How To Answer May We Contact This Employer?

may we contact this employer

One of the most commonly asked questions in a job interview “may we contact your current employer” is enough to make a candidate uncomfortable. Most job seekers don’t want their current employers to find out about their new job search. 

The inner voice screams NO!!! But a no might hurt your chances of getting hired. 

But what about the current employer finding of your new job hunt? Tough situation right!! 

Let’s find out whether you should allow them to contact your current employer during the background check and the consequences. 

This article will help you understand how to answer the most asked question about background check/reference checks

  1. May we contact this employer?
  2. How do you ask an interviewer not to contact your current employer?
  3. How do you answer may we contact this employer if you were fired?

Every job application form has a column asking for references from a previous employer. The moment you provide the contact details of your ex-employer, you authorize the interviewer to contact them for a background check. 

However, it’s absolutely okay to politely decline a request to contact your current employer. But wouldn’t that spoil your chances of getting hired? 

The answer is no. every employer/interviewer understands this. Keeping a new job hunt secret is a priority for most job seekers. They wouldn’t want to put your current job at risk. 

However, a no to the request doesn’t guarantee that they won’t contact your present employer. What if one of them personally knows your current boss/manager or colleague? Difficult situation, isn’t it?

Here is how to handle a “may we contact this employer” request.

  1. Decline the request politely: you always have a choice to decline the request politely saying I don’t want my current employer to find out about my new job hunt yet.
  2. Provide contact details of an ex-employer: you can always provide them with the contact details of your ex-employers to conduct the background checks. 
  3. Provide contact details of a work friend: Yes, we all make friends at work. Don’t we? Feel free to share the contact details of a co-worker who won’t speak badly about you. A friend in need is a friend indeed.

That being said, here are a few tips to never land in a situation like this in the future. 

  1. Always leave on a good note: People leave jobs for various reasons. I’m sure you have your reason for the job change. However, you must understand that whatever may be your reason for leaving the job, always leave on a good note. If you must resign, do so with grace. You should never spoil your relations with your employers and colleagues.  check out the best reason for leaving job.
  2. Inform them in advance: if you share good relations with your employers and colleagues and you are serious about the job change, you should tell them in advance that you will be sharing their contact details for a reference check. They should be able to put in some good words for you. 

How to answer “may we contact this employer” if you were terminated?

We often have job seekers coming to us asking this question. Something didn’t go right at work, Their employment was terminated and now they are worried that a reference check will spoil their chances of getting hired again. It happens, poor performance at work, getting fired for doing something against the company policy, occasional layoffs, etc. there are hundreds of ways of getting fired from a perfectly fine going job. 

I’m sure you have a strong reason. 

So how do you honor this request “may we contact this employer”? If you were fired?

Let’s break down the whole potentially bad review situation for you. 

  1. Will they provide negative feedback?: No, not all of them. Most employers avoid giving negative reviews. They understand the risk and consequences. In a situation where an employee is fired, most employers do not entertain reference requests. And if they decide to answer the request, probably they won’t bad mouth about you. 
  2. Speak to a friendly co-worker: I’m sure you still have a friend working there. Maybe things didn’t work out between you and your boss. It’s perfectly okay to provide the contact details of a friendly co-worker for a reference check. 
  3. Drop the job: I usually don’t recommend this but if you are in a really bad situation and don’t want your future employers to find out about it. It’s better to leave it out.


It’s perfectly okay to politely decline the “may we contact this employer” request or not provide the references until you have secured the job offer. Most employers understand the risk and consequences. And no, it won’t spoil your chances of getting hired. 

Always, have a few contacts ready to back you up. Also, remember you can not decline a “may we contact this employer” request for an employer you are not currently working with. And if you were fired, follow the tips. 

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