I need them to answer it”.

    3. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      An aside, no desire to derail, I don’t want to be “not everyone eats sandwiches” but is it a literal deal breaker?
      What if the person does not have three references? What if you can’t reach three of their references? Sorry, three people won’t vouch for you so you’re out? Do you let the candidate know that’s why?
      Sorry for the list! But thanks.

      1. Fikly*

        And that’s just one of many reasons requiring references is inherently discriminatory, and lots of great people do not get hired.

        1. Happy meal with extra happy*

          I think my concern with this line of thinking is that ultimately…well, yeah, quite literally the process of hiring for a position is by definition discriminatory in the literal sense. You are reviewing and judging multiple candidates and picking which one you think is best to the detriment of the others. Now, obviously, you mean more akin legal discrimination, but I’m not sure which legally protected groups you’re saying are discriminated against.

        2. Fik as Sheet*

          It’s only discriminatory in the sense that it allows you to discriminate between candidates, which is the entire point when hiring.

          Your lack of references doesn’t mean I’m being “discriminatory” if I decline to hire you because of it. That’s a you problem.

        3. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

          I haven’t thought about requiring references being discriminatory before, but in thinking about it now, I can see a few issues. One is that people are biased and since you’re asking for subjective opinions, those biases carry over (think, eg of someone who says that someone is unprofessional because of natural hair, or worse, someone who had to complain against their manager for discriminatory treatment). Additionally, it could be hard for people to change types of work. e.g. if someone worked construction and got hired by the job (I think that’s a thing), they might not have a good reference or contact info for the reference. So, people trying to “work their way up” might be at a disadvantage, and people from more oppressed backgrounds are more likely to be int hat category.

          1. L. Bennett*

            But generally the candidate chooses who they are listing as references, so wouldn’t they generally choose people who they believe are going to say nice things about their work?

            1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

              It could be possible I guess that they are required to supply the name of a current manager/supervisor.

      2. Nina*

        I’ve been at least mostly employed for about ten years. My options for references are kinda limited!
        One is my boss at my first ever job, who is also my dad, so that won’t fly.
        One is my boss at my first full time job, which is a company that has gone into liquidation and the last time anyone saw him he was headed for Bermuda to dodge personal bankruptcy.
        One is my current boss who is known for being vindictive towards people who talk about maybe not working for this company for the entire rest of their career.
        One is in very nearly the worst possible time zone for people in my country to contact and doesn’t speak English.
        One is my grad school advisor who has since retired so again, contacting her is kind of hit and miss.
        One is my last boss but one, in a company legendary for its high churn so whether he still even works there is a crapshoot.
        ‘Three references’ requirements suck.

        1. Just Another Zebra*


          I’m running into this problem with my current job search. My first job was mall retail, and I left 10 years ago. No one at the store-level will remember me enough to give any kind of working reference, and the corporate HR will just confirm dates. My second job was also retail, more niche, and the entire company went bankrupt and no longer exists. My third job is my current one. I’m in contact with old coworkers, but those aren’t management contacts. It sucks.

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          That’s where I’m coming from. Been working for the same person for 25 years. I work under her and under her boss. OK, her boss was different when I started, but she left 15 years ago. Do you really want a 15 year old reference from a grandboss? It’s freaking me out.

          1. There You Are*

            For Not Tom: Unless you’re applying for highly-regulated positions with very rigid hiring requirements, you can bring your 25 years of experience to life in both your cover letter and your interviews. You’ll be able to speak to things in ways that someone who is faking it or who sucked at their job(s) never could.

            And, for a reasonable company, you ought to be able to use your peers and co-workers/managers at higher levels than you who know your work.

            I’ve had to use peers and managers from other departments when I couldn’t use my own manager, and it’s all worked out.

        3. Gene Parmesan*

          Absolutely, we just recently hired someone for our customer service, government agency adjacent job and we ask for at least 3 professional references (actual requirement is 2). Our hire is a delightful young POC who clearly had the customer service chops to handle the job as they had multiple years of working in retail food service/bakery style jobs, and it was pretty clear this type of job was all they were considered for.
          Given the nature of their employment and the turnover/types of supervisors they had we only received a response from 1, despite numerous attempts to reach out; fortunately the hiring manager has the ability to wave the requirement and so far, so good for both us and them!

