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How to be Legally Compliant While Pursuing Diversity in Hiring

When you start the search for a new hire, two of your most valuable tools are reference checks and candidate assessments. These provide data you can utilize to determine the suitability of the candidate, and provide you with key candidate quality indicators that can inform you about their potential quality of hire (QoH).

Check out this free Quality of Hire Scorecard


Reference checks and background checks are not the same and serve different purposes. At its core, reference checking ensures that the information an applicant has presented to your company or organization is accurate and verifiable. 


Traditional reference checking can take a lot of valuable recruiter time (up to 3 hours per candidate) and bottleneck your recruitment funnel (with a 4-10 day completion time). Worse, only 25% of those checks produce valuable information beyond employment verification. 


Ensuring your team is doing the process correctly and using time-saving methods while still procuring actionable information is critical. As companies focus on DEIB, it’s important to remember the legality of what questions you can and can’t ask, and ensure your reference checking process is legally compliant.

Your Reference Check Question List

First, you need written authorization from the candidate to perform reference checks with their past or current employer(s). Next, you need to know the limitations around what you are legally allowed to ask in accordance with employment reference laws. 

Basic questions you can legally ask about your candidate:

These are the areas you can be the most direct in, to verify your candidate’s application is up-to-date and truthful. However, it may not yield much high-value information. You can ask:


  • Dates of employment 
  • Former job title 
  • Duties performed

See what the common reference checking legal issues are here.

Additional permitted reference check queries

reference checks
Using Crosschq 360, references will be asked questions aligned with the position you’re recruiting for that are prepared by IO psychologists. Once they are finished, you’ll receive unbiased responses from these former employers, managers, and coworkers about your candidates’ work styles, attitudes, and strengths in the workplace. 

reference checks

Your candidates will also take a Crosschq 360 to see if they are a good match. It allows you to not only compare the data of the candidate’s score with their references, which will be able to identify any red flags, but you can also use the report to make better hiring decisions when looking at multiple candidates for the role. 

What you can’t ask:

You aren’t allowed to ask about personal information that is irrelevant to the job itself. You are also prohibited from asking for any information that is protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which would exclude any queries about:


  • National origin
  • Race or color
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Religion
  • Age
  • Pregnancy status
  • Disabilities

reference checks
Promoting Diversity & Reducing Bias With Crosschq 360

How can you expand diversity when you can’t ask questions about what makes a candidate diverse? It’s simple. When you use appropriate reference checking tools and other recruitment technology to help blind the hiring process and deliver answers that are free from unconscious bias, your workforce will become more diverse naturally.


Crosschq is the data-driven reference checking and talent analytics platform that can help your business or organization source diverse new talent by removing unconscious bias from your hiring process. Schedule a demo of Crosschq 360 today to see how we can help your organization hire a more diverse team. 

Noelle Davis

by Noelle Davis

Staff Writer

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