References should not only be used to examine you as a candidate for a position. As a candidate for a position, you also owe it to yourself to take references from your – perhaps – future boss and workplace. How else can you get a nuanced picture of the company?
Yes, you can, and you should. Perhaps you (or someone in your circle) have experienced that the boss, the colleagues, or the culture were not at all what you had gotten the impression of at the job interview. Could you have known if you had researched it?
Before you send off the application, you have already spent time researching the company via the company’s website, Google, and perhaps LinkedIn.
At the interview, you will get new information about the company, the team, and your future boss. This is the information you have to find out if it corresponds to reality. You now need to do what is most important to you, namely getting the information you need to assess whether the company is a place for you.
It may well be borderline crossing to take references at one’s future workplace – what will one’s future boss or colleagues not think?
They will probably think that you are thorough and that you want this job. There may be semi-public information available, e.g. on Facebook, you can find by searching the company name
However, you must be aware of source criticism. There are (unfortunately) groups with “All of us who hate xx company”, which does not give you a true picture.
We recommend that you use LinkedIn instead. Perhaps your future colleagues have written notices/stories about the company that can substantiate the information you have already received.
Ask – you’ll only get smarter
It is not enough to just read what employees write, as it will be a polished side of the stories that hit LinkedIn.
You can instead contact an employee from the company and ask directly. A lot of contact information can be found on LinkedIn and the company’s website. If a telephone number is available, it is easy to call an employee. If there is no telephone number, you must write to the employee via LinkedIn.
You must state the purpose of your inquiry so that the employee takes your inquiry seriously.
Not everyone checks their LinkedIn every day, so reach out to more than one employee.
Yes, of course, it depends on what you value most in your future workplace, but we recommend that you at least ask your future boss, about the culture in the team and what the employee in question values most and least about the workplace.
It is important to remember that it must be easy for your reference to answer the questions, so asking questions about strategies and work tasks does not belong here. You should have already clarified those questions for the job interview.
It depends on several factors, and above all your gut feeling. Did you get the answers you were looking for? If you didn’t, you should take one more reference.
Even if you have had a good dialogue with your reference, you cannot be sure that you and the reference will experience reality in the same way. It could be that the referee has just been given a difficult task, or that you have got hold of the boss’s best friend. We recommend that you always take at least two or three references.
You may get the referee as a future colleague, and therefore you must leave a good impression. You must ask professionally, ie. you know exactly what you want to ask and why.
No one wants to be disturbed unnecessarily, and you will get the best answers if you are clear and give the impression that you are serious and want to become their colleague. Most importantly, remember to say thank you!
When you have spoken to the references you want, you must compare your information to the information you have received from the company.
Does the hiring manager e.g. been honest about the need for a cultural change in the company, and your reference has at the same time spoken negatively about his colleagues, the reference supports the hiring manager.
You should be aware of discrepancies between the information provided by the company and your references. Don’t run away screaming just because there are discrepancies
Instead, you should return to the hiring manager and inquire about the discrepancies. In this way, you can get a nuanced picture of the company, your future boss, colleagues, and your team. It’s about your future job and everyday life, and you won’t regret knowing what you’re getting yourself into.