automated reference checks

How Important are the Questions in Reference Checks?

How Important are the Questions in Reference Checks?

When hiring a new employee, there are a lot of unknowns. How exactly are you supposed to know this person will be a good hire? What precautions can you, as the employer, take prior to hiring a new person to your team? Although it’s impossible to make sure your candidate will be the perfect person for the job, there are steps that you can take to ensure that they will at least be a good fit. This includes a reference check. Reference checks can do a lot of different things for your organization. They can:

  • Ensure the candidate is honest

  • Evaluate the candidate’s skills

  • Gather an understanding of the candidate’s personality

All three of these points are quite different from each other, but they can all be done within a single reference check. This is why many recruiters and organizations find reference checks to be one of the most powerful tools in the hiring process. But still, reference checks sometimes miss the mark and don’t provide much help to recruiters. So what can be done to ensure a strong reference check? Simply put, the reference check questions are vital.

When searching for a new hire, it is important to think about what type of person will fit the best in your organization. The resumé indicates the person’s skill set in one way, but the reference check can get more insight into what the candidate can do for you and how they go about their business. Reference checks are as good as the questions you use within them. With RefLynk, you are able to fully customize the questions you are asking.

Without a strong set of reference check questions, a reference check can be deemed worthless. In order to get the most of the check, your questions need to be ones that illicit honest and useful answers. Rather than asking “What are Joe’s weaknesses?”, consider asking, “What are Joe’s weaknesses and how is he able to overcome them?”. Broad questions illicit broad answers, and broad answers don’t often tell you much about the candidate.

Another good option for reference check question is using the likert scale method. A likert scale allows the reference to answer a question or a statement on a scale of 1-5. An example could be, “How well does this candidate handle criticism on a scale of 1-5?”. This can be useful because of a few reasons:

  • It is quick and easy for the reference. They can complete the reference check quickly, and it does not entail a lot of work on their end.

  • The different rankings by the different references can be aggregated easily, so the results can be averaged to see the overall consensus on the candidate.

  • Ranking a candidate on a scale of 1-5 is easier to be truthful. It is often easier for a reference to use a number when considering a candidate than it is for them to say something negative about the person.

RefLynk has the ability to set up the reference check questions both ways mentioned above. Questions can either be open-ended, allowing for open responses, or they can be based on the likert scale model, allowing for rankings. Both are good tools in formulating strong reference check questions. They can be used for different types of questions, which can allow for a more thorough reference check overall. 

If you are looking for a new reference check platform, and would like to learn more about the automated process of RefLynk, please consider signing up for a 1:1 demo here!

How to Conduct Reference Checking

Reference checking is a critical step in the hiring process because it is crucial to learn about a potential employee’s past, work experience, and workplace interactions; however, reference checking can result in wasting countless hours and manpower. Frustrating rounds of “phone tag” waste valuable time. With RefLynk, these problems are solved. Our automated software is candidate driven employing SMS text messaging and emailing. This means no more phone tag while trying to reach different references because RefLynk is a fully automated system. Texts and emails are sent to references without the user having to do each one individually. This eliminates a lot of wasted time.  Since the system automatically sends reminders, it requires no additional work on the user’s part. Reminders are continuously sent until there is a response. Responses being either a completed reference or a refusal. This guarantees that no reference is overlooked because of a lack of contact or referral response. Receiving regular reminders prompts the recipient to complete the form and return it quickly. Today’s technology dependent world dictates that people are likely to check their email and texts multiple times a day, increasing the likelihood of timely responses. Phone calls, on the other hand, can easily go unanswered or unreturned. Each reminder is automatically sent out to the references every 24 hours until responses are received. This process ensures that time is saved rather than wasted.  Even though reference checking is vital and extremely important for businesses, today there is no reason for it to take an unreasonable amount of time.

So what exactly is a reference check and why is it so important? A reference check is when an employer reaches out to a job applicant's previous employers, educational contacts, and other sources to learn about the applicant’s history, work habits, and other qualifications. The evaluation of an applicant’s skills, character, and work habits is the primary focus of a reference check.  An interview can only reveal a limited amount of information about a person. It is important to learn what other people have to say about the candidate.  A reference check can cover leadership skills, adaptability, decision making, etc. A reference check can even ask for examples of how the candidate demonstrated specific skills in the past.

Another important aspect of a reference check is verifying the truth.  The candidate can claim certain accomplishments during their last job, but a potential employer needs to be able to confirm that such claims are true. The way to do that is to ask the candidate’s past employer during a reference check.  The past employer will hopefully verify applicant claims about job experience and skills.  The inquiring company will then be able to compare what is said about the candidate by references to what the potential employee has claimed on their resumé. This not only ensures that the candidate is capable of performing certain tasks, but it also shows whether the candidate is truthful.

Another critical point of reference checks is gaining a better understanding of a candidate’s work relationships. It’s very tough to determine the personality of a candidate through a couple of face-to-face interviews. While one may be very successful in a field of work, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that others enjoy working with them. This is important information for recruiters to know, and is best learned through the feedback of references.  A potential candidate is inherently more likely to show their best self in an interview because there is something important (the job) on the line. It is crucial to examine what co-workers have experienced when dealing with the candidate on a daily basis. This input is vital to know when making a decision about hiring.  With that added information, the company can have much more confidence in the hiring decisions.