      3. Starbuck*

        Some positions involve sensitive enough work that you really HAVE to get people to vouch for you, and especially if it’s not the kind of work where portfolios are a thing. I hire people to work with children, and yes of course we do background checks as well, but I also need someone to tell me what you are like when you’re interacting with a kid!

      4. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, I understand why references are important but strictly requiring three references that answer specific questions is too rigid. It also doesn’t seem like a good use of time to require three. What is that third person gonna tell you that you didn’t already get from the first two? I can see why you might want more than one in case one person is overly cheery or optimistic in general or just afraid to say anything slightly negative. But I’m assuming the third person is a tie-breaker for those cases. I’m sure that doesn’t happen often enough to warrant it as an across-the-board requirement. And for that matter, most people won’t list references that will say anything negative anyway.

        References can’t take the place of an entire hiring process. This feels like a situation where a bad hiring decision was made and this requirement was started as on overreaction.

      5. Anne of Green Gables*

        Reply to Not Tom, Just Petty, and also clarifying since I am the commenter whose employer requires specific questions of 3 references.

        I don’t like it, either, but it’s not a policy I have any control over. It is 100% enforced for full time positions. When I first started, it was less strict for part-time positions but there were a lot of HR changes a few years ago so I’m not sure about those now. We still submit 3 references for PT.

        For clarification, these do NOT need to be supervisor references. There are a lot of “but I’ve only had 2 managers in the last 20 years and one is dead now” comments. Co-workers are fine. I try to get at least one reference who was supervisory but I don’t think that’s an official requirement, and I understand why people don’t always feel comfortable with a current manager. If we have trouble reaching one (or more) of the references we were provided, we go back to the candidate and ask them to either contact their reference and ask them to respond to our calls, or give us new/additional names.

        Again, I do this because I have to, not because I think it’s a good policy. I work with candidates as much as I can in terms of working with their reference limitations but still meeting what my HR requires of me before I can hire them. We actually have an additional hurdle specific to my department: the largest employer in the metro area of my sub-field has a policy that they will only verify employment dates, not give references. Some individuals will not follow this and will actually give a reference. When I have a candidate with this employer in their job history, I warn them at the interview stage of that employer’s policy (most employees don’t realize it), ask them to go to their references and fid out if they will talk to me, and if they don’t, let them know I need additional names. I am used to talking to candidates about who else I can accept as a reference.

    4. Underrated Pear*

      I realize you’re not in charge of your company’s policy, but that seems just a bit too stringent, in my experience. References are usually contacted at the last stage and therefore serve to triangulate the data you already have on the candidate based on interviews and whatever other hiring material you’ve collected. In other words, ideally they will confirm what you already think about the candidate (i.e., that you should hire them), or they might raise a red flag you didn’t know about before. Other than that, they probably shouldn’t be weighing so heavily in the hiring decision, because most people who serve as references ARE busy and only have time to give short or perfunctory responses.

      Some background: I used to work for a large background vetting company that did reference checks as part of our package. Our clients were mostly investment banks, a lot of Fortune 100 companies. We were usually required to conduct multiple checks, and of course we had a standard set of questions (around 10 minutes). But it was also common for reference givers to say something like, “I’m sorry I don’t have time for a full interview, but Jane was delightful to work with and you should absolutely hire her,” and… that was usually fine. Granted, maybe not for EVERY reference (clients’ requirements varied), but honestly, once you have a lot of information on the candidate, there shouldn’t be an absolute need for every single reference to answer every single question. If your candidate has an amazing resume, aced the interview, and displays an impressive portfolio/writing samples/whatever, *and* their former boss says, “Oh yeah, hire her for sure!” it doesn’t seem like a great move by the company to let that person pass by just because their former bosses were too busy to tick the box of answering every single question.

    5. Dawn*

      Here’s the other thing though, I don’t work for you.

      I know that you have your requirements and of course I want to help the people I’m giving a reference for, but the flip side of that is that whatever the reference-checker’s requirements may be, they are in no position to make demands that people outside of their company meet their “very specific” requirements.

      1. AFac*

        I once was asked for a recommendation for an excellent student to go to graduate school. Most places will let you upload a letter, and most faculty write a letter to have ‘on file’ for that student, and modify it as necessary.

