The next time you apply for a job, you can bet that if the employer who’s going over you application likes what they see, at some point they will check out your job references. While checking out the references has always been an important part of the hiring process, these days it seems to have become even more so. It seems like some employers have started to give applicants references more importance than things like college education. Considering what’s at stake, you want to make each reference for job you supply is as good as it can possibly be.

You want to make sure when a prospective employer contacts one of the reference for job you’ve provided, they will be getting a glowing review of your attributes, job skills, and work ethic.

Most employers will wait to check the reference for job you have provided until after the interview. There are two reasons for this delay. The interviews gives the prospective employer better impression of who you are that an application form and resume just can’t duplicate. By the end of the interview the employer will know whether or not you’ll be a good fit for their team, and will use this information to decide if they should continue to consider hiring you.

The second reason the average employer waits until after the interview to check out the reference for job you provide, will be so that if something does come up during the interview, they can quickly and easily fact check with your reference. This fact checking allows them to gauge your honesty.

While each employer has their own way of handling a reference check, most tend to stick to familiar format. At the end of the initial interview they’ll thank you for coming and tell you they’re going to look into your references. Some say this to be polite if the interview has gone well. Some prospective employers will also ask what your connection is to the person you provided as a reference, which could influence the type of questions the employer asks, and the type of answer they expect in return.

Most employers expect to have to make more than one call to the reference for job your provided. The first call simply lets the person know they’re interested in speaking about you, and to set up a time for  chat. Employers know how busy references are, and don’t want them to feel hassled or stressed, which could influence the type of answers they provide.

When you decide to apply for a job, you should provide four letters of reference. Before including the letters in your application package, take a couple extra minutes to make sure the contact information is accurate and up to date.