Are References Real?


Corruption, embezzlement, fraud, these are all characteristics which exist everywhere. It is regrettably the way human nature functions, whether we like it or not. What successful economies do is keep it to a minimum. No one has ever eliminated any of that stuff.

– Allen Greenspan-  

“How do I know that a reference that a candidate provides is real?”   This is a question that we at SafeHiring get asked by approximately 60% of those that are considering using Reflynk to automate the reference checking process.  I always answer this question with a question. Yes, I know that can be annoying. “How do you conduct reference checks right now?” I already know that answer to this question because it is one of two ways:

  • By phone

  • By not checking them at all

I then will follow that question up by asking, “How do you currently validate the candidate’s references?”  Generally, the answer is, “We do not.”

Validating a reference can be extremely difficult and time consuming.  Some simple suggestions to protect and defend against Reference Fraud are:

  • Ask for a greater number of references - both professional and personal - This forces the candidate to dig deeper in their list of contacts to create a larger data set.

  • Perform some “prework” on the submitted references - This can be as simple as conducting a quick Google Search of the company or the person. You can also use a tool such as LinkedIn.  

Although LinkedIn is a powerful tool, it is not guaranteed 100% accurate.  Other business networking sites are:

  • Ask a greater number of questions per reference - Much like the approach above, this creates a larger data set.

  • Vary the types of questions asked - Create different competency groups in your question groupings.  Phrase the same question differently and ask in different parts of the session.

  • Conduct a random reference audit - Depending on the volume of candidates that an organization has, every 30 or 60 days reassign and reconduct the reference check using the same question set.  

  • Automate the reference checking process - By automating the reference checking process, an organization can easily and efficiently implement the above suggestions without increasing the time and/or effort to conduct the check.   

First Generation Automated Reference checking platforms use email to conduct reference checks.   More current platforms are now utilizing Mobile Texting and/or email to conduct  reference checks and have many more options in formatting the requested information.   These platforms will not truly validate the reference, but they will collect valuable information to help you validate such as:

  • Duplicate contact information

  • Time stamps of when responses were given

  • Accurate aggregation of data

As stated above, at this point, there is really no way to completely validate reference information regardless of how an organization conducts reference checks.  There is, however, more and more technology that is being developed (BlockChain) that could eliminate any instance of Job Fraud or Resume Fraud.

Learn more about RefLynk.