in Interviews

Interview Question – What sort of response would your referees give?

Interview Question – What sort of response would we get from your referees about your professional and social manner?

This question is asking you to consider the way you come across as a professional and also in a social environment. It is not asking you to  give any details as to the type of reference you are going to get back from your referees.

This tends to be a common mistake in interviews when interviewees hear part of a question and just go off at a tangent instead of answering the question that was put to them.

This is a good interview technique if the question is a controversial one that you do not wish to answer, but very poor if the question is one that you really can answer but you just had not heard the interviewer’s question.

Calm Well Spoken Professional Manner?

For just about everybody your referees need to be saying what a calm, well-spoken and comfortable manner you have professionally and also how you behave socially interacting with others when part of a team and dealing with third parties.

It is fairly easy to give an answer because in reality you do not really know what your referees are going to say about you if asked and so you cannot be misleading to the interviewer.  Take the opportunity to set out the qualities that the job spec requires.  For example if one of the requirements of the job spec is for a good communicator then you need to spell out that your reference will describe you as someone who communicates well professionally with a good analytical mind but also able to communicate with colleagues and third parties confidently and succinctly.

Sample Answer 1

“Both my references would probably say that I am a confident, well-spoken person with a good analytical mind and find it easy to communicate with lay people and explain things in simple terms.  I have the same manner when dealing with people on a professional or on a social level and this would be reflected in my reference.”

Sample Answer 2

“Both my references would be able to tell you how I interact with others, and my professional manner is demonstrated by my academic reference as well as by my reference Smiths’ Solicitors as both have seen me interacting with others in both social and business environments”.

Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a professional legal career coach (as well as a non-practising solicitor and recruitment consultant).

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at