You Can Automate Candidate Reference Checks, but Should You?
Two experts share the pros and cons of automated reference checking
Ask hiring managers if they enjoy conducting candidate reference checks and you are likely to see a lot of eye rolling. But, in a time when candidates cannot be accepted at face-value alone, the need to verify career backgrounds is critical.
Last year, HR Dive covered the growing concerns that many companies have about conducting reference checks, and the complexity of the process. Now, it’s time to revisit the issue and see where things are heading.
Is reference checking still important in recruitment?
A Society for Human Resource Management survey indicated that eight in ten HR professionals regularly conduct candidate references. This study also showed that the more advanced or technical a position is, the more likely it is that a candidate reference check will take place.
For unskilled labor, and seasonal and part-time jobs, however, the reference check becomes a lower priority and is conducted hastily, at best. And then, the information gathered is limited to dates of employment, eligibility for rehire, and salary — if the former employer will even complete it. The entire process is messy and time consuming.
HR Technology News: Mercer’s 2019 Global Talent Trends
Introducing: automated reference checking tech
For the sake of having a better idea of what candidates may bring to the table, along with some details about their career history, automated reference checks have become a popular choice. But employers have to adopt such tech properly.
First and foremost, automated reference checks don’t replace or mimic traditional reference checks done by humans, says Greg Moran, President and CEO of OutMatch, a company that helps employers perform automated checks, among other things.
“Automated checks imbed science into the process of learning more about each candidate using an assessment approach,” Moran said. “In each case, candidates supply the references (who must have email address access) who then answer a set of questions that indicate the fit of each candidate for the specific job role.”
HR Technology Interview: TecHR Interview with Jesse Wolfersberger, Chief Data Officer at Maritz Motivation Solutions
Completion rates are around 82% for automated reference checks, as compared to a 30% phone reference check completion rate, according to Moran.
But, the real value in these checks comes from the quality of the candidate, he said.
“Because there is no incentive to say anything negative or positive about a candidate, the reference has to be truthful when supplying information,” he said. “There’s no right or wrong answers. It’s limited to questions about candidate traits and qualities that relate to the job itself.”
Each question has been developed around underlying behavioral models and candidates are benchmarked against other candidates applying for the same job types in a large secure database.
The other advantage, says Moran, is that the entire process is branded and customized for the organization. The reference also gets a brief look at the culture and career opportunities once the assessment concludes, which may prompt them to either apply for an opportunity or refer another candidate. Opt-in rates hover around 20-30%, according to Moran.
HR Technology News: Compeat Serves Up Business Intelligence On The Fly