Getting the Most Out of Reference Checks

By Adam Robinson,
September 5, 2013

Sometimes conducting a reference checks seems like a complete waste. You call the candidate’s previous employers/managers/colleagues, ask them about the candidate’s past performance and that’s it. If you were lucky, the supervisor gave you valuable insights as to the candidate’s work ethic, skill set and culture fit. But if you’re like most hiring managers, you probably didn’t get a whole lot out of the conversation other than that the candidate was a “good” employee.

So what’s the point of a reference check if you’re really not getting an honest answer from the previous employer(s)? Well, I’m not so sure there is much benefit if the old employer/manager/colleague is just telling you what they think you, as a hiring manager, want to hear. 

As a company dedicated to helping you make the right hiring decision, Hireology knew something had to be done. That’s why we partnered with SkillSurvey, an industry leader in web-based reference assessments. Relying upon industrial/organizational psychology principles and verified data to guide the Pre-Hire 360¨ Reference-Assessment, SkillSurvey brings value back to the reference checking process. 

However, SkillSurvey makes it so easy that I really shouldn’t even call it a “process.” You, the hiring manager, don’t really have to do anything. After ordering the Pre-Hire 360¨ Reference-Assessment, the candidate fills out the contact information of their references and an email is automatically sent. From there, each reference fills out the assessment (anonymously) and the results are emailed back to you. 

How is it anonymous? 

It’s anonymous in the sense that you don’t know which survey each employer/manager/colleague filled out. So let’s say four references were contacted. Each time a survey is completed, you’ll get an email with the results sans the reference’s name. This is done to ensure the reference’s privacy and encourage them to accurately evaluate their former employee/colleagues. 

Because the reference assesment is anonymous, we’ve found the response rate to be much higher than with traditional assessments – about 80 percent. This means that not only are you likely getting more insightful, honest answers, but you’re also seeing a much greater response rate than if you were just calling each reference. 

So what do you say, would you try out SkillSurvey? Not only does it help you avoid playing a game of phone tag with each reference, but the responses you get will likely be much more honest.

About the Author

Adam co-founded Hireology with the mission to help growing companies make better hiring decisions through data and better technology. Adam is passionate about entrepreneurship, donating time to a number of organizations that support the entrepreneurial cause. Adam completed his undergraduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and received his MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.