Now that we have discussed the capabilities that RefLynk possesses and why reference checks are important, we will now go into the features present that are relevant when choosing a reference-checking system. The first feature that is extremely important to look for when searching for a reference-checking company isn’t necessarily a feature at all.  It is actually a compliance issue that many reference-checking systems are lacking. In order for a good reference check to happen, and for it to be valid, it has to be completed through a company or system that is FCRA compliant.  Because Reflynk is considered an investigative consumer report under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, it requires clients to adhere to all requirements under the FCRA.  There are six requirements in order to be FCRA compliant. They are :

  1. Written permission must be obtained from the specific consumer, prior to receiving the consumer report.

  2. The consumer needs to be aware of how consumer report will be used.

  3. The information within the consumer report must be accurate.

  4. If deciding not to hire or to terminate employment, a copy of the report must be given to the consumer along with a Pre-Adverse Action Letter and a Summary of Rights Under the FCRA.

  5. If deciding not to hire or to terminate employment, the consumer must be given an opportunity to dispute any information within the consumer report.

  6. If the consumer does not dispute the report, then an Adverse Action Letter has to be sent to the consumer.

RefLynk abides by all of these requirements in order to be FCRA compliant.  Consumer reports include criminal background checks, references, driving history, etc.  Because references are included in the list of consumer reports, it is necessary to use a FCRA compliant company. RefLynk is exactly that.  

The next feature that is becoming necessary in reference checking is one that was mentioned in the beginning - the ability to use SMS text messaging and emails to conduct reference checks.  In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, time is of the essence and texting and emailing has become almost primary communication for many people.  Because of this, it is essential for businesses to make some changes to not only keep up with new technology, but to also make it easier for those using these forms of technology on a daily basis.  RefLynk has done this. The system is candidate driven, so that takes countless hours off of the employer’s plate. Instead of the employer calling and reaching out to the candidate’s (future employee’s) references, the candidate is asked to input the references into the system.  Once they are provided, a text and/or email will be sent to those prospective references.  They will then be able to decline the reference (in which case the candidate will be asked to supply another) or will be able to quickly fill out the reference without ever having to pick up the phone.  Because the candidate is asked to enter all of the information and the references are sent via text or email, the employer is basically hands-off throughout the entire process.

So what happens if the potential reference doesn’t see the initial text or email asking them to fill out a reference?  This brings us to the next important feature that RefLynk provides.  The RefLynk system sends out automatic reminders for people to complete the reference.  Once the survey is sent (this occurs when the candidate enters the contact information), RefLynk automatically reminds the references everyday at noon (in the appropriate time zone) that there is a survey waiting for them to either complete or deny.  This ensures that the potential reference sees the request thereby leading to faster responses.  The response being made in a timely manner is a direct result of a mix of the SMS text messaging/email and the auto reminders. Automation results in quicker turnaround times and less frustration for everyone.

So far, the features that have been addressed have been those of efficiency and time saving.  The next feature will be more focused on what the actual software looks like and how the client can use RefLynk in different ways.  In order to complete a reference, there has to be a survey made and sent to the candidate’s potential references.  RefLynk allows for the client to make customizable surveys for all of their job titles.  The survey can ask questions using either a Likert scale (rating from 1-5) or a free form response field. This enables the client to make any survey they want with many different types of questions. This ability to design customized surveys within the RefLynk system allows for the endless possibilities when it comes to reference checking.  RefLynk will also allow the client to edit any survey, so if a change is needed to be made, it can be easily done. What happens once all of the references are completed and it is time to view the results  It sounds like it could be a daunting task to go through all of the references and see who answered what within the survey, but RefLynk has made this a super easy as well. RefLynk supplies the client with aggregated feedback on all of the references.  Feedback is aggregated and scored by reference relationship. These reports are easy to read and provide consistent feedback and comparison. They allow for the easy comprehension of data.  Reports are available both online or through an integration as html or PDF. With these quantifiable results, the client will be able to easily view the provided answers without having to go through every question for every reference individually. Even though RefLynk has the capability to view the results this way, it is possible to look at them individually if that is preferred.  The responses can be viewed as aggregated feedback, or examined question by question.  Both ways are easily accessible within the system.

Now that RefLynk has been introduced, we are faced with the question of are reference checks important.  They are vital for a company when hiring a new employee because a background check and an interview are simply not enough when deciding if you want this candidate to be part of your business’ future.  A background check is important to decide if this person is safe and hasn’t committed any crimes. The interview lets the potential employer observe their personality, demeanor, and comportment on a very surface level.  The reference check will supply valuable feedback that is impossible to know based on a simple interview.

Think about when you are deciding what type of laptop or phone to buy.  Chances are that most people rely heavily on what others say about those products.  If I get online and am looking at laptops and see that one has a 2 star rating vs. one that has a 4.5 star rating, I will automatically rule out the 2 star laptop and look closer at the 4.5 star product.  I trust what other people have to say about a product they have used. Today, this is how most people shop.  So when “shopping” for a new employee, why wouldn’t you want to know what their past employers and coworkers say about them?  It is critical information that can lead to a more informed decision. When I make an important decision, I want to have as much information as possible.

