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Automated Reference Checking Saves You a Headache

The value of candidate reference checks is hotly debated within talent acquisition organizations as a step in the selection and hiring process. Advocates of reference checking claim invaluable benefits; they are able to verify a candidate’s experience and gain clarity on an individual’s performance. Naysayers insist the process is too labor intensive and minimal insights are gleaned from the referring companies. While opinions differ greatly between industries and companies, an option you may consider is subscribing to an automated reference checking tool.

Key Details

  • Most automated reference checking tools operate in a simple manner:
    • Candidates receive an email inviting them to initiate the reference check process
    • Candidates send requests directly to his or her references
    • References use a link to complete an online survey
    • Results are consolidated into a single report and sent to the hiring team
  • Reports often include a quick candidate summary as well as details such as top strengths, greatest accomplishments, and areas for improvement. This can provide relevant insights to support second-round interviews
  • Automated reference tools often include features that enable the reference to remain anonymous, which can reduce a reference’s hesitations to provide candid and thorough feedback about a candidate. Some companies have policies that prohibit their employees from providing references to outside organizations for fear of liability. The tools and processes which provide a confidential mechanism to provide the feedback could help reduce this sensitivity
  • Automating the process provides references time to prepare their feedback compared to an impromptu and unexpected phone call that often disrupts other work activities
  • Automated reference checks allow the hiring team to work in parallel on other steps in the process, thereby improving overall process efficiencies. One case study revealed a decrease in time to fill of almost eight days after implementing an automated reference check solution
  • Many tools allow survey questions to be customized per position and structured in a way that elicits better information. For example, using sliding scales instead of binary responses yield more insights. This also allows for greater scoring system credibility since it is conducted by an independent system and eliminates scoring variation within the hiring team
  • Reference fraud is greatly reduced via automation; candidates can be flagged if their references come from the same IP address


Ultimately, the decision to include reference checking in the hiring process will depend on the company culture and the unique characteristics of the position. Automated tools minimize the labor intensity and time needed to complete the process while still providing the same, if not better, information to the hiring team. Numerous companies have stated the quality of hires has increased since implementing an automated reference checking tool. Additionally, since candidates initiate sending referral links, candidates are included in the overall process and motivated to ensure timely responses.

Additional Resources

HealthcareSource: Phone-Based Reference Checking Isn’t Working: Five Reasons to Automate the Process

LinkedIn Talent Blog: It’s Time to Scrap Reference Checking – Here Is Why

Workforce: Automated Reference Checking: Better Intel in a Fraction of the Time

NPAworldwide: How Important Are Reference Checks?

Checkster: Automated Reference Checking Process: A Complete Walkthrough

RecruitLoop: The Importance of Reference Checking

Additional Contributing Author: Hayden Overly

This report is part of the Human Capital Management Minute series. To view all featured Minutes, please click here.

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Contributing Authors

Betsy Curry Director

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