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6 reasons why reference checking is more important than ever

February 18, 2022
iCIMS Staff
3 min read
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Talent acquisition teams are facing monumental challenges in today’s hiring environment. New candidates are tough to find – especially for industries like healthcare and manufacturing, which faced shortages even before the great recession. Quit rates are at record levels. Making progress on DE&I is a top priority. And leveraging people analytics is a critical part of HR’s digital transformation.

More organizations are using digital reference checks to accelerate the hiring process and make better hiring decisions. Contrary to many myths about reference checks being time-consuming or not worth the trouble, top employers are relying on digital reference checks more than ever. In 2021, SkillSurvey, now an iCIMS company, saw record growth in the number of candidates submitted for reference checks (1.8 million) as talent teams sought to make their hiring processes fast, efficient and compliant while safeguarding their organization from potential bad hiring decisions.

“Well worth the investment,” writes one SkillSurvey user on G2. “It saves my recruiters an average of 2-3 days when it comes to obtaining references. It makes the recruiters more efficient. Time that can be better spent on actual recruiting.”


6 reasons why reference checking is more important than ever

1. You can’t afford to disrupt your teams

It’s critical to make sure that the employees you bring on are going to be positive additions to the hard-working team you have in place. Many workplaces are already under stress. A toxic employee is like a bad apple and can set the stage for further staff turnover.

For example, regardless of your industry, you need people who:

  • Provide exceptional customer care or patient experience Follow important health and safety rules
  • Are excellent team players
  • Can stay calm under pressure (especially dealing with irate customers)

2. Data that can predict turnover can help you identify more candidates who will stick

High employee turnover is a vicious cycle. Reference checking can help reduce first-year turnover for cause. While it may seem like you can skip some screening steps to get staff on board quickly, you could end up having to rehire not only the new employee who doesn’t work out, but for other roles as well.

3. Reference checks can help mitigate bias in hiring

Provide hiring managers and hiring teams with more data to make their decisions to counteract personal biases. Digital reference checks provide a clear, data-driven backup for your hiring decisions, providing detailed assessments on job-relevant skills.

4. A responsive, digital first experience shows candidates you’re serious

There’s nothing worse for a candidate than having a great conversation or interview and then hearing radio silence from an employer. With digital reference checks you keep the process moving and your candidate engaged and aware that references are being reached and are responding. A detailed reference report is typically available in just 1.5 business days.

“Super easy reference check process,” writes another reviewer on G2. “SkillSurvey makes reference checks quick and easy for both the prospective employee and their references. We like that prospective employees have the ability to submit their references when they are ready, and the references do not have to wait around for a phone call.”

5. Use reference insights to jumpstart onboarding

Digital reference feedback reports show the reference ratings across specific job competencies in the following areas: professionalism, interpersonal skills, problem-solving and adaptability, personal value commitment, and if relevant, managing others or leadership. References also provide comments from references on strengths and areas a candidate can improve. This provides you with specific insights to address in onboarding.

6. Reference checks do double duty by expanding your talent database

Automated reference checking can help you source new (and potentially highly qualified) talent. When candidates provide a reference to you with their application, you can automatically invite that reference to join your company’s talent pool. “In the current environment, we have to pursue all available souring options, so it’s great to have a passive system in the background to build a potential candidate pipeline,” says one G2 reviewer.


Reference checks on the rise

SkillSurvey by the numbers (2021):

  • 8 million job candidates entered
  • 500,000+ job references entered per month
  • 5% reference response rate
  • 4 references respond on average, 2.8% are managers
  • 2 days median time for reference feedback report to be ready

For more information on iCIMS SkillSurvey, click here.


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