Another important part of a reference check is asking the candidate to complete a survey about themselves.  This is basically having them be their own reference.  This will show the employer how honest that candidate is as well as their degree of self-knowledge. The potential employer will be able to match the candidate’s responses with the responses of their references.  If a candidate ranks him/her self a 5 as a “hard-worker,” but their two past employers gave them a 1 or a 2, that will alert the potential employer that more information is needed before a decision can be reached.  The last thing an employer wants is to hire someone who must be let go a month later for an issue that could have been seen had a reference check been conducted prior to the hiring.   

Another great part of using RefLynk and conducting thorough reference checks is that it shows the legitimacy of your business. It demonstrates that a business is serious and professional when the hiring process is not only quick and efficient but thorough as well.  If I was someone applying for a job and saw that they did not ask for reference checks, I would feel like the company may not be very serious or care very much about the workplace safety.  If they did have a reference check process, but it was unorganized and inefficient, I might be reluctant to accept a position there. However, if I was a candidate and saw RefLynk and how efficient and serious it was, that would influence me to want to work for the company even more. It is a very professional software, and it completes a very important part of the hiring process much faster than any previous process.

Who should be reference checked? Throughout this entire article, the classic example that has been addressed has been the traditional reference check of a potential new employee.  Of course, that is the type of reference check that RefLynk usually completes, but we would like to point out  that we, as humans, are constantly reference checking in our daily lives.  Earlier in this post, I brought up the example of buying a new laptop or phone. Simply comparing the two by looking at product reviews online is a form of reference checking. While looking at the reviews, I am sure that many people want to know how fast the product can be shipped? How well it will be packed? How helpful is the company’s Customer Service Dept.?  Asking these questions and investigating them is a form of reference checking that all consumers do.  Some other examples of times we may reference check in our daily lives are things like: picking a new church, deciding what new restaurant to try, whether to send our kids to private or public schools, or even what new show to watch after work. These decisions are almost always based on what other people say. When picking a new church, we ask members of the congregation about what the church offers. When deciding on a restaurant, we use sources like Google Review or Yelp. When deciding whether to send our kids to private or public schools, we use test scores and feedback from parents.  When deciding what show to watch, we often use social media to ask our friends for recommendations. So if we do all of that work for things as menial as picking a new show or new restaurant, why don’t we put that much effort on performing reference checks on potential employees?

Because this world is ever-changing and technology continues to grow and enhance by the day, it is important to keep up with the times in the business world.  There are constant advances being put in place to procedures easier and more efficient, so it is paramount as a business owner to try to stay as up to date as possible.  With that being said, RefLynk is in that realm of how we change business and adapt to technology.  Reference checking has always been a hiring practice and will continue to be one. Since it is so important, why not use a reliable, technologically advanced system that not only makes the process quicker and more efficient, but also ensures a great reference-checking platform? Because the business scene is constantly evolving, processes continue to evolve. Why not try to save time wherever you can? Even though reference checking is one of the most important factors in business growth, RefLynk allows for it to be done more quickly saving your company tons of time and money.

          Reference checks are not only vital to business development, but they are also crucial in forming a healthy workplace.  An interview and a resumé can show an employer a lot about a candidate, but those alone they cannot show exactly who that person is and what kind of employee they will be.  A reference check gets insider information about a person that an interview and resumé might not indicate.  Now, if all three of these services are together, then that will give the employer a more accurate idea of who they are hiring.  And since these reference checks are so important, why not do it as thoroughly as possible while still being the most efficient you can be? It is key to be efficient, but also to be comprehensive. RefLynk software enables both and will work for your business.  If you are interested in RefLynk, we would be happy to show you the system in a demo.  You can sign up for that demo at  

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What Exactly is Revealed Through Reference Checks?

It’s a bit ironic to think that one could say all the right things in an interview, yet the job offer may depend more on the words of someone else. This is all thanks to reference checks. No one can know for sure what references will say, but this article aims to shed some light on what recruiters are digging for.

Evaluation of Skills

Recruiters want to learn about actual job performance. This includes things such as leadership skills, adaptability, decision making, etc. Recruiters often want a confirming example along with evaluating the skill.


Honesty is integrated into the culture of many companies and organizations; therefore, recruiters understandably want to hire honest candidates. To ensure that the statements a candidate has made about previous work experiences are true, reference checks verify the validity of a resume and other claims made during the interview. The only way to authenticate these claims is to get in touch with someone that knows and is willing to confirm or deny the claims.

Gathering Opinions

Another crucial point of reference checks is simply to gain a better understanding of the likeability of a candidate. It’s very tough to determine the personality of a candidate through a couple of face-to-face interactions. While one may be very successful in a field of work, it  doesn’t necessarily follow that others enjoy working with them. This is important information for recruiters to know, and is best learned through the feedback of references.

