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How to Check References Via Email

Reference checks are a vital part of the sourcing and recruitment process for quality new hires. Reference checks can be conducted in a variety of ways, but one of the most efficient ways is via email.

Conducting a reference check via email is essentially just as it sounds: the standard questions and information gathering, but done through the convenience of an online, confidential questionnaire via email. 

As references must comply with state and federal regulations, as well as individual company policies around what information can and cannot be shared, it is important to do your due diligence before conducting a reference check via email. 


What’s The Difference between a Reference Check and a Background Check?


It’s important to note here that many people confuse reference checks and background checks. Both are vital parts of the hiring process, but with some key differences. 

Background checks verify resume facts

Background checks are primarily looking at issues of identity, criminal history and specifics around dates, times, place, and legal factuality. Background checks can also be conducted via email and have a specific background check email format that can be followed for optimum results.

 Reference checks confirm skills, weaknesses, and more

Reference checks function in a similar way, but seek to elaborate and expand upon a broader understanding of who the candidate is, outside of their resume. Reference checks open the door to learning more about the candidate, including  leadership skills, collaborative abilities, and unique strengths and weaknesses that speak to a more qualitative analysis.  

Reference checks and background checks combined, are extremely helpful in creating the fullest context possible when proving the validity of someone’s professional resume, skills, and attributes. 

This process of vetting a professional resume can be make or break in the hiring experience, especially when cross checking the factuality of applicant work skills and investigating the likelihood that said applicant would thrive at your company or organization, based on their unique skill sets.

Automate your reference checks

Digital reference checks, like Crosschq's 360, are by far the most efficient and cost-effective way of conducting reference checks.

Crosschq 360 removes the manual work and improves the data.

Use 360 automated reference checks to check an average of 3-5 references in less than two days. Find out the real story about your candidate without sending all those back-and-forth emails. Read more here.

Crosschq is the reference check solution of choice for many reasons. In addition to being top rated by G2 every season for ease of use, customer support and more, Crosschq's 360 also provides a seamless candidate experience. For example, 360 is unique in that it allows the candidate to have an additional voice in the hiring process. Both candidates and their references complete surveys developed by IO Psychologists, who are survey experts, to see if they are a good candidate match, thus providing a better experience for all around: candidates, references, and the recruiting staff. The end result? A good fit for all involved.

Crosschq 360 is a G2 Leader

Crosschq 360 consistently shortens time to hire by:

  • Allowing the candidate to manage their references
  • Providing a mobile experience for references to give feedback faster
  • Consolidating feedback into easy-to-read graphs and reports

Crosschq 360 automated reference checks


What Is a Reference Check Email?

First, let’s walk through what a reference check email looks like and exactly what one might expect when sending or receiving a reference check email. 

While the formatting and structure can vary, typically a reference check email consists of a brief introduction, identifying the employer, the applicant, and what to expect from the questionnaire. 

Following this brief introduction, there will usually be a link, attached document, or portal to a confidential questionnaire that is sent via email to cross reference employee data and source additional useful information for the hiring process. 

What should one write in the reference check email?


A reference check email serves as the intermediary between the potential employer and the previous employer, to ensure that a prospective employer has done their due diligence and is hiring the best possible candidate for the position. 

The best way to do this is to rely upon the information from past employers as a predictor of future behavior. 

Sample Reference Check Email

Let’s take a look at a sample HR reference check template email below to familiarize you with what you can expect. 

Email subject header: Reference Inquiry for [Insert Name of Candidate]

Hello [Insert Name of Reference],

[Insert Applicant Full Name] has listed you as a professional reference on their application for the [Insert Company Position] at the [Insert Company Name] 

We would kindly ask that you please fill out the below questionnaire, at your earliest convenience, as a way for us to evaluate if [Insert Applicant Full Name] would be a good fit for our organization. 

We thank you for your time and please feel free to reach out with any questions.


[Insert your name]

Following this, you can include a questionnaire that allows the previous employer to honestly evaluate the candidate. 

You can ask them to rate the candidate's reliability on a scale of one to five or to answer more simply a series of yes-no questions about the candidate’s ability to follow instructions. 

Of course, formatting and painstakingly customizing these emails for every candidate and position can be time consuming and extremely inefficient. Tools like Crosschq 360 can automate the process for you, improving response rates, and gathering data points faster. 

No more emails!  Check references faster. Get better feedback. Hire smarter.

Crosschq’s Automatic Email-Based Reference Checking

Utilizing the capabilities of a recruitment platform like Crosschq can truly make the reference checking process of your company or organization much easier.  Use automatically generated reports to communicate with hiring managers and compare candidates eastily.

Crosschq 360 Report

Powered by its Talent Intelligence Cloud™, Crosschq’s data-driven reference checking and analytics platform will help take all the hassle out of reference checking.

To learn how Crosschq can help you screen candidates faster and feel more confident in your hiring decisions at the same time, schedule a quick demo here

Mark Ko

by Mark Ko

Content Writer

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