It’s 10:00, do you know where your references are?

Actually, the better question is do you know what your references think of you?

Suzanne Lucas of CBS Moneywatch warns that job seekers shouldn’t take their references for granted. It’s important to evaluate the relationship between you and whomever you are listing. If you had a bad experience at a job or left a company on bad terms you might want to think twice before putting them on your contact list.

Lucas put together some actual responses that references gave when asked about an applicant:

Commenting on a candidate’s strengths in specific areas:

Oral communications: “Can I give a negative number … -1”?

Financial skills: “Well, that’s why our company had a major layoff – left her in charge of finances!”

Written communications: “You mean when she finally turned in the reports due a week earlier??”

When asked about strengths and weaknesses:

“I cannot think of any strengths, only weaknesses”

“I’m sure there must be some strengths but nothing jumps out at me.”

“Weaknesses seem to stick in my mind … I’d have to really think about any strengths”

When asked about why the applicant is no longer on the job:

“He was let go … there was a conflict with the children – he didn’t follow safety standards and guidelines.”

“I fired him! He and his buddy had some illegal things going.”

“She had been written up and she walked out on work … because she was upset.”

Lucas recommends that people talk to the people they are listing as a reference.

Have you spoken personally to every person you’ve listed as a reference? Did you ask them to be a reference or just mention that you were putting their names down? Do you have any clue as to what these people really will say?

Check out the rest of the article here. Take the time to reconnect with your references. It will help remove any unpleasant surprises during the interview process.

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