        This program didn’t want a letter. They wanted me to write out, into their online form, replies for 6 questions. Some of it I could cut and paste from my letter. Others were baffling. (For example, one was essentially “Give only one reason to recommend this student for our program.” Only one reason? Really? She’s done amazing work in so many areas, and you want only one reason?)

        I felt like I was the one applying to grad school, except that I’ve already been there, done that.

        1. BigTenProfessor*

          OMG, YES. Same with endless questions about how to student ranks in 80 different categories. Read the letter or don’t; things like analytical ability should come from other parts of their application.

        2. Not Tom, Just Petty*

          If they are going to make you answer individual things for their system to quantify they should cut the crap and write out survey questions and have the reference select from 1-10

          1. Afac*

            They had those too! In addition to the 6 essay questions.

            I’m sure at some level this was a DEIR thing; everyone answers the same questions so there’s a more even comparison. But while recommendations are part of my job, I don’t have all afternoon to fill out the form.

        3. References LW*

          I’m the LW and I’ve done a ton of grad school references and they are AWFUL. Especially for clinical professions like social work, counselling, and medicine, they ask so many questions and have so many hoops. One persons grad school said my reference MUST come from a “professional work email” and I wasn’t allowed to use my gmail.

          1. AFac*

            There are people now who are creating gmail addresses that look like real professors’ emails, but are in fact used by a co-conspirator to submit good reviews for that person in the professor’s name. Mostly I hear people are doing this for an easy peer-review, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tried to game the system for a good application recommendation, too.

          2. Starbuck*

            That professional work email think is at least very understandable in reasoning and not really onerous if you’re still in the same position… but what if you’ve since retired or aren’t working there anymore, or just don’t have a professional email??

            1. References LW*

              That was what bothered – I was leaving my role in 2 weeks and had a 1 month break before my new one started. If the timing had been just slightly delayed, I wouldn’t have had a professional email to use. I do know people cheat, it just seems like a system that has a lot of unfortunate side effects to cope with that potential.

              1. Starbuck*

                Yes, what then – do you need a reference for yourself, to count as a reference? Now I’m imagining a never-ending chain of references for references.

        4. Starbuck*

          Yes I’ve had to fill out these online form references before for academic things, they’re always the worst. I grumble and get them done, then shudder to think what the actual applicant had to go through.

    6. Observer*

      but I am required to ask very specific questions of each reference, and I must have 3 complete references for any hire.

      Which is all good and fine, but you really can’t expect the reference person to care about that.

      Now, in your case, it sounds like you are able to do this in a reasonable amount of time, and are organized about it, so it sounds fine to me. But it’s important to keep in mind that when responding to people who are willing to give a reference or people who need to give you references, that “we need this thing” does not translate into “references are required to go along with it.” Job seekers often have to, but references are not job seekers, and have no obligation to *you.

      Note – Generic you.

  3. Just Another Zebra*

    As a job candidate, I’d appreciate knowing this about a prospective employer. If they’re like this with someone whose time they don’t have control over, what will they be like for an entry-level employee. It might be a one-off, or it might be indicative off the office as a whole.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      This was my thought. OP, it makes sense to tell your intern how this company treated you. If you’re feeling mentor-y, you could even ask about their experience interviewing — I wouldn’t be surprised to hear additional red flags come up, and you then have an opportunity to calibrate your intern’s expectations usefully.

      1. ferrina*

        Yep, if you’ve got room to mentor the intern, that could be really helpful. Tell them what you saw, why it worried you, and give them some resources if they have future concerns. This might include grabbing coffee (including virtual coffee) with you in a few months, and should definitely include AAM (I like to recommend the Friday Open Thread in case someone wants a gut check on “Is this normal?”)

      2. Keyboard Cowboy*

        Yeah, that’s a really good way about it. When I read the ending advice about how to tell the intern, I wondered if they even need to know, and how to phrase it without sounding like you’re just complaining to them – about something they should feel really comfortable asking people for in the future, no less.

        But teaching them how to take that behavior alongside the behavior they saw in the interview could be a very useful exercise.

    2. knitcrazybooknut*

      Agreed. This is a great opportunity to walk the candidate through some questions they might like to ask their future employer, based on your experience as the reference-giver.

    3. References LW*

      LW here: I did end up telling them! I was worried they might feel like I was complaining but I just wanted them to know in case anything went haywire (or basically if the Hr person told them “your reference didn’t complete the check”).

