I once applied to a job (in the US) where the search committee unexpectedly contacted one of my colleagues to ask about my job performance. This individual was not one of my references.
I had never heard of this practice before, and now that I'm considering applying elsewhere (outside of the US), I'm wondering if this is something that I can expect from search committees in Europe.
My question is similar to How do I keep my tenure track job search confidential?, but there's one main addition I'm seeking: how do I ask for confidentiality in the cover letter without sounding as if my colleagues would give them bad news? I worry that asking for confidentiality might give the impression that I'm trying to hide something about my job performance. On the contrary, I know my colleagues would say great things about me; I'm just not ready to let everyone know that I'm applying for jobs outside of the US.