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Some human resources professionals may think it’s okay to skip solid reference checking, but the latest technology can reduce time to hire and add value to the organization overall. One criticism is that references only provide positive feedback on a candidate. Michelle Reed, chief marketing officer at SkillSurvey, says her clients have seen honest and candid feedback using online reference checking. Today’s modern digital tech allows the responses to be confidential and aggregated into a singular report. A candidate also signs off on a waiver releasing the reference from any liability. This allows them to provide comments on areas of strength as well as improvement. Reed says this feedback helps companies get a better picture of their candidates to make more informed hiring decisions. In addition, sometimes insights for areas of improvement are coachable challenges. She says it’s better to know about these areas when bringing candidates in and incorporating that into onboarding and training plans, rather than discovering it six months later and then having to put a development plan in place. Furthermore, doing reference checks earlier in the process can be useful and predictive, she says. Relying on old-school reference checking – just checking the boxes and making phone calls at the end of the hiring process – means you’re not really looking to learn anything about your candidate. Reed says moving reference checking online helped reduce her clients’ first year turnover by 35 percent. She concludes that the success of online reference checking comes from the promise of confidentiality and knowing there is a waiver, which helps ensure that feedback is authentic.

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