      It’s been a while since I managed this student, so I’d actually suggested before this whole thing they use someone else in the future (I have good things to say, but I feel like they’ve developed a ton of new skills since we worked together and it’s unfortunate I can’t speak to those). So that added a slightly weird layer to the whole thing.

  4. Pyanfar*

    This sounds like the reference checker was with a third party company, likely low paid and with unreasonable expectations of their own.

    1. Jessica*

      Yeah, it also sounded to me like the reference check was delegated to some very low-level employee whose job was just to record the answers to the questions and who did not have any authority, initiative, or sense.

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Maybe the reference checker is paid by the minute and is just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g the whole thing out, lol.

    3. Melissa*

      Agreed. I was a reference recently for someone who took a job at an enormous healthcare system. When they called me, it was obvious that she was just a reference-checker: not an HR person from the hospital, not someone involved in hiring generally, but an outsourced chcker. She was just reading off items “On a scale of 1-10 how reliable is Emma?” “On a scale of 1-10 how thorough is Emma?” It sort of bummed me out, because I wanted to give a glowing and elaborate review, but it was clear that the checker could only take rote answers to rote questions.

    4. I should really pick a name*

      I’m curious what you basis for thinking that it is.
      (This isn’t meant to argue against you, I’m honestly curious what signs you see indicate a 3rd party setup)

      1. ferrina*

        I thought it might have been a delegation thing (including 3rd party), because of the verbatim typing. I had a boss assign me reference checking when it wasn’t even close to my job, just because I happened to have a couple free hours. I could see someone interpreting that to mean “repeat everything verbatim”.

        This definitely feels like a company that is just checking a box and trying to keep an employee busy, and employee that really doesn’t care about their job.

    5. Observer*

      <i.This sounds like the reference checker was with a third party company, likely low paid and with unreasonable expectations of their own.

      That doesn’t change anything for the OP. And whether it’s the reference checker who is unreasonable, or she’s just incompetent and her bosses are unreasonable, SOMEONE is being unreasonable here.

    6. References LW*

      LW here: I don’t think it was a 3rd party. The person is listed on their website with an HR title. Granted I don’t know how long they’ve worked there (or in the field).

      I think the missing puzzle piece for a lot of people is, unfortunately: it’s an under resourced non-profit. Not that all NPs would behave like this, but the vibe I got was just … chaotic. However, I also checked references while working at an under resourced non-profit and definitely never did this, so…

      1. Cascadia*

        I don’t think any of this behavior relates to under resourcing though – it’s just incompetence! the HR person might be overworked, but that doesn’t excuse or even really explain any of this behavior. It sounds like gross incompetence and chaos.

        1. References LW*

          Yes, completely fair! I think what I meant is more that from my experience, I saw a lot of gross incompetence thrive in under resourced NFPs, because taking the time to develop (and maintain) checks and balances and trainings and systems seemed like a luxury to some higher manegement. Obviously not all NFPs are like that, nor all HR people in NFPs and there is plenty of gross incompetence and chaos in for profit companies to go around.

  5. I'm Just Here for the Cats!!*

    I wonder if this was the HR person’s first reference check and thought they had to write down everything word for word. Or if they got communication that they needed more details in notes but took it to an extreme?

    1. References LW*

      LW here: that part is the least problematic, but was the most fascinating to me. I’ve just never had anyone write down everything I say and then repeat it back to me like that. And usually anyone I find who does this kind of work is just a bit better at capturing main points, typing lightning fast, etc

      I definitely got the vibe the person felt required to have every single thing verbatim, whether that was due to something with the candidate, or a workplace thing. It just felt so weird, especially because this was incredibly basic, not very nuanced reference q’s.

      1. Scandinavian Vacationer*

        Aaaaand this is why I believe the hiring mgr should always do their own reference calls. Why bother checking references if you’re not going to do it yourself? As the potential manager, you are the most vested in these references. When HR started taking over these calls a few years ago, I asked to keep doing them for my hires. I’ve found 95% of reference calls to paint incredibly accurate pictures of employees’ work.

        1. Starbuck*

          Yes this is so weird, for a reference check to really be helpful I need to not just know what they’re saying, but hear how they’re saying it – that matters a lot! I know not everyone performs well on the phone etc etc but you can get an extra layer of meaning that way which is very helpful. If I delegated a reference call, it would be either to someone I trusted to pick up on and convey that nuance to me (not by typing an entire transcript!), or I’d just email a list of questions and be done with it.

