How Long Does It Take From Reference Check to Job Offer?

Job applicants often wonder how long it takes to receive an offer after completing reference verification. According to experts, the length of time from your reference check until you get an offer can vary.

Below are insights from professionals on the question of “How long does it take from reference check to job offer?”

Jen Wells

Jen Wells

Founder and President, TalentID Group

Reference check to job offer takes three to five days depending on the organization’s size

The timing from reference check to job offer can vary based on the size of the organization but typically lasts three to five days. At this point in the interview process, potential employers have already identified you as the right talent for their team.

The reference check is the opportunity to confirm you are the right choice and gain more insight into how you work with others, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and your overall performance and reliability.

Request for references

First, an employer will ask for your references. You should always have three to five professional references ready. Pick and choose the references you want to use based on the role you are interviewing for.

These are not friends but professional connections such as colleagues and managers. Call each reference and follow up by an email with more details about the role, why you are a fit, and why you are interested in the role.

Confirm your chosen reference has availability over the next few days to answer or return a call. If they do not have availability, consider moving on to the following reference, or this could hold up the process of getting to an offer.

Reference submittal

Send references to the individual that requested them. If available, always include the reference’s name, phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile.

Include a sentence or two on your relationship with that individual and when and where you worked with them. Let them know if your reference was a colleague or manager and if you worked on a large project together, etc.

You want to provide the individual making these calls with background information, so they understand the viewpoint and feedback from that reference.

Reference check

Employers will then call your references. The sooner they can get a hold of your references, the quicker you can get to an offer.

Related: When Do Employers Call References

Companies will ask questions about your strengths and weaknesses, if they would recommend you for the position, how well you work with others, and if you had any major accomplishments during your time of employment.

At this stage of the process, potential employers are confirming what they already believe— that you are the right fit for the role.

Official written offers are usually issued one to three days following reference calls

Once all reference calls have been completed and each reference has been spoken to, the HR team or in some cases, the hiring manager will be able to put together the final details of an offer and send it out.

Official written offers are typically made within one to three days after reference calls have been completed.

David Farkas

David Farkas

CEO and Founder, The Upper Ranks

It usually takes 2-3 days once the reference check is finished

Providing your experience is positive and you are identified as a prospective candidate for the position, the next step is to extend an offer of employment to you.

Typically, you will only receive a job offer once a reference check has been completed; this is necessary so that they can verify the experience and references you gave on your résumé.

It usually takes 2–3 days once the reference check is finished. Still, if the recruiter is busy with other immediate hiring needs, it may take a little longer to process the application.

Wait a few working days before contacting the potential employer; if you have not received an offer letter in your inbox, do not quit until you have received one.

Related: How to Follow up on a Job Application

Employers typically examine three references for each candidate, on average. It is critical that you be well prepared to deliver these well before you are required to do so to a prospective employer.

It is critical to pick the appropriate individuals and to consult with them in advance about the possibility of utilizing them as references. The background check is an important part of the pre-employment screening process since it reduces the likelihood of hiring potentially harmful or dishonest individuals.

Hiring the incorrect individual as a result of a hurried or ineffective background check can result in a loss of productivity for the business, as well as the filing of an unwarranted lawsuit.

Job applicants have contacted me after hearing that their references were being checked, but they never received a job offer as a result of their efforts.

Even if the prospect has excellent references, the hiring team will review the whole interview process as well as all of the other candidates to determine who is the greatest match.

Christopher Liew, CFA

Christopher Liew

Creator, Wealth Awesome

In most cases, it takes at least two days for a hiring officer to finish the reference check process. However, this isn’t a guarantee that the employer will instantly contact you in the next two days.

You have to consider the possibility that the hiring manager is screening at least 118 applicants simultaneously. To get the best results, you need to put a maximum of three references in your resume accordingly.

Related: How to Properly List References on a Resume

It takes at least 58 days before you can receive a job offer from the company

Even if the hiring manager does not read 75% of resumes submitted by the 118 applicants, surprisingly, there will still be at least 29 different applicants for the same job position consequently.