Reference checks can provide a more complete picture of an individual. While it’s a bit worrisome to think that past employers and peers may have a say in your future employment, it should also be kept in mind that reference checks are usually helpful. Although your relationship with your past employer may have been somewhat less than ideal, it is always better to be honest and open in the interview phase, as reference checks will likely reveal the truth.

Would you like to see how RefLynk works?  Register for a weekly demo.

Top Five Reasons to Use RefLynk

Reference checking is a critical step in the hiring process for all companies. It is crucial to learn about a potential employee’s past, their work experience, and what other employers and co-workers thought about them. Reference checking can involve countless hours and manpower. Frustrating rounds of “phone tag” waste valuable time for your company. With RefLynk, these problems are solved. Our automated software is candidate-driven and involves SMS text messaging and emailing. Here are the top five reasons why a company should use RefLynk for their reference checking needs:


  1. SMS Text Messaging and Emails: RefLynk is candidate-driven. This means that the employer is not responsible for contacting the candidate’s references. Instead, the candidate supplies RefLynk with reference contact information, and the system sends  the reference survey to those candidates via email and or text message.

  2. Automatic Reminders: After the survey is sent, RefLynk will automatically remind the references everyday at noon (in the appropriate time zone) that there is a survey waiting for them to either complete or deny. If denied, the candidate is responsible for supplying a new reference. These automatic reminders ensure that a response will be made in a timely manner. Automation results in quicker turnaround times and less frustration for everyone.

  3. Customizable Surveys: When setting up RefLynk, you will be able to customize your survey questions . We are able to provide Likert Scale questions (Rating from 1-5) as well as free-form response questions. With these two options, you will be able to create whatever questions you prefer.

  4. FCRA Compliance: The FCRA (Fair Credit Reporting Act) applies to all types of consumer reports- criminal background checks, references, driving history, etc. If you use a third party (background screening firm) and pay them to conduct your background checks then you must follow the requirements of the FCRA. RefLynk is FCRA compliant.

  5. Aggregated Feedback: Feedback is aggregated and scored by reference relationship. These reports are easy to read and provide consistent feedback and comparison. They allow for the easy comprehension of data.  Reports are available both online or through an integration as html or PDF. With these quantifiable results, you will be able to easily view the provided answers.

If you would like to learn more, please join us for a free, 30 minute webinar showing you the RefLynk system, here!

Don’t Be ‘Resumé Blinded’ When Hiring


Because a resumé tends to be a good summary of one’s professional background and achievements, it's no surprise that a significant portion of the hiring process can be based on it’s content, appearance, etc. However, it should also be noted that (according to a survey by CareerBuilder), of 2,500 hiring managers, 56% have caught candidates lying on their resumé. In addition, the survey found that nearly 25% of hiring managers came across candidates that claimed to have been employed by companies for whom they had never worked. It is certainly not uncommon for someone to fabricate or exaggerate the truth on a resumé, or even to flat-out lie.

So while an impressive resumé should not be automatically discounted, it certainly should be validated. Do not base a hiring decision on a stellar resumé alone and become ‘resumé blinded’ by a candidate who may not be exactly who or what they claim.

How can one validate a resumé?

The answer to this question is, and has always been, through a process of rigorous reference checks. Cross-checking the information that a candidate provides (whether on their resumé or in an interview) is nothing new to the HR industry. It is still the only way to ensure candidates are being honest about their backgrounds and experience.

Why would an HR team NOT want to do reference checks?

The downside of reference checking is that it is somewhat tedious and time consuming work. Traditionally, an HR employee would have to call each of the candidate’s references. In the case where there are many candidates applying for the same position, the reference checking process can result in many hours of phone calls. The HR employee may have to call many times simply to obtain necessary information.

How Reflynk Fixes the Issue

Candidate Driven:

Instead of the work being placed on the HR employee to obtain reference feedback, Reflynk places the responsibility on each candidate. Being a candidate-driven software, each candidate must initiate the process by entering a set number of references and their contact information into the system. The system automates each step in between the entering of references and the receiving of feedback.

Email and Text vs Phone Calls:

Instead of phone calls, Reflynk utilizes text and email. Email and text are much more effective in receiving quick responses than a series of endless phone calls.

Feedback via Survey

Through text and email notifications, each reference must complete a customized survey developed by the HR team. All aspects of desired feedback is covered i.e. leadership, team support, ethics, etc. Finally, the survey is presented in a very easy-to-digest report which allows the HR manager to go through each candidate’s results in a minimal amount of time.

Reflynk ensures that each candidate is who they claim to be and that the best candidate for the position is the one who receives the offer.

For more information on how Reflynk can save your HR team time and money, click here to register for our weekly demo.

How to Narrow Candidates Early in the Hiring Process: Social Media Screening vs Online Reference Checks


In the last twenty years, social media websites have grown in both their numbers and influence at an unprecedented rate. Regulating the uses and misuses of the information these websites generate is a constant challenge to both our legal system and society at large. Millions share personal content every day on public websites that can be easily accessed. Possession of a simple password can reveal an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, opinions and everyday behavior for anyone to view. The news is filled with examples of both the best and worst impulses of human nature that social media lays bare for all the world to judge. We’ve all seen examples of how quickly social media posts can elevate or destroy careers. Prospective job candidates and potential employers both have much to gain or lose when it comes to the management of social media. How then should candidates, as well as employers and potential employers, manage social media?