          1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

            Absolutely. I want to hear your tone of voice, the level of enthusiasm or lack thereof about the applicant, awkward pauses, gasps of disbeliefs that the applicant would ever suggest you as a reference, and everything else. I always did my own reference checks because of the wealth of information you can get in most cases.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        If they’re just going to write things down verbatim, I would just ask them to send me the questions to type out myself! It’s faster and it’s not like they’re really listening anyway. It’s not the kind of thing I’d think to say in the moment but I might try: “Are you the hiring manager or are you just passing on my comments, because this double checking of my phrasing is taking a lot longer than the usual conversation would.” I think you did a big favour for your student though; I recently had a collision between a busy referee and rigorously bureaucratic reference checks. She just forwarded the questions to my current employer saying she wasn’t sure if she could answer such intrusive questions and could they take it from here! I was very annoyed because I specifically said to her I was job hunting discreetly and didn’t want my organisation to know.

  6. No to phone reference*

    In the UK (public sector), and I have never* given or asked for a verbal reference – it’s always written (so you have proof! Also getting hold of people by phone is always tedious, because meetings / commitments / teaching, but emailed references are usually responded to quickly – the recipient tends to prioritise as a time-urgent task (I do anyway!))

    If someone asked for a phone call and then was this difficult I would say to email follow up questions and I’ll respond. If I was feeling petty I’d add “… at my convenience”.

    * I had a US student intern a little while ago. After returning to the US they put me as a referee and their new employer emailed me with “I’d usually do this in a phone call, but due to time difference here’s the questions … “. That was the first time I’d heard of verbal references.

    1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I think the general idea is that verbal references allow the prospective employer to ask any clarifying or follow up questions to the reference’s answers, or gauge their tone of voice as they respond. A flat or hesitant, “Fergus is eligible for rehire,” can mean something different than an enthusiastic quick response or different inflection of their voice.

      1. ferrina*

        Exactly. I’ve called references a few times, and there’s a big difference between the former employer who is really excited about Dani and the employer that is lukewarm. The affect doesn’t always come across in writing (see: trying to decipher sarcasm in text messages).

        It’s also nice to be able to ask follow up questions. When you hear a hesitation and gently probe about it, you get a lot more information than if you ask for a written paragraph.

        1. Reference checks*

          Absolutely, I think I can honestly say that 100 per cent of the value of reference checks is in the follow up questions, not on the initial questions.

      2. Earlk*

        Typically in the UK if it’s a formal reference you don’t really go in to what the person is like, you’re not allowed to give bad references so you can only answer objective questions e.g. what their job title was and how long they worked somewhere, this is especially true in public sector, although I can see there being some more informal spoken references in some private industries.

  7. L'étrangère*

    Ouch. The problem here is that the OP isn’t looking for a job, the student is. So too much impatience with the HR nincompoop can easily ruin the student’s chances. So yes, I’d do as Alison suggests and send an answer by email, emphasizing how great they think the student is. But I also see the OP’s responsibility to the student here. If I was the student, I’d find it very helpful to hear that the reference process didn’t go smoothly, that the HR person seems way out of bounds. So they know not to expect a smooth process if they get hired, not to consider their weird demands normal. So they can weight whether the people they’d actually be working with are good enough to endure that, and much later why they put up with such an incompetent (do they even know?). Whether the inconvenience of an HR person who might screw up everything from an offer to the payroll, their vacations, their expense reports etc is worth it for the job/the other coworkers. Is this the only HR person in the company? There are many things to consider here, and the student would benefit greatly from just a rundown of possible questions, in my opinion

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Yes. The candidate deserves a heads up from OP that this is not normal, this is intrusive, insulting and ineffective.

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      Honestly, I’d also want to give the student a head’s up, because presumably OP isn’t their only reference, and it is very possible another reference was far less patient than OP!

      I’d have trouble keeping my opinions to myself to this reference checker, honestly. This is an all around terrible practice.

      1. Sara M*

        Please be clear that none of this is the student’s fault. People new to the workforce sometimes blame themselves for things they couldn’t have known. (Because they assume they somehow should have.)

        1. References LW*

          LW here: I did end up telling the student and tried to make it very clear I was not frustrated with THEM, or pass judgement on the employer, beyond “in all honesty, this was frustrating but my impression was that it was disorganization on their part and nothing to do with you.”

