The Interview

Choosing and listing references

References, people who can speak positively about your skills and dedication, are an important part of your internship search. When a potential employer asks for your references (a list of names and contact information for each), it is a very good sign. References are not always contacted by all employers — even after you provide them.

It is important for you to think about three people who could serve as references even before your interview— because often immediately following an interview, an employer will ask for your list of references.

Selecting references

References can be current and past employers, co-workers, professors or high-profile individuals within the particular profession or industry.

Select your references carefully. References should be prepared to convey your dedication, quality and professionalism. Also, remember that references are almost always contacted by telephone. With this in mind, whenever possible, select references that will come across as positive and enthusiastic in a phone conversation.

Reference preparation

When references are a part of the selection process, they become a valuable resource in helping you to stand out from the competition. In order to help the people who are your references, make sure they have a current copy of your resume and cover letter, in addition to a copy of the position description.

If possible, do not give your reference list to the hiring manager at the interview. Upon request, say you will provide the list within 24 hours, allowing yourself time to contact the references in advance of the employer’s call. This way you can prepare the references by explaining the interview process to date and advise them on what key areas of your strengths you want them to emphasize.

References that sell

Upon submitting your reference list to the employer, explain your relationship to each reference and write a statement describing what part of your skill set each person can address. This strategy allows you to communicate your strengths in writing yet again, now emphasizing the specific areas discussed in the interview. Review this example before creating your own reference sheet.