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4 Reference Checks Make For Better Hiring

October 17th, 2019

Reference checking is one of the checkbox tasks HR people do because they're supposed to, yet expect little. In our litigious society, many company policies allow only dates of employment, title and last pay.

Checking the references a candidate provides is considered next to worthless. The reasonable belief is that they're only going to give you the names of people they are sure will be positive.

A whitepaper from the digital reference company Checkster suggests there's more value in checking references than HR believe. There's statistical evidence, says the report, that checking references is a better indicator of job performance than some other, more relied on, indicators such as experience. They're not as good, however, as structured interviews or peer ratings.

Phone checks take time and are cumbersome, so managers average just over two completed calls for each candidate. Checkster's research says 4 is the sweet spot. With 4 references, first year turnover is substantially lower than checking only two. And first day no-shows and involuntary turnover is cut in half.

These anonymous peer ratings, Checkster argues, should be the gold standard for reference checking. Anonymity encourages candidness and the digital aspect makes it easier to solicit and collect responses, getting to the magic 4 more efficiently.

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