The HR sent me an email telling me that the interview went well. As a follow up to the interview she asked me to send her three professional references (names, professional relationship and contact information - phone and email).
As a fresh graduate (I graduated last year), I looked for every professional contact I could find. One of them is a CEO of a media startup, the other was a coordinator at a research center, and the last one was the director of my scholarship. I sent all of them to her. The job I'm applying for is related to digital journalism.
I realized my contacts weren't strong enough, and I asked myself if they would satisfy what they were actually looking for in terms of " relevant professional references", and then I asked myself if they would actually call them. So, my questions are:
1) How are they going to assess my references? Should I stress over the quality of my references? 2) Is it common that employers call the provided references and ask them about potential candidates?
( 6 months ago )
A professional reference is simply someone that you worked with, typically a supervisor, a colleague, or a direct report. Since you're also a recent graduate, it could be stretched to a professor, especially one that you had multiple courses with in your field of study. Anyone who can answer questions about your academic or work history and work ethic after working with you in an academic or professional environment would make a good professional reference.
I don't think there's that much to speak of in terms of "quality" of a reference. People who have worked with you more recently are better than people you have worked with longer ago, but both would likely still be OK.
Companies may or may not call your references. They may be OK with you giving them the names of people who could vouch for you if they were called.
I do think you made one mistake, especially if the company calls references. Typically, you ask permission of the people you want to be references before you submit their names and contact information. At this time, you will tell them about the position(s) and company(s) that you are applying to and ask if they would be willing to be a reference. Only after they accept would you provide their names and contact information.