employment references

How to Use Performance Reviews as Quick Job References

Checking employment references can slow a job offer down, but they provide critical information employers need, so they accept that. 

How Do Employers Check References?

Employers usually check references by calling your former colleagues.

However, they often look for creative and compliant ways to check references, so you might be able to speed things up by giving your prospective employer copies of your written performance reviews.

Performance Reviews & Reference Checks Cover the Same Topics

If you get reviews, and they’ve been good to excellent, take them with you to interviews. They address many of the topics employers ask about during reference checks.

For instance, they contain:

  1. Your employment dates
  2. Your job title
  3. A description of your responsibilities
  4. A description of your performance
  5. Your manager’s name, title, and signature

As you can see, performance reviews give your potential employer almost everything they ask for when they check references, and they do it NOW.

Give Your Performance Reviews to the Interviewer

As your interview closes, give the hiring manager a file containing your reference list and reviews. Tell them you thought they might be interested in what your managers have said about you and your job performance.

They can call your professional references, you have included their contact information, but the reviews will give them pretty much the same information.

The In-Person Interview Nuances

Be sure to use a file folder, not an envelope. And write the hiring manager’s name on it.

Why? Because it’s almost impossible to hold a file folder without opening it, especially if there’s something like a confidential performance review inside it.

Conversely, it’s pretty easy to toss an envelope aside.

After you leave, trust me, they will flip the folder open and read the positive feedback you have received from past managers.

If your interview left them with doubts about your candidacy, this information will help relieve their concerns.

If they liked you, this information will confirm and help solidify their favorable opinion.

The Zoom Interview Nuances

During COVID times, you might have to email the file to them. While not as likely to be read right away, they’ll have the reference information they need if the hiring manager wants to expedite an offer.

No Performance Reviews — Yet

What if you don’t have any written performance reviews? If you’re working, it’s a good idea to ask your boss for one before you start making job applications.

If your boss doesn’t want to prepare it for you, write the review yourself and offer it to them as a draft. Ask for edits. Then copy it to your company’s form for your boss’s signature.

The Speed Reference Check

If the employer wants to hire you, your performance reviews might satisfy them to the extent that they forego further employment reference checking.

That can speed up a job offer by a week or 2.

I have seen it happen more than once.

Image: tierney
Updated January 2022

© 2010 – 2022, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 7

  1. I was really happy to receive this email from a reader last week:

    “I read your blog about bringing my performance review to the interview and I did but I didn’t make a copy for them. I missed that bit in your blog. One of the interviewers actually asked what I think my supervisor would say about me? So I said, “Well, actually I have these performance reviews for two years of my employment with X Company.” I let him read them and he was really impressed. Thanks for such a terrific idea.”

    Thank you for sharing this.


  2. Great tip, Donna. I agree. At a recent interview, a candidate brought her last performance review. Any doubt I had about the her skills on the job were assuaged by the excellent performance review. Just make sure it’s recent, i.e., if you’re still working, don’t bring an excellent review from 2 years ago but not the past year. It will make the employer wonder why you didn’t bring the last one and might conclude that your performance declined.

  3. This is a great idea since suppose you have had the same boss for the last 10 years but you obviously cannot use this boss as a reference. However, should we be concerned with any legal issues that could backfire on us from the current employer? In other words is there typically legal language that comes along with signing your performance review such that would preclude you from sharing with any outside party?

  4. Hi Aura,

    Great question.

    You would have to check the review and your company’s employer handbook.


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