This means that before a hiring officer can decide who will join the company, it would take at least 58 days before a decision can be made accordingly.

The hiring process can be done more quickly depending on the competency of the applicants of the company or depending on the timeline to fill the position consequently.

Adriana Herrera

Adriana Herrera

Founder, InterviewDestiny

On average, between 24 hours to three days after finishing reference checks

There are five variables that influence how long it takes to go from reference check to job offer:

  • The seniority of the position
  • If the hiring manager is an HR role or a hiring manager that runs a department or team
  • How busy the reference is (and how eager they are to help)
  • How many people need to sign off on the final written job offer
  • If the job applicant has competing offers

These variables influence how long it takes to get a job offer after a positive reference check.

Scheduling and completing reference checks generally take three to ten business days. Usually, once the hiring manager has completed reference checks and written a job offer, the offer is turned around to the job applicant in 24 hours to three days (depending on who has to sign off on the final offer before it is presented to the job applicant.)

Typically, the only thing that influences hiring managers to move faster is when a great job applicant shares that they have a competing offer they are considering and shares a decision-making timeline.

Jessica Lim

Jessica Lim

HR Manager, MyPerfectResume

It normally takes 2-3 days, but it’s safer to wait five working days

It usually takes between two to three days, but it’s always safer to wait five working days before receiving an offer. However, it might take longer in some cases, so there’s no reason to panic if the answer takes longer than expected.

If you haven’t received a response after five working days, you should contact the recruiter and ask for an update. Maybe the recruiter is busy with another immediate hiring or couldn’t get a hold of your referral.

Related: How to Follow up with a Recruiter

Whatever the case might be, it’s important to show the recruiter that you are interested in the role by asking for updates when needed and not waiting only to be contacted by them.

If you are currently employed while waiting for a job offer from a different company, just to be on the safe side, do not resign from your current job until you’ve received and signed an offer.

Magdalena Wojdat

Magdalena Wojdat

HR Business Partner, Spacelift

The candidate will be contacted in 1-3 working days

Usually, reference checks are done by the end of the recruitment process. It does not guarantee the job, as it’s just due diligence to ensure that the candidate possesses the skills and experience they claim to have.

Often recruiters are left with just a handful of candidates, and even that is a stretch that they check for references. Meaning that once the reference check is complete and the response has been satisfactory, the candidate will be contacted in 1-3 working days.

It’s great to show interest and initiative and contact the recruiters for a follow-up; however, there is no need to bug the recruiters if you know that your previous employers have been reached. Allow them to go at their pace, stay patient and confident.

If there has been no follow-up for a week since your background was checked, it’s appropriate to send a friendly email or give a quick call to the hiring manager.

Ian Hopfe

Ian Hopfe

Creative HR Consultant, Little Blue House

It depends on the size and type of the organization

The size and type of an organization may affect the job offer speed.

  • If it’s a government, government agency, or very large corporation – The time frame from reference check to job offer could be weeks or months.
  • If it’s a small organization, small business, or independent franchise – They may not even do a reference check, or it may only take a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days.

Karl Hughes

Karl Hughes


A day is needed to assess whether an applicant is a good fit after checking references

I usually call references the day after I interview a job candidate, depending on which day of the week it is. References are harder to get a hold of after regular business hours.

So, if an interview takes place on a Friday afternoon, I will likely wait till Monday before calling the references.

Once I’ve completed speaking with the reference, I will take a day to decide whether or not this candidate is a good fit. If I know that the candidate will likely accept the offer, I usually prepare some paperwork beforehand to save us both time.

Daniela Sawyer

Daniela Sawyer

Founder, FindPeopleFast

It usually takes 2 to 3 days to check references and call the candidate. This is not as fast a process as candidates feel. There are a lot of references to the hiring manager or recruiting team. They sort them so that they can get the best candidate.

Sometimes it takes more than a week to call a candidate

Sorting takes time. After sorting, they recheck if everything is okay there. When they get the perfect reference, they try to reach the candidate. Sometimes it takes more than a week to call a candidate even though I have a perfect reference.

