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Why You Should Stop Checking References and Start Checking Candidates Instead

5 Steps to Better Candidate Insights That Will Boost Your Quality of Hire

Goodbye traditional reference check

Ask most companies today about the traditional reference check and they don’t even want to have the conversation. Traditional reference checking has become a cumbersome annoyance for hiring managers who see the process as a time sink and relegate it to the last possible moment of the hiring process.  It’s a checkbox rather than any real “check”.

Recruitment is currently facing two huge challenges: a glut of candidates applying for every position, and not enough time to thoroughly investigate each one. Reference checks not only traditionally take forever to complete, but just don’t provide enough value to make them worth anyone’s time.

All things considered, it’s no surprise that recruiters and hiring managers are treating reference checks as an afterthought - if they even bother doing them at all. But there are several problems with sidestepping reference checking or leaving it until the last minute. 

Conducting references late in the game

The issue with checking references toward the end of the hiring funnel is that if a red flag or inaccuracy pops up at that late stage, the hiring process often must start over. Not only does this late information mean wasted time of interviewers and interviewees alike , it could be costing you the best candidates.  Those lost days or weeks could mean that many high-value candidates are already be off the market. 

It’s a fact that top talent often stays available for only 10 days before accepting an offer. It’s also true that when a candidate declines an offer, 31% of the time it’s because they already accepted one - usually from a competitor. You snooze, you lose holds true when it comes to securing the best and brightest employees.

How can you reconcile the need for “reference checking” with the just as strong need for speed - and more importantly, accuracy - in hiring? The cost of a bad hire can cost (likely at minimum) 30% or more of their salary, yet 74% of hiring managers say they have definitely made bad (and perhaps rushed) hiring choices.

While leaving an empty role vacant can cost your organization big in lost productivity, lowered morale, and co-worker burnout, filling it with the wrong person can be even more damaging. That’s why many recruiters are ditching “speed to hire” as a KPI to focus on, and shifting their attention to Quality of Hire instead.

You may think the only answer to hiring better and smarter lies in retooling your entire recruitment process. However,  your quality hiring concerns might be resolved simply by making a single, cost-effective change with the potential for a massive return on investment. 

That simple change starts with checking references earlier in the hiring process. But, you ask, won’t that slow me down? The good news is there are ways to automate the entire reference check workflow, making it so all it requires from the recruiter is, quite literally, the click of a button. 

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 Case in point: Crosschq 360 provides the fastest, candidate-friendly way to gather verified, pre-hire insights with digital candidate self-assessments

[Read More: Key Candidate Quality Indicators to Boost Your Talent Acquisition]

What Are Digital Reference Checks?

Digital reference checks turn traditional reference checking on its head. Crosschq 360 doesn’t just take traditional reference checking and tweak it. Instead, it transforms the process and the results, delivering a candidate roadmap that helps you build diverse winning teams - something traditional reference checking can never do. 

The pre-hire data you can gain from Crosschq 360 reports will empower your hiring team, improving both recruiter and candidate experience and making it easier to find, evaluate, and hire top talent before it goes off the market.  Combining the human element with recruitment AI delivers true Hiring Intelligence.

5 Steps to Successfully Utilize Crosschq 360 to Boost Quality of Hire

Step 1: Move Your Reference Checks Up the Talent Funnel

Since you won’t be spending hours on the phone tracking down references followed by more hours trying to read between the lines to get a real feel for a candidate, you can put the checking process where it belongs: mid-hiring funnel and well before the interview phase. 

Crosschq 360 can help achieve two goals simultaneously: reveal red flags so you can eliminate unqualified candidates before the interview phase, and surface high-value candidates whose qualifications may run deeper than their resume indicates.

Step 2: Have Every Applicant Complete a Candidate Self-Assessment (and Improve Your Candidate Experience)

To start, you can request a self-assessment from the candidate directly. It’s an opportunity to ask them how they would rank themselves on various skills and attributes that have been deemed important to your open role.

Every Crosschq 360 check-in is tailored for the job posting, with questions formulated by IO psychologists. You will be able to build a picture of how the candidate sees  themself and their readiness to take on these new responsibilities. 

Candidates often feel that standardized application processes prevent them from getting to showcase their best qualities. Candidate self-assessments, on the other hand, give applicants the chance to explain exactly what makes them such a good choice. Empowering the candidate provides an improved candidate experience. This KPI can be tracked with a Candidate NPS.

Crosschq’s Candidate Experience Surveys can help you gather feedback from candidates and apply that feedback to how you structure your reference check questions to give them space to shine.

