What to do about interview with no references?

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 2
205 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

No, I would not (as a prospective employer) rely on an “experience” reference of 6 years old.  Is the 3 yr old the most recent you have in your field?  I would definitely try to re-engage that one.  If I were you I would be more concerned with making sure I have a solid answer down pat about why I left the field and have been working outside it, particularly in a service position for an extended period of time.  That’s not something people usually choose to do voluntarily.  Plus as an employer, I would want to hear that you are firmly committed to the field and what your goals are for advancing in the field.  

Post # 4
6673 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

Throw in some character references that aren’t necessarily job-related.  When you’re a teen first starting a job you don’t have work references that are useable either.  I had stuff like the people I used to dogsit/babysit for, which has nothing to do with my career.  They can still tell the employer that you are timely, work hard, etc.  Your best friend can say what a decent human you are and your professor can say how well you did in career skills.  Just got to think creatively and you can always explain if they ask why there are no references specific to your past jobs.

ETA: if you left your past job because of shady dealings, that’s quite okay to mention if they ask.  It shows you are trustworthy as well.  And I do freely admit that I work in a school job so I can have summers off, with a laugh, then tell them the other things I enjoy about that job line.  “I chose customer service because I enjoy relating to others and giving them a helping hand as needed.  I also like how flexible the hours are so that I can pursue personal hobbies such as traveling the world, which helps me better relate to unfamiliar cultures as well”

Post # 5
1552 posts
Bumble bee

Use your current reference even though it seems irrelevant. Sometimes I even give an employer a choice of references so they can pick whether they would prefer an old reference thats relevant or a new reference that is unrelated to the job (most of the time the employer doesnt care). Unless your applying for a really high up position most employers just want to know that you have had a job and are reliable. Ive had a few problems with my references too. My most recent are from odd minimum wage jobs that were to just fill an employment gap because we move so much for my husbands work, my reference before that died. My only reference in a ‘professional’ field is from 8 years ago, and even my university professor moved 3 times since I graduated and I have no way to contact him now. I just give what I can and so far thats been fine. 

Post # 6
11 posts

What about using old co-workers? I almost alwayse use co-workers as references, because they are down in the weeds with me. It works especially well if you use a supervisor, team lead, etc. as opposed to the big boss. I’ve found the big boss can’t really speak to my work as much as someone working alongside me. This probably doesn’t apply to you, but I’ve also used old professsors. My admissions packet for grad school was made up of recs from people I knew 3+ years ago. You may have more options than you think!

Post # 7
670 posts
Busy bee

One of my best references is from a job six years ago, my last four jobs that ended in offers actually commented on how much of an amazing reference this person was to use so I keep him on the list for that reason. I’d consider giving two co-workers, two professional and two HR (for the indust ray positions where you have no references so they can confirm employment) you should be good for giving them choices. For my last two offers, HR admitted to me that they were going to hire me regardless but my references were just the icing on the cake. So I think like PPs mentioned, the checks are usually to confirm employment and that you’re not lying on your resume. If you have any public work samples (like an annual earnings report that were published that you helped work on) you might want to bring those to your interview as well. Anything you can do to show your skill, quality and work ethic would probably be stronger than any reference. 

Post # 9
2680 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

operaglove :  Are they requesting references up front? I generally haven’t had to provide references prior to receiving an offer. My current employer (a large Fortune 500 company) didn’t even do a reference check, just a background check and they prohibit current employees from proving any kind of reference.  More and more companies are getting away from reference checks because they can be a disaster from a liability and HR perspective. 

Regarding this: “The reason I left the most recent (3 year, work related) field was because there was some shady things going on (bounced checks, etc.), but I don’t want to explain that” I’ve been in a similar situation where I voluntarily left a company that was engaged in some shady stuff. When it’s come up on interviews I’ve been direct, but succinct. I usually say something like “Without going into too much detail, I had some serious concerns about some of their business practices, so I chose to resign rather than compromise my integrity or risk my professional reputation.” This explanation has always been well received. It shows that you are ethical & professional. When I’ve given this answer in interviews, the interviewer has often shared that they have had to make a similar decision in the past. 

Good luck with your interview!

Post # 10
13707 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I work for a Big Four accounting firm, and they never requested references at any point during the interview process.  I had to confirm employment with an HR contact, but no actual professional references.

Post # 11
11 posts
  • Wedding: Orange County, CA

I’m in HR, and the only employer I’ve ever worked for that required references was state government.  Private companies tend not to check references, because it can be a liability.  If anything, they’ll simply check employment and salary history.  I wouldn’t worry about it!! 

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