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How to Choose the Right Reference Checking Software

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Reference checking software helps recruiters automate the otherwise lengthy process of manually contacting candidates. Issues with traditional phone-based methods are well known, but chances are that even if you have upgraded to an automated approach, you might still not see the best results. 

Spending time choosing the right software will help you avoid hiring the wrong candidates. So, if you’re on the fence about whether you should move from manual to automated or upgrade your existing software, this blog throws light on various aspects of selecting and investing in the right reference checking provider.

Signs that it’s time to change your reference checking process

As an HR lead, sometimes it’s hard to determine whether it’s time to change your process or technology; here are some telltale signs that indicate that it’s time for a change: 

  1. Recruitment delays: This is the most common and obvious indication that your current recruitment process needs to change. When you’ve identified a great candidate, done all your due diligence, and spent time interviewing them, the last thing you want to hear is that you lost them to competition due to recruitment delays at your end. If you’re still using traditional phone-based methods, it can add days, if not weeks, to your recruitment task. Upgrading to an online reference checking solution will offer you faster turnaround times. 
  2. Poor compliance: Reference checking involves gathering a large amount of information, making data security and privacy a sensitive issue. Hiring companies and HR teams need to make reasonable security arrangements and protect the gathered information. If you’re unsure about the processes and protocols you have in place to ensure your data is secure, then the chances are you either don’t have any, or they’re not very good! While online reference checking tools should offer the assurance that these concerns are being looked after, it’s best to check that your provider offers the right level of security and compliance measures so that you can conduct your references with peace of mind.  
  3. Lack of flexibility: Businesses tend to use the same reference checking questions for every role. We have ten years of experience that strongly suggests each role should have specific questions to help hiring managers make an informed choice. You may already have an online reference checking solution in place but what you should ensure is that you can tailor the entire reference checking process to deliver more valuable insights. 
  4. Inconsistent approaches: For many businesses, the reference checking process is done manually by different people depending on the role and department. This could lead to inconsistencies in the way questions are asked, and responses are noted. Reference checking is most useful when it is well structured and consistent. A standard process allows unbiased opinions and brings fairness to the hiring activity. This ensures that every candidate is given the same opportunities and makes it possible to benchmark talent with consistent insights. 
  5. Missing insights: You can improve your hiring decision with data gathered from referee feedback. A reliable online reference checking tool provides valuable information on the candidate. It can help you understand a candidate’s potential and suitability for the job at hand, so you can better plan your onboarding. When you’re down to deciding whom you’ll pick for the role, it may be helpful to see how they compare with other candidates. 
5 Signs it's time to change reference checking process

Still using manual referencing checking methods?

If you’re asking yourself the question, should I automate my reference checking process?”, here are several reasons why the answer should be yes.

  • Referees are unprepared: Nobody wants to take a phone call on the fly to talk about current or past employees. Even when sending out an email to schedule time in advance, referees are unlikely to have well-versed responses to all questions. Referees prefer to get sufficient time to review the questions and prepare their answers, to ensure they are providing honest and detailed feedback on behalf of the candidate.  
  • Time constraints: Not all referees have time for  a long phone conversation. While most would be happy to act out of goodwill, the more accommodating you are, the quicker you’ll get the information to complete your hiring process.
  • The risks of rushing referencing: When the pressure is on to fill a role, it can be tempting to hand reference checking to someone else. Perhaps an intern or junior recruiter who can rush through the process like a checklist that just needs to be ticked off. This will make your company look unprofessional and put the onus on someone with little understanding of the role or the candidate’s recruitment journey.
  • Phone tag: The number one gripe for all recruiters conducting reference checks is phone tag, even when you’ve scheduled a call with a referee. There are days when phone calls between recruiters and busy referees simply don’t work out. 
  • Inconsistencies in references Each recruiter has their own way of approaching a referencing task, which means that the interpretation of a referee's information could be very different from one to the next. A standard and structured approach ensures a referee’s feedback is collected verbatim, regardless of the recruiter driving the process.  
Why should you Automate reference checking process

Questions to ask when evaluating reference check software platforms

Software for your business can be expensive not just to buy but also to maintain. To avoid making mistakes, here’s a checklist of questions you should be asking:

1. What legacy does the platform have? 

You need to invest in reliable and future-ready technology. A good starting point is looking at the company’s background and the other services under its belt. Knowing what a business has to offer can give you an insight into its potential growth and scalability. It is helpful to understand how this technology could benefit your business long-term instead of just serving as a simple, quick fix in the short term. Also, take a look at who the business is partnered with to check that other well-established brands trust it. A tech provider’s legacy is often reflected in the brands that support it and partner with it.

