Do Employers Check References for Multiple Candidates?


do employers check references for multiple candidates

If you’re in the final stages of an interview process, and are a serious candidate for a job, there’s a good chance that the company you’re interviewing with will want to check your references.

And while a reference check is a good sign, you may be asking questions like “do employers check references for multiple candidates” and “do I get the job if they check my references?”

To that end, this article is going to help you understand if employers check references for multiple candidates, as well as answer related questions around what a reference check means for a job search.

How Many Candidates Do Employers Check References For?

thinking person

In my experience as both a hiring manager and an interviewee, employers generally check references for anywhere from one to three candidates

The best way to think about it is that employers only check references for candidates that are being considered for the job at the end of an interview process. Generally, towards the end of the process, there are only going to be a limited number of candidates that warrant the additional diligence of a reference check.

In fact, there may only be a single standout candidate, and the company may only check the references to confirm their feelings about that candidate. However, if there are multiple that they like, they may use references as the means to decide between them.

Do Employers Check References For All Candidates?

reference check

No, employers do not check references for all candidates.

Employers only check references for candidates that are seriously being considered for a job at the end of an interview process.

At the end of the day, we all have a limited amount of time. And a hiring manager and/or HR department is not going to use their limited time to call references for a candidate that they’re not serious about.

Do Employers Check References If They’re Not Going to Hire You?

reference check call

If an employer is for sure not going to make you a job offer, they won’t bother to check your references. 

In almost all cases, an employer will only check your references if you’re a serious candidate for a position.

However, note that the fact that they checked your references doesn’t mean for sure that you will be receiving a job offer.

Did I Get The Job If They Check My References?

did i get the job if a company checks my references

If an employer checks your references, it’s a good sign that you’re a serious candidate for a job offer.

However, it does not necessarily mean that you got the job. In fact, companies generally reject about 20% of references after a reference check (most commonly due to fake references).

The employer could be checking references for multiple candidates and ultimately decide that someone else is a better fit. Also, one of your references may turn out to be a bad reference that didn’t speak as highly about your abilities as you would have liked.

In my experience, you will generally find out if you got the job 1 – 3 business days after your final reference has been checked. If you confirmed that the company checked all of your references (and you generally should be providing about three – five) , and haven’t heard back after three business days, it may be worth sending a follow up to check in at that point.


Finding out that an employer is checking your references is exciting news.

It generally means that you’re a serious candidate at the end of an interview process and that a job offer may be coming your way.

However, employers do commonly check references for multiple candidates. And they do often reject candidates after a job offer.

So, while you should be getting excited when a company starts checking your references, don’t bank on a job offer until you have one in hand from the employer.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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