I had a final interview with a small startup yesterday and now they are requesting a manager reference. I would rather not do that until I have an offer that I've accepted. What is standard practice here (if there is one) and is this itself part of the negotiation process? I think I will just tell the recruiter that I am not comfortable giving the reference out since I don't want my reference bothered.
I haven't seen this as part of the negotiation process, generally it's just a one-time logistical issue.
I'd be ok with providing the name/relationship/contact of the reference, but clarify in a tactful way that you don't want your reference contacted until you have secured an offer (that's the norm anyway). Few other options:
At the end of the day, this is an issue of trust. Presumably, if you actually may work at this company, you hopefully have enough trust with them.
clarify in a tactful way that you don't want your reference contacted until you have secured an offer (that's the norm anyway).
Secured an offer or secured + accepted the offer (after all negotiation)?
@OP, generally it's after you've secured the offer, or perhaps before (for very senior positions).
Basically, it's a way for the company to validate the claims you've made on your resume, so it's done near the end of the hiring process, but not when it's all finalized.