Reference checks are an integral part of any hiring process. But whilst many businesses dutifully request and check references, it’s often just seen as a simple ‘tick box’ exercise and in some cases, it’s skipped over all together. In actual fact, reference checks are important for more than proving a candidate’s credentials. Reference checks give you an independent insight into your candidates, ensure a proper culture and personality fit, and improve the overall quality of your hires. In this article, we’ll explain why, exploring the 5 reasons reference checks are so much more valuable to your business than you might have thought.

5 Reasons Reference Checks Are So Important For Your Business

What is a Reference Check?

A reference check is where a potential employer reaches out to a candidate’s previous employer (and sometimes personal or academic references) to verify their credentials and gain a clearer picture of who they are as a person. In order to carry out a reference check, employers request specific information and feedback about the candidate either via email, phone, or using a tool like RefNow. Reference checks are typically conducted at a later stage in the hiring process, meaning they’re only required for candidates who the employer is actually considering hiring.

5 Reasons Reference Checks Are So Important

Here’s why reference checks are more important than you might think:

Verify skill set & other information

For obvious reasons, reference checks are vital in understanding and verifying a candidate’s skill set. Up until this point, you have relied on the candidate’s word alone when it comes to their skills, experience, and working style. You might also have perused their LinkedIn profile to check their past experience. But when 34% of LinkedIn users lie to some degree on their profiles, it’s important to not take a candidate’s online CV at face value.

And though the overall interview and hiring process is effective in giving you a feel for how they work, a previous employer will be able to give you first-hand feedback and reinforce (or discredit)  what you’ve been told.

Check they’re the right fit for the job

Beyond technical skills and practical experience, a critical part of the hiring process is checking whether a candidate is the right fit for the job. This means assessing whether their personal values align with your company culture and if their working style matches yours. Reference checks are an effective way to get a more holistic understanding of a candidate’s personality, team interaction, and overall performance.

Make better hires

In the same vein, taking the time to carry out thorough reference checks is key to increasing the quality of your hires. This should, in turn, reduce employee churn, lead to a more cohesive company culture and boost employee experience.

By not only cross-checking a candidate’s credentials but also looking into who they are as an employee, you can ensure that you’re hiring the right kind of person for the position and, more broadly, your company.

Identify negatives or red flags

Understandably, no job candidate will ever want to showcase their weaknesses or dwell on previous mistakes. And often, they may talk themselves up beyond their actual abilities.

Reference checks are a crucial opportunity to learn about potential red flags or reasons why a candidate might not be suitable for the job. For example, if a reference’s responses about the candidate’s experience or skill set fall short of what you’ve been told, this will indicate that they may not be suitable for the position. And in the most extreme cases, previous employers may alert you of incidents that you might not have been aware of.

Due diligence & protecting your staff

It goes without saying that reference checks are a fundamental part of doing your due diligence during the hiring process. Cross-checking a candidate’s credibility is essential in mitigating against fraud and ensuring you preserve the integrity and security of your workforce.

Streamlining Reference Checks with RefNow

Since traditional reference checks are time-intensive, inefficient and administration-heavy, taking anywhere between 3 days to 3 weeks, it’s not hard to understand why many companies avoid or stop them all together.

Before tools like RefNow, employers would have to commit time and energy to making phone-calls or sending emails, and inevitably wait for referees to respond. This represented significant stress for HR departments, particularly in smaller companies. But it shouldn’t be like this.

With RefNow, you can:

  • Reduce your time-to-hire
  • Relieve the administrative burden by automating the entire process
  • Give yourself the peace of mind about the candidates you’re hiring

That’s why we’re trusted by 12,000+ companies including Robert Walters, Barchester Healthcare, and River Island. With a 4.6/5 rating on TrustPilot, the power of automated reference checks is clear, read our case studies. Here’s a quick look at how it works:

Step 1: Send your candidate a reference request through the RefNow Portal.

Step 2: Your candidate fills out their referee’s name and contact details. RefNow automatically sends a secure and mobile-friendly reference questionnaire.

Step 3: Download your full reference report in an average of 36 hours.

Since reference checks are more than just a fact-checking exercise, it’s important to get them right. But that doesn’t need to be at the expense of your HR team’s valuable time. Automating your reference checks brings you all the same benefits, whilst streamlining your hiring process and enhancing candidate experience. Schedule a free demo to try it for yourself.

FAQs about Reference Checks

Here are the answers to some of the most common questions about reference checks:

Do reference checks matter?

Absolutely. As we’ve seen, reference checks are an important part of the hiring process that helps to verify candidates’ credentials and ensure they’re a good fit for the position and your company.

What do reference checks look for?

Reference checks look to corroborate what a candidate has told you during the application process. They’re also an opportunity for employers to get an independent idea of what kind of person the candidate is and how they perform professionally.

Why is it important to do a reference check?

Reference checks are a key opportunity for employers to cross-check what a candidate has told them, get a better understanding of their personality, and how they perform as an employee.

Can I verify a person’s employment history with a reference check?

A reference check gives you the chance to properly verify a person’s employment history. You can validate your candidate’s previous employers and their dates of employment. Compared to a quick LinkedIn profile scan, for example, conducting a full reference check is the best and most reliable way to verify your applicants’ employment history.

If you would like to learn more about how RefNow's automated Employment Referencing software can help your organisation, reach out to us today and get your first 5 checks free.