Ghosted After Reference Check: What to Do


ghosted after reference check

An employer calling your references is one of the strongest signs that a job offer may be coming your way soon.

However, a reference check certainly does not guarantee a job offer. And there are many instances where an employer may check your references and then go dark on you. 

To that end, this article is going to unpack what it means if you are ghosted after a reference check. We’re going to review how long it typically takes to get a job after a reference check, why you may be getting ghosted, and answer other related questions.

Let’s get started.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Job Offer After a Reference Check?

how long after a reference check to get a job offer

In my experience, you will generally receive a job offer 1 – 3 business days after all of your references have been checked.

If you’re still within the 1 – 3 business day window after that last reference check, you’re not being ghosted yet.

Generally, I would start to get concerned if you haven’t heard back for more than five business days after your last reference check (if the company hadn’t previously set expectations with you about how long the process would take).

After that five business day mark, I think you’re safe to consider yourself as “being ghosted” by the employer.

Reasons Why You May Be Getting Ghosted After Reference Check

Based upon my background as both a hiring manager and an interviewee, here are some common reasons that you may be getting ghosted after a reference check:

1. You Received a Bad Reference

can a bad reference cost you a job

Even if you think that all of your references are iron clad, there’s a chance that one of your references may have answered a question in a way that created a red flag.

I remember that an old manager of mine once decided not to hire somebody because a person’s reference expressed concern about their managerial abilities (even though they spoke glowingly about them as an individual contributor). 

So, a common reason that you may be getting ghosted is a bad reference, which could cause you a job, or at least initiate further discussion at the company.

2. The Company Is Completing the Interview Process With Other Candidates

do employers check references for multiple candidates

As I’m writing this article, I actually just wrapped up an interview process where I called a candidate’s references and then took about six business days after that to make him an offer.

In this case, the reason is that we knew that particular candidate was a strong one that we were serious about. And we also knew that he had a deadline based upon an offer from another company.

So we wanted to complete all of our due diligence on him and be ready to make a quick decision after we completed our interview with the other candidate.

So, that’s an example of the process dragging on a bit longer than expected due to still interviewing other potential candidates. In fact, a company may even decide to check references on multiple candidates.

3. Hiring Manager Leaves or Gets Terminated

I was once interviewing with a company and everything seemed to be going well.

Then, all of the sudden, things went silent and they started ghosted me. A little while later, the hiring manager reached out to me on LinkedIn to tell me that he was no longer with the company. 

So, a sudden change with the hiring manager could be another reason that you suddenly get ghosted after a reference check.

4. The Company Offered The Job to Another Candidate

frustrated person

The last common reason that you might be getting ghosted after a reference check is simply that the company decided to offer another candidate.

You might be their backup candidate so they may not want to close the loop with you until they have a decision from their primary candidate.

Or they may just to be slower to communicate now that they’ve decided on another candidate.

Whatever the specific reason, a company going with another candidate could be a reason that they start ghosting you.

Should I Follow Up After a Reference Check?

Yes, if you haven’t heard back from the company for at least three business days after they checked your final reference, it would be appropriate to follow up.

Here is a simple follow up email template that you can use for following up after a reference check:

Dear {Hiring Manager},


I hope that you’re doing well!


I’m sending this note to check in and see if you have any updates a hiring decision for the {name of role}?


I’m excited about the opportunity and would appreciate an update on where you’re at in the process.


Also, I would be happy to provide any further information that you may need to help with the decision process.


Warm regards,


{First Name}

Can You Not Get a Job After a Reference Check?

did i get the job if a company checks my references

Yes, it is possible not to get a job after a reference check.

In fact, candidates get rejected about 10 – 20% of the time after a reference check.

The most common reason for a rejection is that the company discovered that a candidate provided fake references, but there are certainly other possible reasons you may not get a job offer after a reference check as well.


Getting ghosted after a reference check can be frustrating.

You made it that far in the interview process, you’re so close to getting your job offer, and then all of the sudden the company goes dark on you.

Now, getting ghosted for a few days does not for sure mean you won’t get the job, but it definitely isn’t a great sign.

Stay optimistic until you hear definitively on the job offer. And even if you don’t get that job, stay patient, and keep marching on until you find the right fit for you.

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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