What is an employer's goal when seeking references?
To confirm if what you have said in your resume and have said in the interview is accurate, and if it is consistent with other's views of you.
To determine how well you will fit into the work environment, by finding out how you were perceived by previous co-workers or supervisors.
A few guidelines concerning references:
Before starting your job search identify at least three people who will act as positive references for you.
Always ask permission before giving out someone's name as a reference.
When asking permission to use someone's name, try to determine what kind of reference will be given. Does this person know you well enough to sell your good points?
If possible, have more that three people as references, in case some cannot be reached when you need them.
Try to avoid using people who hold grudges against you (e.g. the former immediate supervisor who fired you).
Do not include specific references in your resume. "References Available Upon Request" at the bottom will give you the freedom to pick and choose references according to the job.
Do not use family or relatives.
When going to the interview bring along the names, telephone numbers and addresses of your references neatly typed, so that you will be prepared if you are asked to provide them.
After the interview call your references and inform them that their names have been given out to the company "X" and tell them the name of the interviewer. Mention the position you have applied for and describe briefly what your responsibilities would be.