2. What data security does the company offer? 

Data protection is crucial for all hiring teams. Doing your due diligence to know that the tech provider you're looking into has good security measures in place is critical to ensuring you're investing in a solution that can be trusted to collect and store your data securely. Measures such as GDPR compliance and ISO certification are a good indication of this. Information about how your data will be handled should be readily available from the provider, but if you’re still in doubt, you should ask to read a copy of their privacy policy.

3. What are other people saying about the tech? 

Online reviews can help cut through marketing noise and see how the product solves clients’ problems. Crowd review sites can help you discover or validate your opinion on certain software. Review sites can also indicate the organisation’s ability to cater to various client needs. If you’re close to deciding on investing, ask to speak with an existing customer or client in a similar business for insights relevant to your specific needs. Be sure to note any negative reviews and notice if the business has responded with a positive solution or an opportunity to talk offline. Depending on the circumstance, not responding to multiple negative reviews could be a red flag to be wary of.

Also, look out for activity and positive brand engagement on the provider’s social media pages. When brands post about their product, partners, reviews, awards and media mentions, it says a lot about their offering. 

4. What support does the company offer? 

Before investing in any tech, it is essential to determine what level of support will be available to you. You want to be sure that several communication lines open to you after the sale has taken place if you need them. You also want to ensure the business provides adequate in-platform training and guides that you can access anytime you need. Finally, it’s helpful to understand if the company has local in-house support teams who can help you during your business hours and on time.

5. Are there any hidden costs? 

Ensure that the software and support are built into your contract before purchasing. Beware that this is the area where companies make most of their profit. Some companies count on you returning with requests for customisations of the software, and that’s where they bill additional expenses. 

6. Is implementation easy? 

You want to choose software that users will be able to adopt quickly and easily. Selecting a complex tool that is hard to understand and takes a considerable amount of time to master will negatively affect usability rates.  You’ll also want to look for software that integrates with your current ATS and HR platforms. Having an integrated solution avoids the hassle of switching platforms through your recruitment workflow. 

How to trust providers, brand shapes on grey

What increases the credibility of a software

1. Certifications

With continuous changes to standards regulations set by, businesses need to constantly adapt and provide assurances that they are in line with the latest rules and best practices. One of the ways companies do this is by obtaining ISO certifications.. Xref is ISO 27001 certified, offering globally compliant data collection and storage. It also meets all government-based regulatory requirements to ensure every candidate is assessed fairly. 

2. Google reviews

Transparency is becoming increasingly important for consumers. Reviews on Google provide valuable information about your business to customers as end-users share their favourite or least favourite experience. Over 60% of customers check Google Reviews before they visit a business. They're looking for social proof and reassurance that your business is right for them. Xref has 486 Google reviews and a 4.7 star overall rating. 

3. G2 reviews

G2, the world’s leading business solution review platform, leverages 1M+ user reviews to drive better purchasing decisions. Business professionals, buyers, investors, and analysts use the site to compare and select the best software and services based on peer reviews and synthesised social data. Every month, millions of people visit G2’s site to gain unique insights. Xref has 174 positive reviews on the G2 platform and many badges that validate it as the top reference checking software.

4. Capterra reviews

With more than 1.7 million verified software reviews published, Capterra offers the most robust, user-driven perspective on software in the world.  Their robust quality assurance process supports this information. Xref has 72 positive reviews and a 4.7/5 rating on Capterra. 

5. Case studies

Case studies are real examples of a brand’s ability to solve clients’ problems. There’s no better way of storytelling in business than using a customer’s experience in a data-backed case study. Xref has some power-packed customer success stories and YouTube videos that demonstrate the ease and simplicity of using the platform. 

Review software credibility lsit, brand shapes on purple

What makes Xref the #1 Reference Checking Software

User’s from staffing, hospital, healthcare, IT, not-for-profit and more have all shown their satisfaction with using the Xref platform through their rating on G2. G2 is a world-leading crowd review platform that gathers verified, unbiased, authentic feedback. Xref ranked #1 among the top nine reference checking software providers on G2. 

