A reader writes:
Do potential employers ever check a/some/all candidates' references with no intent to present an offer to a/some/all of the candidate(s)?
And where is the reference check in relation to the rest of the candidate choosing process?
Only if they're insane. Checking the references of a candidate you have no interest in hiring would be a complete waste of time -- why would you bother? Unless you work at some crappy, inefficient company that insists that you check references across the board, this would make no sense -- and if you do, you should quit because that company is ridiculous.
Personally, I check references only post-interviews, once I know who my top one or two candidates are. It's my final step before making an offer. Candidates should strongly prefer this, too, since it protects your references from fatigue.