Ever gone through an entire selection process and made it to the reference check stage only to find out that you won’t be getting the offer letter? It can be quite heartbreaking, especially after you’ve put in a lot of effort and energy into the selection process trying to “sell” yourself. Ever then take time to reflect on whether you might have messed up in the last stages, AKA, the reference check stage? We highlight three mistakes you should avoid that may have cost you that offer letter.

1. Not informing your referee in advance – Simply, referees are meant to vouch for you. They are meant to provide your potential future employer with information about your past contributions, successes, and give an idea of whether or not you would be a good fit for the role you’re being assessed for. Failing to inform your referees early in advance that they will be approached by a certain organization about a role you applied for could lead to a bad reference check or even worse, no reference check at all. Unless you’re constantly in communication with your past supervisor(s), it’s possible that they may forget you, especially if you worked with them a long time ago or are relatively new in your career journey and were maybe one of the many interns they’ve managed over the years. Always make sure the referees you have provided are informed about your anticipated career moves and the roles you are applying for so they are prepared with relevant information for recruiters and hiring managers who may approach them.

2. Providing an irrelevant referee – Your parents/guardians, religious leader, your teacher from high school….you get where I’m going, are unfortunately not suited to be your professional referees, especially after a couple of years working. Sure, they may have nice things to say about who you are as a person, but your potential employer is looking to learn more about your skills, achievements, how you relate and collaborate with others in a work setting, etc. Unless otherwise asked, the best approach is to provide someone that you reported to directly because they have a good understanding of how you approach your work, how you receive and work on feedback, whether or not you’re a fast learner, etc.

3. Being dishonest – Here, being dishonest not only includes providing the wrong referee, such as, say, your friend, but also, colluding with said person to do the reference yourself! Where this is the case, it shows a lack of integrity on your part and calls to question how confident you are about your past experiences, contributions, and successes. Did you burn bridges? Were you not a good performer? Did you lie about your past achievements? These are some of the questions that come up when the hiring team discovers that the reference check is dishonest. It’s critical to always remember that your potential employer will be able to see the quality of work you produce and gauge it for themselves once you join the organization, therefore, providing references that are dishonest will most likely backfire because they may not match up to what you do once hired.