> These days HR people have so many questions to ask references ...
Oh? Employer HR people (& supervisors) answering such questions need to be really careful (legally) about what they tell inquirers about you. I mean, beyond acknowledging that you were indeed an employee there from this date to that date, there's a narrow limit as to what is 'safe' for them to reveal about you beyond a polite conversation having little meaningful content. For all they know, the caller could be fishing for lawsuit material or could even be a stalker. So I'd of thought conversations 'these days' had become short and sweet.
> I've read that it's fine to request that your references be called only if you're being seriously considered for a job.
It's common practice on resumes to remark "references on request". You're going well beyond that imo when you're saying to would be employers: I won't give you my references until after you've given me a job interview and will only give you my references if I'm still keen on the job. Oh! And, please don't even contact my references until you're considering me seriously for a job. [My point being, that some employers make the decision to seriously consider someone by first having a chat with that person's previous supervisor. Or at least, won't have made up their mind until they've done their due diligence and checked to see if there's reason Not to consider you seriously.]
I urge you to give employers some credit for using restraint and finding better uses for their time than filling their days badgering applicants' references, unless those applicants are indeed serious candidates. To suggest they're doing otherwise is, well, insulting imo. Yes, I expect this happens at times, but I think it's misplaced to assume this is common enough for you to be laying down 'rules'.
> FYI: I never give out references until after an interview and only if I'm sincerely interested in taking the job.
Some employers might want to call references before even booking the first and only in person job interview, perhaps preceded by one or two phone interviews (as, they'd like to wrap it up at one go, and be ready to hire someone on the spot by having done their homework in advance). Clearly you have a problem with that.