It depends on how the company recruits new candidates. If the company is fast enough and needs urgent hire, someone can get a call the next day. Candidates should be looking for options and should not be waiting for a single result.

If they don’t have any other offer from other companies, they may contact the recruiters after a week getting no call, and calling before a week may be faster than the company wants.

Alex Alexakis

Alex Alexakis

CEO and Founder, Pixel Chefs

Reference check process

A basic reference check requires contacting past employers, supervisors, and other contacts listed to verify crucial information and learn more about a candidate’s history and experiences.

When in the hiring process does it occur?

Many businesses consider reference checks to be the final stage in the hiring process, and they only do it for their shortlisted candidates. Hence, when they’ve made a recruiting choice, the employer then starts to conduct the reference checks.

It can vary depending on the number of shortlisted candidates

The reference check usually takes up to 2-3 days. This can vary depending on how many shortlisted candidates are to be verified and on the number of references to be cross-checked for each candidate. After this is done, a job offer would usually be presented the next day.

If one does not receive any letter within three days after the background checks are completed, they may call up or send an email to their relevant recruitment officer.

Kevin Daly

Kevin Daly

Marketing Manager, Zevo Health

Expect it to take about 3-4 weeks from reference check to job offer

This depends on your qualification, experience, and the current market demand.

First, you have to understand the hiring process of a particular company. Many companies, especially the large ones, follow a detailed hiring process. It usually involves many rounds of interviewing and screening candidates.

The screening may involve several reference checks and drug testings.

The reference checks also include checking if you have any criminal records. After all the screening is done, the company usually comes up with a short list of the most qualified candidates.

This is when the actual job offer is made. Since this is such a long process, you can expect it to take about 3-4 weeks from reference check to job offer.

Dean Kaplan

Dean Kaplan

CEO, Kaplan Collection Agency

It usually takes a few days to verify references

It typically takes us a couple of days to check references. If a candidate knows their references have been tagged, it usually means they are our first choice for the job.

We don’t go through the trouble of checking references for candidates who have not impressed us during the interview. It’s not normally necessary for candidates to chase us up.

If it’s more than a week after their interview and they still haven’t heard from us, they could contact us and politely ask if we have any further questions or clarifications regarding their application.

Ouriel Lemmel

Ouriel Lemmel

CEO and Founder, WinIt

It can sometimes take two weeks

In my experience in the hiring process, it can sometimes take two weeks after we check references.

Hiring qualified people in my business will take longer than, say, hiring a barista. After the initial interview, we will still be in the process of seeing other people, and when we know who we like, then we will check references.

It may take some time for those people to get back to us, and then we have to quaint ourselves with the potential candidates, and the team has to decide. It’s all so we can make sure we get the best most qualified candidate for the job.

George Beatty

George Beatty

Founder, Problem Property Pals

It depends on the time required to check the provided references

The time from a reference check to a final job offer usually depends on several factors. These factors include the time required to check the references provided.

It shouldn’t take more than 2 to 3 days in a smaller organization. In contrast, a company operating at a larger scale might take 1 to 2 weeks. This is because approval from managers at different levels might be required.

Do not panic, though, because companies requesting references are most likely to hire you. If you don’t hear from them in your expected time, you can go ahead and follow up in regards to the official offer letter.

Grant Aldrich

Grant Aldrich

CEO and Founder, Online Degree

Depending on how established the business is, it can take anywhere from one week to two months

The more established the business, the more quickly they can process new hires because they’ve developed a system for quick additions. They can usually find the right applicants, interview them, and give job offers within one week if they’re doing the majority of their interviews in one day.

On the other hand, new businesses need to make adjustments to their finances, create spaces within their organizations, and develop lasting processes.

David Patterson-Cole

David Patterson-Cole

CEO, Moonchaser

Five business days is more than enough time

Typically the reference check happens when most everything else is already squared away.

A company isn’t likely to bother the references unless they know the candidate has a strong possibility of being hired, and in many cases, it’s little more than a formality.

If you haven’t heard back from the company a week after you’ve submitted your references, call them and ask what you can do to help. Perhaps they’ve had trouble contacting someone or are confused by the information.