          1. Sara M*

            Thank you! The effort is important. Some students wouldn’t ever think it was them, but some might.

  8. qwerty*

    Sounds like whomever is doing the hiring pawned it off to an admin who was given a list of questions and told to contact references and get the answers.

  9. Dawn*

    Sounds like maybe they just roped someone randomly into the job, and someone used to dealing with students/entry-level candidates at that.

  10. Katie*

    Just ignore the email if you want. I would have hung up after being placed on hold more than a minute or two. You want ME. Not vice versa.

    1. ferrina*

      Except that the reference checker doesn’t want LW– the student wants the job. Unfortunately that means LW is dealing with Terrible Reference Checker (who doesn’t seem to have any interest in LW at all).

      I’d put up with it for the sake of the student (who did nothing to deserve this madness). Then I’d leave a Glassdoor note about the interview experience (being clear I was a reference).

  11. Jinni*

    In the last couple of years, I was asked to do an online form for someone as a reference. I completed it because she’s a great employee, BUT it was about forty or fifty questions of the – on a scale of 1 – 10, how would you rate them on punctuality, etc?

    I’d have much preferred a phone call – assuming these were not the questions. But, to be frank, I couldn’t really answer the questions as the work we did together was not a structured, punch-in, punch-out situation. It was a creative and logistical endeavor. I did give her a 10 on all though because what was the alternative?

    So not only was it a PIA, but it wasn’t really relevant to the job she’d done or was going to be hired for, but was standard for the corporation. I’m not sure anyone was helped by it. And after reading this, I have to wonder how this helps the employer evaluate this student.

    1. References LW*

      LW here: I’ve done both verbal and written and I’m very torn. The 50+ question written references also feel a bit offensive tbh – they’re just so demanding! Until this call, I would’ve said I preferred verbal, but if someone is going to write down every word I say… just ask to record or ask me to write it? It seemed like the worst of both worlds, I guess.

      You hit on another point I didn’t even cover here: the new role would require 1-2 highly specific technical skills that I believe the student has, but weren’t something used at all in our work. I made that abundantly clear to the reference checker (and also have suggested the student find someone in the future who can better speak to those, since they’re very relevant), but I sort of felt like it didn’t land? Like I would say “unfortunately we didn’t use software X in our company, so I can’t comment on that” and she would slowly say “okay so, you didn’t use software x… so you can’t comment on it … is that accurate?” Which is fine but after that happened a few times, it was like … yes.

      1. arthur lester*

        Ooh, yeah, with that detail this sounds very much like a general HR person trying to hire for a technical role and trying to make sure they have the information necessary for the technical hiring manager. I work in software and it is so common to have a lot of points of contact who don’t know anything about what’s going on, or which skills might be cross-applicable, or anything– this sounds a lot like that sort of situation.

  12. Dana Lynne*

    Yeah, as others have said I bet this was a low-level employee who has a script they must follow when checking references. This employer has handed off the reference check to someone who has no idea how to do it. Also a mistake because a good, qualified person who is actually part of the hiring process will do a much better job and collect much better info. Dumb decision on the part of this company IMHO.

  13. HonorBox*

    I know that not all reference checks are the same and some industries and businesses require specific boxes to be checked. I spent 9 minutes on the phone with a reference for a higher level job we were filling and just shared the overall insights with my boss. It was a way for us to know that what we were seeing was what we were getting. Yes not all are like that but I wouldn’t have considered asking someone for 30 minutes of time, nor would I have put them on hold or called them back because I forgot about a meeting.

    I know the fear is that not completing a reference fully may be reflective on the student. But multiple phone calls, long pauses while answers are typed verbatim (and are they really? Can the person honestly remember everything that was said for a full 2 minutes of typing?), and being put on hold? That’s quite unprofessional and downright rude.

    I would reply to the email with a succinct, glowing recommendation and forward a copy to the student. That way they know exactly what was said and if something comes up about a reference that wasn’t complete, they’ve got documentation of what was said. Don’t point out the failings in this email… but strongly consider a follow up with the company at the point the student gets the job. This is entry level for crying out loud. They need to understand that what they’re asking for (either always or in this reference checker’s circumstance) is not respectful. Your duty is to help the person get a job and let the company know more about them. Not help write their biography.

