If you're being asked to provide references, congratulations. Most employers won't go to this stage unless they are getting close to making you an offer. This is not the time to slip up.
There is a right way to ask for a reference. And many people get it wrong.
Before we start, the time to ask for a reference is before you've even applied for the position. But, if you didn't do that, you can get it right from this point.
Identify 3-5 references. It's best to get former managers, peers, and, direct reports (if you were a manager).
Share the details of the job for which you are applying. Give your reference a copy of the job description and any research you have done on the company and position. Be sure to share your resume and cover letter with your reference. It is also appropriate to offer suggestions on what you'd like your reference to focus on when they speak to the prospective employer.
Lastly, be sure to ask your reference what phone number and e-mail address you should provide.
Don't allow your references to be surprised. The last thing you want is your reference to get an unexpected phone call asking about you.
Once your references have been contacted, follow up with them and thank them!