Legally, companies are not prohibited from searching a public social media account and examining the posts. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a survey in 2013 that revealed, “77% of organizations reported using social networking sites to recruit potential job candidates” ([1]. However, Human  Resources is limited to what information they can consider during the hiring process, including any information learned from social media. In order to abide by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), anything on a social media page that does not directly relate to the job role cannot be considered. For example, employers cannot hold an individual’s race, religion, or sexual orientation against them when hiring, even though they may discover this information when researching a social media account. So, in the same way that only specific information can be learned from a background check or during a face-to-face interview, only certain information from a social media account can affect the hiring process.

If a social media post is made public, everyone has a right to see it - including employers. This can be beneficial if the employer likes what they see. Social media is a great way to highlight personal achievements, past work projects, and additional freelance work. Building a strong personal brand through social media can be very advantageous to a person seeking employment. Alternatively, employers can just as easily discover unwanted information through social media. This would include coming across racist rants, sexist comments, or any other degrading behavior that opposes a company’s values.

Although pre-employment social media screening is on the rise, it is by no means a replacement for background screening. Other than the legal liabilities that employers face, there are a few other reasons why social media screening shouldn’t be relied on. Social media postings do not provide a clear, complete representation of an individual. Individuals are in sole control of what they post on their account. This means they have the ability to hide or over-exaggerate any part of their life. Additionally, social media posts typically are of social importance and do not reflect the candidate’s professional persona. Employers can receive a construed image of a candidate this way. In terms of gaining relevant and job-related information on a candidate, social media isn’t likely to be helpful.

 The Solution:

A much more efficient and legally-compliant method of narrowing potential clients early in the hiring process is performing reference checks. While performing reference checks may seem like an extensive and tedious task, by no means does it have to be. Reflynk innovates the traditional way of performing reference checks by phone, and instead, utilizes an email and text-message survey to compile data and responses. This expedites the entire process, and  affords candid responses in much less time. Compared to social media screening, using Reflynk will provide a more accurate impression of each candidate and has no legal risks involved.

 Click here to learn more about the benefits of Reflynk

* As a pre-employment background screening firm, it should be noted that we do NOT currently conduct any social media screening. We leave the option to screen social media accounts up to our clients.


Using AI in HR and Recruiting

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is a buzzword right now that people are either embracing or fearing.  AI has been around for years and is already a part of everyone’s life. We just may not have realized that was what it was called.  In fact, until recently, it was not called AI.   It might have been called:


One might ask, “Where does AI fit into HR and Recruiting?”  To answer this we must first distinguish the difference between HR (Human Resources) and Recruiting.

Human Resources is a department within an organization that oversees various aspects of employment such as compliance with labor laws and employment standards, employment benefits, and some aspects of recruitment and dismissal.  One major area in which artificial intelligence will have impact on Human Resources is improving relationships with existing employees.   HR departments are constantly fielding employee inquiries. AI can be used to answer these questions via automated email replies or IM messages (a form of email filters referenced above).   Virtual assistants could perform and automate everything from scheduling employee review meetings to on-boarding landmarks.  Using algorithms to facilitate employee coaching is beginning to take shape now and shows great promise.

Recruiting is the overall process of attracting, selecting, and appointing suitable candidates for jobs within an organization.   Recruiting is an essential part of Human Resources as Human Resources would not exist if Recruiting was not present.  AI is present in most areas of today’s recruiting environment.  AI is used to reduce possible human bias in recruiting.  This brings up another topic for a later post- Do we want to dehumanize the recruiting of humans?   AI is present in the job posts that are posted on an organization’s career site i.e. a job board such as Monster, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc . . .   How are those job descriptions developed, parsed, and ordered for present and future success? AI.  Assessing candidates and the candidate selection process is littered with artificial intelligence.   Many organizations are using software with sophisticated algorithms to automate, rank, match, and assess a candidate’s attributes and experience with a desired position.  

The above examples are just a few of the solutions available right now that are incorporating Artificial Intelligence in the HR and recruiting arena.    Obviously, there are many solutions available with many more to follow.  Ironically enough, AI will more than likely play a large role in determining the what, the if, and the when your organization takes a dive into the world of AI.   

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Who Should Be Reference Checked?


Reference checking is the process of vetting an individual, group of individuals, or service to qualify for an opportunity.    That definition is extremely broad and raises many questions.  The simple interpretation is a belief that past experiences will predict future behavior. Learning about past experiences is nothing more than informal reference checking.  

Many of us reference check every day without even realizing that we are actually checking references. Here are a few nontraditional, informal situations in which you are reference checking:

  • Picking a Church

  • Picking a Travel/Club Sports organization for your child

  • Picking a Restaurant

  • Buying anything for the first time online from a retailer

  • Buying anything from Ebay

  • Using Uber

  • Picking a Contractor

I think you understand the point I’m making.  Let’s dig a bit deeper into each one of these nontraditional examples.

