Nice to meet you.

Enter your email to receive our weekly G2 Tea newsletter with the hottest marketing news, trends, and expert opinions.

Online Reference Checking: Add More Insights to your Hiring Process, Plus Time-savings and Compliance

July 30, 2018

With unemployment rates at record lows and the competition in the labor market getting more intense, employers might be tempted to fast-track their hiring and skimp on proper vetting of candidates.

A word of advice: Resist temptation.

The cost of a bad hiring decisions can be many times the salary for a given job role when you add up recruitment and advertising fees, disrupted projects or performance goals, and potential harm to team morale.

One of the best ways to improve your hiring process is to learn more about a job candidate’s past performance. This information can best be gained by checking a candidate’s references.

Why is it so important to reference check more efficiently? For one, you want to be sure that potential employees are representing themselves and their skills accurately.

There is cause for concern. A 2017 CareerBuilder survey found that 75 percent of HR managers report having caught a lie on a resume. And, an earlier CareerBuilder survey showed that 62 percent of employers say candidates embellish skill sets, while another 54 percent saw applicants embellishing responsibilities.

There are also legal troubles that you could be exposed to from negligent hiring, especially if your organization provides care to individuals or has job roles that interact and provide services to vulnerable populations, such as children or senior citizens.

Reference checks differ from employment checks or background screens. Aside from checking the authenticity of a candidate’s background, traditional screening methods provide confirmation of past employment dates. However, they provide very little data on a candidate’s skills like how they communicate, relate with others, and solves problems. That kind of information can only come from the people who worked with the job candidate in the past through a reference check.

Today, digital technology backed by assessment science makes it easy to reference check potential employees and obtain reliable data that is predictive. It’s the smarter, faster way versus traditional, phone-based checking. It also reduces the risk of bias that may occur when social media screening. With an online reference checking solution, you can reach references easily and get detailed insights that help you make better decisions to hire the best candidates. Plus, you add more compliance to your hiring process.

A modern-day approach to reference checks

There are many myths about the effectiveness of reference checking. A big stumbling block to consistent reference checking is how unpredictable the traditional phone-based approach to reference checking process can be.

It is difficult to reach a candidate’s references by phone, and recruiters are often routed to HR departments for canned responses. If you’re trying to contact several references for multiple candidates, that time can really add up. Plus, it’s hard to keep track of specific insights beyond affirmations that a candidate is a good performer.

It then takes a week or more to finally receive the information you need to move forward. In today’s competitive hiring atmosphere, that means you run the risk of losing your candidate to another firm, perhaps a competitor.

Online reference checking speeds up the process, connecting employers with more reliable and useful insights on their candidates.

It works like this: Recruiters select a job-specific survey that is relevant to the role being filled and enter the job candidate’s email or mobile number into the system. The job candidate receives an email or text that includes information to enter their job references. Their references are sent an email or text request that includes an invitation from the applicant asking them to complete the assessment. References needn’t be sitting at their desktop computer to respond, as the survey is accessible through any mobile device.

Organizations using this efficient technology have experienced an 85 percent response rate from references, and in 92 percent faster time – versus traditional reference checking. That means, reaching and getting feedback from 4-to-5 references in less than two days versus several weeks, even months. 

Job candidate data that is more reliable and useful

Digital reference checking improves the quality of the feedback you get to make a hiring decision because it provides references a confidential forum and structured format to offer more candid feedback. Their feedback, delivered through job-specific surveys designed by industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologists, helps assess a candidate’s soft skills (i.e. ability to work well with others, lead a team, leverage good social skills, etc).

References can also include their own comments about job candidates’ strengths and areas for improvement, so employers get the full picture and can tailor onboarding programs to prepare a candidate for success. SkillSurvey’s analytics team has published research showing that organizations that made the switch to online reference checking reduced their first-year turnover by 35 percent.

Features in an online reference checking solution

Here are some key things you should look for when considering an online reference solution:

  • Cloud-based: A robust tool that allows your users 24/7 access that’s easy to roll out and use
  • Mobile first: Allows access from any device, including desktop, smartphone, or tablet, and has the ability to use texting for communications
  • Scientific integrity: The surveys are valid and designed by industrial-organizational experts. Questions must be relevant and job-related, and assess behavioral competencies or “soft skills”
  • Versatility: The solution should work for all the different job roles you’re hiring for and various workforce segments
  • Seamless: Integrates easily into your applicant tracking system (ATS) or customer relationship management (CRM) software, enabling you to start tracking and managing references’ feedback.
  • Proven results and great customer feedback: Read G2 Crowd feedback here.

When you switch to online reference checking, you’ll get better, more accurate feedback from candidates’ references, and faster than ever before. In this competitive job market, digital reference checking gives you the leverage you’ll need to hire the best and brightest candidates out there.

Inserted in seeing how applicant tracking software can streamline your hiring process? Check out the best applicant tracking software according to real user-reviews.

View the Easiest-to-Use Applicant Tracking Software →

Online Reference Checking: Add More Insights to your Hiring Process, Plus Time-savings and Compliance Reference checking is a vital to ensure you are hiring the best employee you can for a position. However, making phone calls and getting generic responses doesn't help any more than not calling in the first place. Online reference checking allows for more insightful responses in a quicker fashion.
Ray Bixler Ray Bixler is President and CEO of SkillSurvey, an online reference checking technology firm that harnesses the power of references to help organizations more effectively recruit, hire, retain, and identify talent. He’s a recognized thought leader in the world of hiring, talent assessments, and job seeking with over 25 years of human resources and career development executive experience. Ray has a monthly column that runs in the U.S. News On Careers section and he’s a frequent speaker at many national HR and entrepreneurial conferences.

Never miss a post.

Subscribe to keep your fingers on the tech pulse.

By submitting this form, you are agreeing to receive marketing communications from G2.