Step 3: Cross-Check the Candidate Self-Assessment Data With Former Peers and Managers

Continue building your candidate roadmap by reaching out to the people who have past experience working with your candidates and know them best. Their responses to the same questions your candidate self-checked against will help build a clearer report. Instead of the mostly useless, biased and inconsistent information provided by a traditional reference check, you gain valuable candidate data sourced from insights only these former coworkers and mentors can provide. Not only can you rely on consistent methods for collecting that information, data shows these references are more likely to be more candid, as well as thorough, in their feedback when using a digital tool versus talking to someone on the phone.

Step 4: Leverage Reference  Data for Greater Diversity and Improved Interviews Overall

This newfound, detailed pre-hire data can be leveraged to remove bias and complete a more consistent, yet more comprehensive interview for all candidates. 

Tools like Crosschq 360 give you clear candidate profiles without the unconscious bias often introduced via traditional reference checking. Without this bias blocking qualified candidates from advancing, your organization has a better chance of improving DEIB with culture-add candidates. Companies with greater diversity are more innovative and generate greater revenues than companies with less diversity!

The same consistency methods apply to interviews. When all you have is a resume and a lousy traditional reference  check, you’re walking into interviews with candidates almost completely blind. This is a ripe opportunity for bias to creep in, especially when your organization’s interviewers are not well trained. As well, lack of good data often means the interview is not used to its fullest extent to gather relevant additional data points on the candidate. 

Candidate data from your Crosschq 360 Reports give you a clear picture of your candidate’s skills and strengths, and let you compare candidates across an even playing field without falling victim to unconscious bias. This data improves Hiring Team Experience in communications, interviews, and across the board. 

Step 5: Utilize Your Candidate Roadmaps For Onboarding

The data on your candidates not only helps you select the best people to fill open positions but gives you valuable information and insights into how you can best nurture them during onboarding and beyond. You’ll know from the day they start where their strengths and weaknesses lie and can provide L&D to shore up any skills gaps. This can generate instant employee loyalty and help new hires feel like they are in an environment where they can thrive and advance their careers.


Traditional Reference Check vs. Crosschq 360

When it comes to a side-by-side comparison, Crosschq 360 beats traditional reference checking hands down. 

Traditional reference checks:

  • Take three hours of recruiter time on average per candidate
  • Take 4-10 business days to complete
  • Cost an average of $144 per candidate
  • Provide adequate information less than 25% of the time
  • Are often contaminated by unconscious bias

Crosschq 360’s automated, digitized data solution:

  • Reduces time to initiate and complete assessments by 95%
  • Takes only 2 days to complete
  • Costs only $4-$8 per candidate
  • Delivers a holistic view of each candidate’s skills and attributes
  • Prevents unconscious bias thanks to preset questions and scoring
  • Reduces time-to-hire by 2-8 business days

Using Crosschq 360 eliminates the song and dance routine that is traditional reference checking, replacing an outdated, inefficient, and non-productive process with the new and improved option of candidate self-assessments and additional pre-hire feedback data from their former mentors and coworkers. 

Only Crosschq gives you the power to create more diverse, cohesive, and winning teams through candidate checking. By building candidate roadmaps, you not only gain insights into the employees you end up hiring but create a dossier on high-value potential future candidates as well.

In addition, Crosschq 360 integrates seamlessly with your existing ATS and other recruitment tools, platforms, and systems that your hiring managers already use. The rest of the Crosschq suite of products can help you further improve your workforce and future-proof it against employee churn and the skills gaps of tomorrow.

TalentWall™ by Crosschq

Having trouble getting hiring managers and recruiters on the same page? TalentWall™ by Crosschq overlays your ATS, with bidirectional, real-time updates so everyone in your organization can see how hiring is going. It’s the ideal tool for companies to improve their hiring process through collaborative recruiting, with complete transparency into a fully visible pipeline.

Crosschq Analytics

Recruitment isn’t over when the offer is accepted. Onboarding and nurturing your new hires is what will keep them from becoming a churn statistic. One in five new employees quit in their first 45 days on the job, and that number jumps to one in three over the first six months. 

Crosschq Analytics lets you keep checking in with candidates after they become employees, helping you spot issues and step in to retain good talent. It also tracks which hires work out the best, helping you plan for and achieve more success in future rounds of hiring.

Candidate Experience and Hiring Team Experience surveys improve your recruitment process across the board, delivering faster hiring with superlative Quality of Hire. The more you know about “how hiring is going” from these perspectives, the better you can make these experiences for everyone involved.

Are you ready to flip the script, start assessing  candidates instead of checking references, and improve Quality of Hire? Contact us for a free Crosschq demonstration today. 

Katie Kennedy

by Katie Kennedy

Talent Consulting Lead

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