Home » No Job Offer After Reference Check: What Could Have Gone Wrong?

No Job Offer After Reference Check: What Could Have Gone Wrong?

Reference checks are usually carried out during the last phase of the recruitment process. Once you have cleared one or two rounds of interviews, your employers will ask you for references if they have not already done so when you first applied for the job.

It indicates that the recruiters are more or less satisfied with your interview performance, and now they want to get to know you better through your references. Everything seems fine here, and if your recruiters ask you for references, it is something to be hopeful about.

And yet, you get no calls saying you were selected. Or to appear for the next phase of the recruitment process, if any. And this may leave you frustrated. It could compel you to do all hasty things like frantically call your recruiter or lose focus on applying for your next job.

Rather, it would be a much more worthwhile use of time if you could analyze what may have gone wrong and why you did not get an offer, even after a reference check. It will prevent you from making errors while applying for other jobs in the future.

How Much Time Does It Take For a Reference Check?

How Much Time Does it Take For a Reference Check?

Firstly, you must know how long it usually takes to respond after a reference check. It’s important that you do not get frustrated.

It could take three to ten business days to get back to you after a reference check. If the employers are urgently looking to fill a position, and everything goes smoothly, they may get back to you in a few days.

On the other hand, if they are considering quite a few candidates, they will need time to review everyone’s references. Other factors, like being unable to contact a reference or dealing with fake references, can also take longer. Some employers also try to conduct background checks simultaneously, which could take some time.

Hence, it’s best to wait a fortnight before contacting the employers. You will have a valid reason for contacting them. After that time, you may call or email them about your recruitment status.

What Could Have Gone Wrong After Reference Checks That Employers Did Not Offer You a Position?

If your recruiters did not contact you after a reference check, there is no way of knowing what could have gone wrong. Unless, of course, you ask them. However, they may not be willing to give you a direct answer or just tell you to be patient. Here are some possible reasons:

1. Unable to Contact Reference

Unable to Contact Reference

One of the foremost reasons for delays or no contact after a reference check is that your recruiters were probably unable to contact them initially. Maybe your reference was out of town or did not answer the call or reply to the email.

It might give your employer the impression that the reference is not professional or reliable, and by extension, they may consider you the same as well because you listed them as a reference. If they could not contact your reference after a few tries, they probably just gave up and did not contact you either.

2. Anomalies in Reference

Another reason why your recruiters may have yet to contact you after a reference check is that they found anomalies with your reference. For example, maybe the position in which your reference works were exaggerated, or some names and contacts did not exist.

Recruiters will consider them fake references and form a poor impression of you. They might remove your application and decide not to contact you.

3. Your Reference Was Not Cooperative

Your Reference Was Not Cooperative

When you cite a reference, you usually do so because you believe the person will paint a positive picture of you when your recruiters call. You trust them to give an unbiased opinion, but unfortunately, they disappoint.

They may say something negative about you or may not highlight the qualities that make you a good employee. It’s why choosing your references with care is extremely important. You do not need them to exaggerate about you.

But they should at least have your best interests in mind when speaking neutrally about your positive traits. Hence, don’t list anyone as your reference if you have ever had a professional rivalry in the past or with whom you did not get along well.

4. Preference to Other Candidates

A common reason why many applicants do not hear from recruiters after a reference check is that they have simply decided to go ahead with other candidates.

Some employers may inform you that you weren’t selected, but others will not. It usually happens when employers consider multiple applicants, but fewer open positions exist.

They consider all the aspects of the interview and the references they were most impressed with and then they decide. Naturally, not everyone will be selected, and you may be one of them.

5. Internal Delays

Internal Delays

Internal delays are common in every organization. One of the recruiters may have fallen ill or some data may have been misplaced. There could be multiple reasons, none of which may have anything to do with you.

Yet, this could cause delays, and it may take your employers longer than usual to reach out. If it’s something too severe, and they don’t consider you for the position, they may not contact you.

6. Your Social Profile

As mentioned, some companies also conduct background and reference checks before finalizing a candidate. In such cases, they may also check your social media.

While your professional qualifications and expertise are of primary importance, employers will also try to determine what kind of person you are to determine whether you will fit in with the company. They may want to know about your habits, beliefs, and ethics.

For example, if you have pictures of you partying drunk all night on your social media, then not getting a call after a reference check is not surprising. You should clean up your social media accounts if you find a pattern of recruiters not contacting you after doing a reference or background check.

How to Follow up After a Reference Check?

How to Follow up After a Reference Check?

Once you have waited for about two weeks to get a call from your recruiters after the reference check, you may reach out to them to ask about the status of your application. You can call or send an email.

Refrain from grilling your recruiter with too many questions about the delay. Be courteous while asking and state a reason for reaching out. You may say that since you are excited about this position, you are curious to know about the status of your application.

However, at the same time, make sure you don’t sound desperate because this is your only offer. If the recruiter tells you to wait a few more days, thank them for their response.

Do the same if they tell you you were not contacted because you were not selected. Refrain from trying to challenge their decision and carry on with your job search.

Things You Can Do to Increase Your Chances of Selection After Reference Check

While good references alone will not guarantee your selection, here are some things you can do to increase your chances after a reference check.

  • Always cross-check the contact details of your reference. Please make sure they are recent and updated.
  • Always ask your references before listing them on your resume. The last thing you want is for your reference to speak rudely to your recruiter because they were not informed.
  • Always mention the time of contacting your references. You want your recruiters to be able to talk to them even if they are not free to talk at a particular time of the day.
  • Refrain from citing anyone as a reference if you are unsure whether they will sabotage your recruitment by bad-mouthing you.
  • Never cite fake references assuming your employers will not find out. They have multiple channels of communication, and the truth will come out. Even if you are hired, you may be fired later.
  • Give your reference time to know about you so they can speak about your qualities to your employers. Update them about your recent work and projects so that they can form a better opinion and speak likewise to your employer.


Not getting a job offer after the entire recruitment process can be disheartening. But that does not mean that you stop looking. Instead of waiting two weeks to hear from the recruiters, use this time to prepare yourself for the next interview.

You can also learn from this episode and update your reference list before sending the next application. Once you do land a job, remember to thank your references. Knowing what could have gone wrong will help you prevent those mistakes later.