Other times the recruiter’s just been busy with other things and needs a little kick to get them going. But a week (or rather, five business days) is long enough to get it done in virtually all cases.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How can I prepare my references for the reference check process?

To help your references provide the best possible feedback during the reference check process, consider the following tips:

– Advise your references that they may be contacted by the employer
– Provide your references with a current copy of your resume and a brief overview of the position you have applied for
– Discuss any specific skills or experience you want your references to highlight
– Thank your references for their support and keep them informed of the outcome of the hiring process

Always ask permission before listing anyone as a reference, and choose people who can speak positively about your work and character.

What if one of my references gives negative feedback?

If one of your references gives negative feedback, it may affect the employer’s decision. However, it’s important to remember that employers usually consider several factors, such as your interview performance, resume, and other references, when making a hiring decision.

If you’re concerned about a particular reference, you should discuss the situation with the employer and provide context or an explanation if necessary.

Selecting references who can speak positively about your work and character is also a good idea to minimize the risk of negative feedback.

If a reference provides negative feedback, maintain a professional attitude and continue your job search. Learning from the feedback and focusing on highlighting your strengths in future applications can increase your chances of success in getting a job offer.

Can I still apply for other jobs while waiting for a job offer after a reference check?

Absolutely! It’s a good idea to continue applying for other jobs while you’re waiting for a job offer, as there is no guarantee that you’ll receive an offer from the employer conducting the reference check.

By keeping your options open, you’ll increase your chances of finding a job that matches your career goals and preferences.

Continuing your job search during this waiting period will also help maintain momentum in your job search and ensure that you don’t miss out on other potentially suitable opportunities.

While it’s important to remain optimistic about your ongoing application, keep in mind that hiring processes can be unpredictable, and it’s always wise to have a plan in place if things don’t go as expected.

Do all companies conduct reference checks?

No, not all companies conduct reference checks in their hiring process. However, it is common practice in many companies to check references to verify an applicant’s work history, skills, and qualifications.

Companies may have different hiring policies and procedures that may or may not include reference checking.

Some organizations use other methods to evaluate applicants, such as background checks, skills assessments, or additional interviews. Smaller organizations or startups may have less formal hiring procedures and do not conduct reference checks.

However, it is always a good idea to provide references when applying for a job, as many employers use this step to gather more information about applicants and make more informed hiring decisions.

What happens if references do not respond?

If your references do not respond or are unresponsive when contacted by a potential employer, it may delay the hiring process or hurt your chances of getting a job offer.

Employers may interpret non-responsive references as a lack of professionalism or willingness on your part. However, there are some steps you can take to address this issue:

Contact your references: Contact your references and politely remind them that they may be contacted by the employer. Check to see if they have received any calls or emails and ask them to respond promptly.

Provide alternative contact information: In the event that the employer cannot reach your references due to incorrect or outdated contact information, make sure to provide updated information. This will ensure that the employer can contact your references without difficulty.

Offer additional references: If your initial references cannot be reached, you can offer the employer alternative references who can vouch for your work experience, skills, and character.

Inform the new references of the situation and ask their permission before providing their contact information to the employer.

Communicate with the employer: Keep the employer informed of any issues with your references and let them know you are actively trying to resolve the problem. This will show your professionalism and commitment to the hiring process.

Remember that proactive communication and thorough preparation of your references are critical to avoid any potential delays or problems at the reference check stage of the hiring process.

Should you thank your reference after you get the job?

Yes, it is both polite and highly recommended to thank your references after you get a job.

Your references have taken the time and effort to speak on your behalf and provide the employer with valuable information about your work experience, skills, and character. Your positive feedback may have played an important role in the employer’s decision to hire you.

A heartfelt thank you note email, or phone call expressing your appreciation can help maintain your professional relationships and show your gratitude for their support.

In your message, you can mention that their endorsement was instrumental in getting you the job and that you truly appreciate their support.

Remember that maintaining positive relationships with your professional network is critical to your career advancement, and a simple gesture of gratitude can go a long way toward fostering those connections.

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