Here’s what the G2 satisfaction scores reveal:

  • 95% say Xref is easy to use
  • 95% of reviewers find it is easy to do business with Xref
  • 94% affirm the quality of Xref customer support 
  • 95% of reviewers say Xref meets their requirements
  • 93% find Xref easy to set up
  • 91% confirm the ease of admin 
Xref Ranked number 1 graphic, brand shapes on grey

Software that’s voted easiest to use

Xref has also ranked #1 as the easiest to use reference checking software. This product usability score is calculated on user satisfaction ratings of how easy the tool is to administer and how well the product meets business requirements. Designed to support small, mid-market and enterprise businesses, Xref caters to the need of all kinds of hiring teams to recruit the best candidates for their organisation with simplicity and ease.

Quarterly reviews on G2 are a clear indication of our users' confidence in our software. These reviews have led Xref to the #1 spot in the reference checking category along with other noteworthy accolades such as: 

Best Relationship

The ‘Best Relationship’ badge is based on the overall satisfaction that the reviewer had from using our product. Receiving this badge demonstrates the impact our fantastic platform and team have in delivering a seamless, global, round-the-clock solution to reference checking. 

Most Implementable

The Implementation score indicates our customer’s satisfaction with the set-up process and the amount of time required to go live. Xref creates the ultimate reference checking experience, from understanding a customer’s needs to implementing a tool that integrates with HR platforms in the shortest go-live time period.

Highest User Adoption

The ‘Highest user adoption’ badge is reflective of our clients’ trust in using our reference checking tool. We believe in the importance of user experience, ease of onboarding, and seamlessly integrating into the current recruitment workflows. The higher percentage of users adopting our solution is an accurate reflection of our product and customer experience.

Best Usability

G2 rates products and vendors based on reviews gathered from our user community and data aggregated from online sources and social networks. They then apply a unique, patent-pending algorithm to this data to calculate the product's Usability score. Receiving the best usability badge is a clear indicator of the ease of use that our users have found with Xref.

Xref G2 spring 2021 badges, brand shapes on grey

What gives users confidence in our software

  • More free time for recruiters: Xref is a reliable online reference checking solution that conducts reference checks outside of working hours and timezones. It removes the hassle of manual calling and frees the recruiter from admin-related tasks.
“Great for getting references in another time zone, easy to alter questionnaire. We use Xref on a weekly basis and our hiring managers find the reports easy to follow and understand. I have used Xref at two companies now and at both places, it's been a breeze. One of the best reasons we keep using Xref is that it saves us TIME!” Helena v, People & Operations Advisor
  • Works at the convenience of the referee: Busy referees don’t always have time for a call; online reference checking allows them to respond at a time convenient for them.
“I like how easy it makes it to conduct references which usually take up a fair amount of time to complete. People are also generally more willing to complete references this way as it takes less time for them to complete and they can do it in their own time. It is easy to use once you have learnt how to do so. The follow-up emails to the candidate are good reminders for them to complete the Xref and follow up with their referees. Easy to access the information given and easy to download. I like that you can filter the information that you save to send to the client/manager. It is easy to build a template of what you want to be asked in the reference which is useful when you have different roles you are recruiting for as not all questions will be applicable to all positions.” Kate E, HR Admin
  • Better than manual calling: You don’t have to deal with the tiresome task of manually calling and unprepared referees. With an online reference checking solution, you avoid the loop of phone tag with referees, which sometimes happens even when you’ve scheduled a time to talk. Online reference checking gives a referee sufficient space to recall details about the candidate's past employment. 

The hiring team at McDonald’s are a great example of a team that switched from manual to automated reference checking. They relied on phone-based calling and a manual process of recording feedback from referees. Moving to an automated solution has helped save time and bring better overall efficiency to their recruitment process. 

McDonalds logo, brand shapes on grey

  • Flags suspicious activity: Reference fraud happens more than you think.  ‍A reliable online reference checking system can detect suspicious activity and flag any potentially fraudulent movements. The Xref platform has detected more than 500 cases of unusual activity per month in the last six months. Our customers are automatically notified of unusual activities, such as two people accessing the questionnaire from the same IP address. In some instances, this may not be the reason to disqualify the candidate, but it can certainly assure you about the accuracy of feedback that you will receive. 

The hiring team at Lion shared their experience of the unusual activity detection tool in action. This opened up a channel for them to speak with the candidate and clear up the misunderstanding. It has added value to their recruitment process knowing that an extra level of security is in place.