  • Picking a Church-  first thing that many will do is ask multiple members about church leadership, facilities etc…   Facebook

  • Picking a Restaurant- Yelp

  • Buying anything for the first time online from a retailer-   reading the reviews- ie. Amazon

  • Buying anything from Ebay-  Feedback rating

  • Using Uber-  Driver star rating

  • Picking a Contractor-  Home Advisor

Using the above nontraditional examples, you can see that reference checking plays is a huge component in our everyday lives.  In the same manner, giving references is vitally important in helping others make informed decisions.  We all use data, even if we do not realize it, but we all value as much data as we can process.  The nontraditional examples above are nothing more than ongoing reference checks put into a format that is easily accessible.  

The question of “Who Should Be Referenced Checked?”  perhaps should read “Who, If Anyone, Is Not Reference Checked?”

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Are You Conducting Exit Interviews?


The life cycle of an employee within an organization normally will consist of the following stages:

  • Application

  • Candidate

  • Vetting

  • Hire

  • On-Boarding

  • Career Development

  • Advancement

  • Resignation or Termination

  • Exit Interview

This cycle is relatively standard across most careers in multiple verticals whether it be professional or unskilled.   

Vetting and Exit Interview:  Both stages are vitally important to the employment cycle. A careful examination of employee turnover rates in multiple industries reveals that vetting and the exit interviews both serve similar purposes and share similar components.   Part of the Vetting process that is often overlooked is reference checking.  Reference checking is nothing more than gathering data on a candidate from multiple sources.  Methods used for reference checking are:

  • Phone

  • Face to Face

  • Email

  • Mobile Texting

Technology has advanced in such a way that reference checking can now be automated to save time and gather more in-depth data on the candidate.  

The exit interview is similar in purpose to the reference check and can be carried out using the same methods.  The exit interview normally takes place as the last stage when a current employee transitions to a former employee.   There are many possible reasons why an employee leaves a position. Whether leaving voluntarily or involuntarily, the key issue is WHY the employee is leaving.   It is vitally important that the employer discover why the employee is leaving. This information is a must for an employer to collect and process in order to identify any patterns in turnover.   Of particular interest is the possibility that the employee and the job were a mismatch from the very beginning. If so, the employer can use information learned from the exit interview to tweak the hiring process. Perhaps the employment interview didn’t target the needed skills, or there was a fail in the vetting stage.

Common methods used for conducting exit interviews are basically the same as those used for Reference Checking:

  • Phone

  • Face to Face

  • Email

  • Mobile Texting

Phone-  historically the most common method.  Issues include:  time suck, cooperation of the former employee, information often limited because of the very nature of a phone conversation.

Face to Face-  historically the second most common method used for interviews.  Issues include:  awkwardness on both the interviewer and interviewee. There is always the possibility that the interviewee’s responses are less than honest.

Email-  becoming more popular because of potential increases in time savings and candid feedback; therefore, may get more transparent or real data. Email also offers the interviewer an opportunity to ask more questions.  Issues include the acceptance and participation of the exiting employee. There is also the possibility that emails can get lost in the volume of emails received.

Mobile Texting-  Just now becoming acceptable by business standards. It is exceptionally accessible because texting reaches the former employee “where they live” i.e. their mobile phone.  

The common theme in Reference Checking and Exit Interviews is:  DATA.   The increase in amounts of data that can be collected in an efficient manner is vitally important in making informed decisions both the hiring and exiting processes. Automating these processes can lead to increased amounts of data which will, in turn, lead to much-improved processes.

How Many References Can I Request?


“How many references can I request when doing a reference check?” is a common question that gets asked every day.  The answer depends on a number of factors:

  • Is this for employees, applicants, volunteers, vendors, or visitors?

  • What is the candidate going to be doing?

  • What is the objective of the reference check?

  • What method(s) are you going to use to obtain the references?

  • Is this for employment or a volunteer opportunity?

In most cases, the types of questions that are asked for a prospective employee reference check will contain specific “required” questions of previous employers.  These questions will require factual answers. For example, “When did you work with this candidate?” or “In what capacity did you work with the candidate?”

There normally would be 3-4 of these types of questions to validate the source of the reference.  If this were a volunteer opportunity, the number of factual questions required would be much less- if any at all.  The general idea of volunteer reference checks is to determine if the applicant is qualified and has relevant experience.  

What is the candidate going to be doing?

If the candidate is going to be working with sensitive information such as finances, then there is a need to gather more information regarding character, knowledge, and necessary skills.  If the applicant is going to be working with children or with diverse populations, deeper information is needed. Such an applicant has to be a fit with a history of displaying appropriate behavior, temperament, and cultural awareness.  

What is the objective of the reference check?

Is the objective of a reference check to gather more data about the applicant in order to make a more informed hiring decision, or is the reference check being done to simply check the box that says a reference check is complete?  A reference check should be completed for the purpose of gathering increased data on the candidate/applicant.  Using that information to make a more informed decision increases the value of the organization as a whole.  If reference checking is being done to simply satisfy a process, then it will be a waste of time.  Data abuse or ignorance during the hiring process is one of the largest factors in creating a high turnover within an organization.  

What method(s) are you going to use to obtain the references?

