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Before attending an interview, you should have your references lined-up and ready to
provide to the interviewer when asked.  More than just writing down names and phone
numbers of previous employers and bosses, you need to do additional preparation.  
Finding out how a former employer views you and your work history with them is vital
before providing that information to a potential employer.  Even if your memory of your
time spent there is positive, you don’t know how you were remembered or what will be
said unless you ask.

Your first step should be to contact everyone that you are considering using as a
reference.  You will want to confirm they are working for the same company and if their
phone number is the same.  If a boss has moved to another company, you can still utilize
them as a reference provided you can track them down.

When you reach a potential reference, don’t assume they will remember you and
everything about you – remind them.  Things you say during your conversation can have
a positive outcome on what they have to say about you later on.  Ask them if they are
comfortable providing you with a favorable reference and if there is any feedback they
have for you.  If you are very comfortable you can flat out ask how they felt about your
time working with them and what they would say about you if someone called to ask.

If you are not comfortable with providing a direct supervisor or boss you can use other
employees in the company that old a supervisory position.  Think of people you have
worked closely with on projects or such – they are valid and reputable people to provide
as references too.  

But if you have made it through the interview process, a reference would have to go quite
badly for it to affect a possible job offer.

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