Securing and Submitting Professional References

A closeup of a professional references list.When applying for a position online, you may be asked to attach a file containing the names and contact information for professional references as a required part of your application submission.  Even when a computerized online application form is not used, many job postings  specifically indicate professional references must be submitted.  If you are in an interview, but have not yet been asked for references, the topic may come up.  This is especially true if you are being seriously considered for the position.  So, what it the proper way to handle requests for professional references?

Why and who?

First, let’s look at why applicants are asked for professional references and who should these individuals should be.  Remember, to an interviewer, you are an unknown and unproven entity.  In this situation, there is always the very real risk of inadvertently making a bad hiring decision.  Contacting professional references is one way interviewers feel they can help minimize that risk.  After all, a professional reference is – or should be – an individual who can attest to your experience, skills, and integrity.

The ideal reference is someone who has seen you on the job and can speak to your work quality. They can report on how well you performed in a similar position or setting.  The interviewer would like to actually talk with a number of people who are able to confirm your employment history.  If these people are willing to stick their necks out to vouch for you, great!  He or she will feel that due diligence has been done in vetting you.  Yes, interviewers are aware you will likely provide the names of people who will (or should) say only good things.  More about that later.

Let’s look at some suggestions to help ensure your list of references is helpful rather than harmful. Continue reading

Weird and Strange Job Interviews

A scary-looking character from "Rocky Horror Picture Show" holding a handbill which reads "Job Interview Here."Have you ever been on a job interview which was, well… just plain weird?  Perhaps the interviewer asked you some very unusual or even inappropriate questions.  Or, if you are a manager or business owner who conducts job interviews, have you ever had a situation where the applicant behaved strangely or gave very bizarre answers to your questions?

Because planning, changing, or advancing your career is a serious matter, Career Lantern articles are usually written about serious topics, and rightly so.  Today, however, we’ll take a short break from all that seriousness and look at the interview process from a different, perhaps lighter vantage point.

I recently received some interesting first-hand stories on the topic of weird and strange job interviews from around the country and the contributors kindly allowed me to share their experiences with Career Lantern readers.  Some of the anecdotes are taken from interviews they conducted, and others are from times when they themselves were job candidates. Continue reading