Your professional references can make or break your chances of landing a job. Think strategically about your reference choices, limiting them to people who can strongly attest to your qualifications, personality and work ethic. Choose individuals who truly know your strengths and will say only positive things about you.

Questions a Reference May Be Asked

Eliminate from your list of possible job references anyone who you feel may not respond well to questions such as:

  • Can you describe how you know the candidate?
  • How would you rate the candidate’s skills in (a specific area)?
  • How well does the communicate work with others?
  • How well does the candidate work under pressure?
  • How well does the candidate take constructive criticism?
  • How would you describe the candidate’s honesty and integrity?
  • Can you describe the candidate’s key strengths and weaknesses?
  • How receptive is the candidate to change and new ideas and procedures?
  • If you were in a position to hire the candidate, would you?
  • Can you describe the candidate’s leadership skills?

Never use as references:

Family Members

Hiring managers generally assume that close relatives cannot give an objective view of your credentials, work history, or how you would behave as an employee. As noted by one expert, “Your family’s opinion will always be biased.”


Unless you’ve worked with or for them, friends are not going to be able to provide the kind of information that potential employers are looking for. Be honest about who your references are and how you know them.

Anyone Not Expecting a Call

Be sure to ask your references if you can use them before you do so. (While you’re at it, ask them to keep an eye out for postings and openings that may suit you.)

  • Notify your references when you are going for an interview.
  • Provide your references with your most recent resume, so they have it handy and are up to date on what you’ve been doing.

If you are unsure about your choice of professional references, or need direction at any point in your job search, contact the professional recruiters at PrideStaff Fresno. We can partner with you to help you land your next great job and set your career on the path to success in 2016.


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