Many think that there is only 1 way to obtain references- phone.  Not true. There are many ways to obtain information. They are:

  • Phone

  • Mail

  • Personal interview

  • Email

  • Text

  • Video

All of the above are acceptable means of gathering information. The method that is chosen depends on the time that is allocated to reference collecting.  When using phone, mail, personal interview or video, 4 to 6 questions are normally asked because of the time that it has taken to arrange these meetings. Cold calling doesn’t usually yield plentiful or satisfactory results.

An automated process for gathering references allows for many more questions to be asked and much more data to be collected. It is an efficient use of time and doesn’t require the need for pre-arranged appointments.  What is lost when there isn’t personal interaction and interpretation will be gained in the amount of data that can collected. The convenience of automation allows for an increased number of questions to be asked of references. This means there will be increased information available to potential employers.

Matching the method used to check references to the requirements and skills needed for the position will provide your organization a strong foundation for building a compatible workforce.

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data”

Daniel Keys Moran

How to Handle Intern Reference Check Feedback


As a junior in college, I have been fortunate to have a lot of recent experience working as an intern. The college I attend has been phenomenal in providing assistance with these opportunities, and wants future students to have similar ones. For this reason, at the end of my internship my employers and I were required to conduct interviews with an individual from the college. This data is extremely beneficial; however, the process to acquire it was not efficient to say the least. Simply imagine the time and transportation costs accumulated from sending individuals all over to meet with hundreds of students and employers just to conduct an exit interview. There has to be a better method.

Ironically, the company I interned with was Reflynk. Reflynk’s reference checking software is the exact solution that my college needs. Here is a breakdown of how Reflynk works in a simple 6 step model:

  1. Admin. user enters the applicant's email and optional phone number within the system

  2. Applicant receives email and optional text message

  3. Applicant enters desired references with contact info

  4. References receive email and optional text message

  5. References complete survey regarding applicant

  6. Admin. user views feedback

While Reflynk is originally intended for reference checking, it certainly can be used to obtain exit interview data, such as the instance with my college internship. To do this, the college would simply be the Admin. user, the intern would act as the applicant, and the employers would act as the references. The process remains the same, and the data gets collected in a much more productive manner.

Whether you need to obtain information on a potential new-hire or for an exit interview, Reflynk is the ultimate tool for collecting and organizing that data. Time and money are two essential concerns for nearly any business, and Reflynk saves both.

To learn more about the specific ways Reflynk can help save time and money for your company, I encourage you to attend a webinar:

Or contact us for more information and a private demo: or 866-867-2910

What is the Cost of Automated Reference Check?


Cost:  The amount or equivalent paid or charged for something.

Automated:  To apply the principles of automation to a mechanical process, industry, office, etc. . .

Reference Check:  The process of getting information about a person from his/her previous employers, schools and other available sources.

Pretty simple by definition, not so simple by choice.  

Additional Questions to ask to get the answer:

  • Is this a service or software solution?

  • Is the process truly automated, or is the process of calling references outsourced?

  • What do I have to do to initiate the service or solution?

  • How are references contacted?

  • Are there multiple methods being used to contact references or just a single method?

  • If only one method- what if it does not work?

  • How many attempts will the service or solution make on a candidate?

  • How long will it take to get results back to me?

  • In what format will the results be presented ?

  • Is the price:  per candidate or subscription based?

  • Are reference questions customized to fit our company needs or standard by default?

  • Is this solution part of a bigger solution (ATS,HRIS) or a stand alone?  

  • If stand alone, can the solutions be integrated into an ATS or HRIS such as ICIMS, Greenhouse, ProSky, JobVite  etc…

  • Is the solution compliant with current HR standards and regulations?

Many questions need to be addressed to simply reach this conclusion:  The Cost of an Automated Reference Check is a fraction of the cost of a traditional reference check

What Is the Difference Between a Reference Check and Employment Verification?


A Reference check and an employment verification are two completely different steps in the hiring of an employee.  The stage at which they both take place is basically the only thing that they have in common.  Let’s begin answering the question above by breaking the two actions down with definitions.

Reference Check-  The process of getting information about a person from previous employers, schools, colleges, or other available sources including professional and personal peers.  

Employment Verification:  The practice of verifying the employment eligibility and the past work history of current or potential employees.

A reference check is a much broader tool than an employment verification.  It uses varying methods of collecting information from multiple sources which cover many aspects of the prospective employee’s life.  

The most frequently used sources:

  • Former managers in the workplace

  • Former peers in the work space

  • Current outside interest peers

  • Family members

  • Religious group peers

Areas of interest include:

  • Demonstrated work ethic

  • Personality traits

  • Cultural fit

  • Past behaviors as predictors of future behavior

  • Punctuality

In the past, most employers have conducted reference checks themselves. The outdated process consisted of:

  • Collecting the reference information from the candidate

  • Phoning each reference individually and asking a series of questions

  • Documenting responses for record keeping purposes

This process is time consuming and labor intensive. Advances in technology can automate the process for greater efficiency and improved time management.

