online 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!

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.


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

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