  14. RCB*

    This is so incredibly common amongst reference checkers, especially government jobs here in DC. I get reference requests all the time and the bureaucracy is mind-numbing! They demand their own form and that I have to answer all of their answers and I have to often tell them “You aren’t doing ME a favor by going through this process, and you don’t get to demand answers from me.” I can tell that a lot of people don’t push back because they don’t usually know how to respond, but I hold firm and they take it or leave it. I especially do this around salary, I will never confirm someone’s salary when they worked for us, because it’s no one’s business, and more often than not it is used to hold down wages of someone in their next job.

    1. Ialwaysforgetmyname*

      My favorite is the 3rd party reference checkers who leave you a VM, are impossible to call back, but who keep leaving VMs.

      1. References LW*

        LW here: omg why is this a thing? I actually had ANOTHER draft to AAM months ago about a reference checker I was stuck in a game of phone tag with because everything was “call me back” and then was never available and never left details in VM.

  15. Looper*

    I would give heads up to the intern just so they have more info on this employer/their application process. The reference checker may be a one-off ding dong that isn’t a true reflection of the employer as a whole, but I would want to know about something like this while job searching, if only as helpful info if I have to make a decision between multiple offers.

  16. Ialwaysforgetmyname*

    I once had a similar experience when trying to provide a reference for an outstanding coordinator (that I very much wanted to keep but could offer her no more career growth until I left and so wanted to provide a glowing recommendation). The reference checker was disorganized and rude at best, I eventually had to say that I couldn’t spend more time with her.
    She responded by calling my boss the next day and filing a complaint, saying that I should be fired (!!). Thankfully my supervisor asked for my side and immediately dropped it.

    1. References LW*

      Ironically I actually brought this up with my boss in passing (she used to work in HR) and she was way more offended than me, or even Alison and was like 100% you should’ve hung up the first time, lol.

    2. 15 Pieces of Flair*

      I rarely think reaching out an organization specifically to complain about an employee is justifiable, but this reference checker definitely needs a formal warning at minimum. Trying to jeopardize someone’s employment because they didn’t do what you wanted is a serious and malicious act.

      1. Ialwaysforgetmyname*

        I seriously thought about doing that because I spent several days fuming over the situation but eventually decided to let it go.

  17. 15 Pieces of Flair*

    Alternative option: Contact the candidate and let them know that you’ve had a strange experience with the reference checker. Ask if they have the hiring manager’s email and, assuming they do, whether they would be okay with you reaching out to the hiring manager directly. While this takes a couple steps, emailing the hiring manager ensures your reference is received as intended and flags a situation that’s negatively impacting their hiring process. As a people leader, I would want to know if our reference checks were onerous.

  18. Cranjis McBasketball*

    “Send an answer over by the end of the day”? I would happily done that – then angrily wondered why that wasn’t an option all along! Then I would’ve written my answers at my convenience (and faster), and the checker could’ve just copied/pasted my answers.

  19. Ginger Cat Lady*

    Seriously companies need to rethink what they are asking of references.
    I was once asked to be a reference, I agreed, and they sent over the form. 50 questions, they wanted 2-3 sentences per question AND a 500 word essay at the end about why I thought they were right for the job.
    I emailed the person who sent the form, asking if we could do a quick phone call instead, and she replied “Why? It shouldn’t take you longer than an hour or two!”
    And no. Just no. I do not owe some company I don’t work for – and don’t even want to work for – 2 hours of my time on a 24 hour turnaround!
    I see lots of people in this thread saying things like “I’m required to do all this!” and I’ll repeat: Your company process must not obligate references to spend a lot of time – or it doesn’t work.
    This is right up there with the idea of companies demanding big projects out of applicants. Probably worse, since references are not even trying to get a job there.
    And FYI: Asked my former coworker how badly she wanted this job, she said it was a low priority for her, so with her blessing I skipped it.

    1. Ialwaysforgetmyname*

      I would love to meet the person who thinks it is a good idea to request 500 word essay from references!

  20. Nebula*

    Are there any good reference checkers out there? I swear every time I’ve started a job, there’s been an issue with references. It’s always that the HR department of whatever organisation I’m joining claims my references didn’t respond, and then when I get in touch with them they say that they were never contacted or that they did complete the reference, which magically appears when I get in touch with HR again and relay this info.

Comments are closed.