Lion logo, brand shapes on grey

  • Automation speeds up the recruitment process: Hiring teams are always in a rush to close positions; the Xref tool can automate the last but crucial step to speed up the hiring process. This may save you from losing your candidate to the competition if they have multiple offers on the table.
"Xref automates the reference checking process which saves me a significant amount of time on follow up with referees and provides me with a comprehensive report. Because it's automated, I am also able to obtain references from referees on the other side of the world when I am asleep! It's great." - James S, Head of Human Resources
  • Customisation gives greater flexibility: The ability to tailor the entire reference checking process with custom branding, bespoke communication with candidates and references, and unlimited reference templates that can be added with ease, creates a better experience for everyone involved and delivers more informative insights. 
"When we reviewed our questionnaire, we added in questions that would provide more insight into the candidate’s suitability to work with potentially vulnerable adults, for example." Jennifer Murray, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Global Student Accommodation (GSA)
  • Provides insights to benchmark candidates: Insights gathered from Xref’s online reference checking tool can help you hire smarter. Data-driven insights can move your decision from a gut feeling to a dependable choice; the same insights can stop you from making a bad hire. When people are your greatest asset, you want to hire right the first time, every time.
"I like the ease of functionality so much quicker than doing references myself. It is also secure and provides insights into whether a reference is good or bad before I even go into the detail of reading it. Also, it integrates really well with my recruitment system (Springboard) which I have found with other systems this is not always the case. Xref support and Account Managers are also really helpful. If you need something updated, they are very timely in their response. I also like that they aren't always constantly in contact trying to sell additional products or features." Talisha W, Talent Acquisition Lead
  • Integrates well with ATS: Busy HR teams don’t have time to switch between applications; a seamless system can help you change from manual to automated solutions resulting in better productivity. 
G2 customer quote, brand shapes on grey

  • Quick and easy to use: You don't lose out on the right candidate: Great talent is always sought after by eager employers and good job offers; in such cases, time is of the essence. 
"It is the simplest reference checker, you have all the forms you might need to use, you just need to provide a link to your prospect and they do the rest, you then just have to make sure all references are as complete as you wish to have them, at no point you need to interact with those giving out the reference, which is really important when you are time-limited. the time is really attentive, they provide the training and help you down your learning curve when you are implementing for the first time or when there are major improvements, they adjust to your schedule as much as they can so you do not have to be joining a webinar at five in the morning or really late at night." Andrea Fabiola M, Senior Recruiter & Relationship Manager
  • Stellar Customer support: You want to be sure that several communication lines remain open to you if you need them after the sale has taken place. 
G2 customer quote, 4.5 stars, brand shapes on grey

Software that works alongside human teams

We’ve been in the business for more than ten years; intentional focus on our customers’ success drives everything we do. While we pride ourselves on easy to use technology, we are also backed by an outstanding global customer service team that ensures timely and quality support. Businesses will often claim that their people are one of their greatest assets; at Xref that is definitely the case. Our expert customer success team, in particular, offers our customers an unrivalled service from the minute they sign up as an Xref user, with:

  • regular check-ins 
  • product updates 
  • round the clock support 
  • optimal referencing advice 

Benefits of reliable software

Reference checking can do wonders for your hiring process; here are some benefits you might not yet have considered:

  • Minimises the risks of hiring the wrong candidate: If you hire the wrong candidate, you risk having to rehire for the role soon thereafter. Accurately checking a candidate’s background can help you make confident hiring decisions.
  • Creates a fair and standardised recruitment process: Meeting all regulatory requirements ensures that every candidate is assessed fairly. When the reference checking process follows best practices, it creates a system for fair hiring. 
  • Long term effect on talent attraction: When you hire the right candidates, you’ll have happy employees that thrive in your organisation. This, in turn, will create a better employer brand and attract more great candidates in the future.
  • Creates efficient workplaces: Reference checking helps you validate candidates and build efficient teams and workplaces. 
  • Crucial for positions of trust: Some sectors require more attention than others, including health and aged care providers, which are complex in their requirements as they cater to vulnerable communities.  It’s crucial that the right people are hired for these positions of trust. Having robust recruitment processes in place to ensure candidates are who they say they are and have the experience they claim to have is critical to establishing an audit-proof hiring record that guarantees the right level of care and protection for the clients and patients of these organisations. 

Compare your software to Xref

Reference check benefits list, brand shapes on grey

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking to switch from a manual process or upgrade your current system, ensure the software you opt for is simple, efficient, secure, hassle-free and offers the support you need and when you need it. 

Why not try Xref? We’d love to give you the customer experience our client’s worldwide love; reach out to us for a free demo.

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