Employment verification has a narrower focus than reference checks. The sole purpose of employment verifications is to confirm the various aspects of a candidate’s work history, such as:

  • Employment dates

  • Employment positions and responsibilities

  • Salary history (in some cases)

In some cases, the employment verification can include verifying Education Certification or License Certification.

Some of this verification is still done manually, but there are multiple database sources that companies can access to verify information.  In many cases, this can be done in conjunction with a background check.

Reference checks cover a much broader range of sources over a greater number of topics. Employment verifications simply verify information that was given during the application process.  These two time consuming but necessary steps of the hiring process are vital to considering a candidate’s suitability for employment.

Can I Text My References? - Of Course!

  • Adults 18-24 years old send and receive over 128 texts every day.

  • Adults 25-34 years old send and receive over 75 texts every day.

  • Adults 35-44 years old send and receive over 52 texts every day.

  • Adults 45-54 years old send and receive over 33 texts every day.

Over the years, we have spoken to Human Resource professionals and Volunteer Coordinators that have stated that reference checking is one of, if not the most laborious aspect of their jobs.  In fact, there many companies that have discontinued reference checking due to multiple reasons (none of which are valid reasons based on best practices).  The reason that continues to be a front runner is:  Time

  • “All I do I is leave voicemails”.

  • “I cannot get the reference to call me back”.

  • “I sent them an email”.

The problem is not the concept of reference checking; it is the method.  Technology has advanced in the communication world in such a way that it is virtually impossible for someone not to know who is trying to contact them using any mode e.g. telephone, email, text.

If you are working at your job and the phone rings, are you going to answer if it is not a familiar number?  My guess- No.

If you are working at your job and an email notification pops up from an unfamiliar email address, are you going to stop what you are doing to open it, let alone respond?  My guess is- No. At best you will file it away among the other 350  “nonurgent” emails that you received that day.  The average employee receives over 121 emails each day.

That leaves the last option:  Text

Looking at the texting statistics above tell the story. Nearly 90% of Americans have cell phones with 77% of that 90% owning a smartphone.

General conclusion: Everyone has a cell phone and everyone texts. Texting takes place at work, for work, on the commute, at home, at school, at soccer games, at lunch, on breaks, etc.

If I want to communicate with my kids, I send a text; I text my wife for a grocery list;  I text my mom the address to a soccer game; text a picture to my college buddies.  What do these activities have in common?  None of these are business-related activities . . . but wait!  I had a client last week ask me to, “Shoot me over your contact information to my cell.”  My wife, a Certified Real Estate Appraiser, communicates all day via text with her management companies and clients .

Texting is:

  • Immediate

  • Short

  • Effective

  • Efficient

Technology allows texting from multiple platforms; thereby, shifting the acceptable business communication methods paradigm.  For example:

Canvas - a revolutionary recruiting platform that utilizes texting to candidates.  

Reflynk - a revolutionary automated reference checking platform that utilizes mobile text and/or email to conduct reference checks.

SafeVisitor Solutions - a comprehensive visitor management platform that has multiple features that will notify using mobile texting.

So, can I Text My References? YES! if you want to get results. Fish where the Fish are as Communicate How the World Communicates.  

What is the Cost of a Reference Check?

What seems to be a simple question, can actually be very difficult and complex to answer. Are you asking . . .

●     what is the price of a reference check?

●     what is a reference check worth?

●     what is the value of a reference check?

●     what is the cost of a reference check?

This is where it gets tricky and will test your patience as you ferret out what the actual question is asking.  Let’s start with definitions:

●     price - the amount of money required to purchase something

●     worth - an expected selling price of a good or service over time

●     value - the usefulness or desirability of a good or service

●     cost - an amount of ??? that has to be given up in order to get something

Price vs Cost:  Price might or might not equal Cost depending on viewpoint.

For example:

“What is the price of a reference check?”  The asker is wanting an answer in $$$$.

“What is the cost of a reference check?”  The asker could be wanting to know a $$$ amount or the cumulative “cost” which involves the total time spent performing the check, the cost of the method used, etc.  

Value vs Worth:  Likewise, Value might or might not equal Worth depending on the viewpoint of the asker.

“What is the value of a reference check?”  This question can have many interpretations.  Rarely would or should this question be answered using a $$$ amount; rather, this question needs to be answered with a detailed explanation of the advantages vs. the disadvantages of performing a reference check.  After determining the specifics of the information desired in the reference check, a Value Cost in $$$ can be derived.

“What is a reference check worth?   Again, similar to using Value, this question can be very complex based on the information provided or the information already known.  Worth is normally measured over time,  therefore, the time is an element of consideration. A $$$ amount can be assigned to Worth, but only after calculations are analyzed over time, based on numerous business factors across multiple segments.

Looking back, the question of “What is the Price of a Reference Check?” can be as simple or as complex as the situation dictates. In most instances the asker may not know the many components that go into determining the correct answer. They are simply wanting a quick $$$ amount. 

At a glance, the questions below . . .

●     What is the price of a reference check?

●     What is a reference check worth?

●     What is the value of a reference check?

●     What is the cost of a reference check?

all seem to be asking the same thing, but in reality, they are four completely different questions with four completely different answers.

Learn how RefLynk can automate your Reference Checks