Don’t underestimate how important references are to the hiring process. Even before you start interviewing, develop a mental list of past and current colleagues who could serve as your references. Your list should have former and current bosses, coworkers, and subordinates. Ask managers who have given you positive performance reviews, coworkers who have thanked you for help on projects, and people who have successfully worked under you. Never ask someone to be a reference if you don’t know for certain what he or she is going to say. If you don’t want colleagues to know you’re considering leaving, offer to provide references outside of your company or offer to provide references once you get a formal job offer. Just make sure to find out what the hiring manager wants to check. For example, if he wants to learn about your leadership style, he should speak to your direct reports.
Adapted from “How to Choose the Right References” by Rebecca Knight.