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Are Canadian Recruiters Consistent with Reference Checking?



How to avoid inconsistencies in your recruitment process

A good hire is a reflection of an effective recruitment process.

Reference checking is a crucial step in the hiring journey which often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

It isn’t a complicated task, at least it doesn’t have to be, but it is widely acknowledged that it should be done well to ensure each new hire is a positive addition to the business.  

Beyond validating a candidate’s cultural suitability, reference checking also plays a critical role in ensuring recruitment compliance.

In our most recent study (The Recruitment Risk Index: Canadian Industry Perspective) we surveyed more than 1000 job-seeking Canadians and 100 HR professionals, and uncovered a lack of consistency in the way reference checks are being conducted.

The risks of inconsistency

34% of HR and recruitment professionals admit their organisation doesn’t check references consistently for every hire.

This can be the result of the manual and conversational nature of the phone-based approach, which sees slightly different questions being asked and varied levels of information reported.  

This traditional and unreliable approach to the process can also lead to the risk of discriminatory questions slipping into the reference discussion. And this is something referees are concerned about. Our research told us that 40% of HR professionals worry about being asked questions they’re not comfortable with.

What can be done?

Organisations need to adopt a standardised approach to reference checking.

They must ensure that:

  • The same set of questions are asked for every reference per role
  • The reference is a suitable source of information AND
  • The final report can be relied upon, regardless of the individual leading the process

There’s room for improvement

The hiring journey can often feel like a long one, especially when old, manual processes are adopted.

The lack of efficiency and transparency can leave candidates in the dark.

Our research also found that:

  • 44% of the jobseekers surveyed said delays in reference checking alone have caused them anxiety
  • 33% had abandoned a job application because the process took too long
  • 91% of job-seeking Canadians want to be kept up to date with the progress of their application

Candidates are now more aware of the way a business should and shouldn’t conduct itself and their expectations are higher than ever. They are also in the position of power when it comes to choosing their place of work.

The Canadian HR industry needs to react to jobseekers’ expectations, and protect businesses from losing the best talent at the final, critical stage of the hiring process.

Data privacy is a rising concern

Data privacy is also becoming an increasing concern and is carrying heightened threats. 36% of HR professionals said they’d rather not provide a reference due to threat to their personal data, and the personal data of the candidate.

Organisations need to ensure they are conducting robust approaches that everyone will feel comfortable being involved in. Keeping up to speed with, and adopting, tech solutions can be a major contributor to a secure hiring process that meets data privacy compliance.

Canadian businesses are potentially putting themselves at risk with current outdated approaches to reference checking.

There is a need for a transparent, standardised approach that can not only help streamline the hiring process but also ensure that everyone involved is comfortable with it and avoid potential legal risks.

Reference questionnaire templates text with branded shapes

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