Relying on references in the recruiting process

by Rose Sneyd03 Dec 2012

When it comes to checking references, a recent survey has revealed surprising insights into just how closely HR leaders rely on the personal referees provided by applicants.

These are some of the results of online polling conducted by Harris Interactive, on behalf of CareerBuilder, over August-September in the US. Around 2,500 hiring managers and HR practitioners participated in the survey.

Results revealed that hiring managers and HR practitioners do rely, to an extent, on references. Some 80% of employers said that they contact referee when evaluating potential employees and 16% of those respondents said that they would do so even before inviting the candidate to a job interview.

In terms of using information gathered from references, almost 70% of employers acknowledged having changed their minds about a candidate after having spoken with a referee. Perhaps surprisingly, almost half of those said that they came away with a less favourable opinion of the applicant while only 23% said that the referee gave them a more favourable opinion of the candidate than they had previously. This aligns with the finding that a significant majority of hiring managers have rung referees who did not have good things to say about a candidate whom they were supposed to be supporting.

On the other hand, a fairly large number of respondents said that they were unaffected by references. Thirty-one percent of hiring managers and employers said that they had never changed their minds about a candidate on the grounds of what a referee had to say.



  • by Debby Sheahan on behalf of Verify 3/12/2012 3:52:37 PM

    I work for a background screening company called Verify and having conducted many references over the years, both with positive and negative feedback, I have found that some clients are relying on these almost 100% in their decision making process. Some candidates exaggerate their achievements in their resumes and this has come out via the reference. An example - the referee wasn't aware of the information contained in the candidate's resume, but cleverly asked questions have found out some untruths. In this case, the client did not hire the candidate due to his integrity.
    I have also conducted fake references with someone purporting to have worked with the referee. In this case the client definitely did not hire. And as for negative feedback, it will depend on how much this would affect the candidate in the role he has applied for. Some clients may overlook the fact that a candidate came in late often, if he had the skills needed to do the job. Each reference is evaluated individually and according to the needs of the client, they will make their decision on the importance of the content received from referees.
    One thing to note is that it is important that the person conducting the reference should know how to delve for information.

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