Q&A Series
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Xref Online Reference Checking FAQs for Employers


Xref Online Reference Checking FAQs for Employers

Listed below are some of the frequently asked questions by employers about Xref.

How does Xref work?

Step 1: The candidate shares details of his references. 

Step 2: You send the references a reference questionnaire using an inbuilt template or a customised one. 

Step 3: Referees submit the required information. You get to see the progress of the reference check.

General FAQs

Why should I check candidate references?

Validating what a candidate has told you with a third-party employment reference will help you avoid bad hires and ensure you are recruiting with confidence. Reference questions also provide an opportunity to qualify your own perceptions of a candidate’s capabilities, and will provide added value by revealing missing skills or any areas of development so you can accurately assess any training the candidate might require. In some industries, you may be required to show why a candidate was accepted or rejected for a role. A formal reference check document provides an audit trail you can use to demonstrate compliance with these industry regulations. 

What reference check questions should I ask?

  1. Your first question should aim to define the relationship between the candidate and the reference and the details of their employment (such as job title, dates of employment, and responsibilities and remuneration).
  2. Next, ask the reference to assess the candidate’s past performance and identify their relevant core competencies.
  3. Then, enquire about any areas the reference believes require improvement, why the candidate left the business, and whether they would re-employ them.
  4. Finally, end with an open question that encourages the reference to share any additional information they feel is important. 

Here is a detailed blogpost if you’d like to know more.

At what stage in the hiring process should I check references?

References are typically taken after the interview stage to validate the information the candidate has provided and seek clarification on any questions or concerns you may have. However, taking references before the interview stage can also be an excellent strategy to build a strong pre-interview shortlist and minimise time wasted interviewing unsuitable candidates. Either way, it’s important to inform the candidate when you’ll be contacting their references to ensure they have been notified that you will be in touch for a job reference. 

Who can give an employment reference? 

Giving a reference is an important responsibility. Most hiring organisations have different policies and preferences when it comes to the type of references that are accepted. References could vary depending on the role that's being filled.

Supervisors as references:  Direct managers or supervisors are typically preferred as they’ll usually be able to provide the most useful relevant performance information.
Colleagues as references: Colleagues may be able to provide an insight into how the candidate builds relationships with co-workers.
Subordinates as references: For management positions, interviewing the candidate’s subordinates can be useful for assessing their management style and whether they are a good cultural fit for your organisation. 

Personal references: It’s usually best to keep personal reference check questions to a minimum, and be careful to verify that the reference is who the candidate claims they are.   

How many references should I ask each candidate to provide?

While it’s standard across most industries to request at least two references per candidate, some organisations require three or more. Many companies use the candidate’s seniority and level of experience as a guide. For example, two references may be sufficient when hiring for a junior role, while recruiting a senior executive may call for a more extensive referencing process. Xref recommends a minimum of two reference checks per candidate. 

How should I treat negative feedback during a reference check?

When giving written reference check answers, references tend to feel more accountable for the information they provide and may be more inclined to offer negative feedback or constructive criticism. 

Negative feedback may not automatically disqualify a candidate, but it can be very helpful to understand how to best manage an otherwise good candidate and where they may require further development and training. 

Following up a bad reference check with a phone call to the reference is a great way to further explore negative feedback. You may also want to talk through any issues with the candidate for balance. Bear in mind also that candidates are entitled to ask you to provide a copy of their reference’s feedback if they feel they have been inaccurately portrayed.  

Should I customise reference questions for each specific role?

A job reference should never be a tick-box exercise. To get the best result, you should ask employment reference check questions that are customised for each specific role. 

Every role requires different core competencies, technical expertise and soft skills, a reference check offers a vital opportunity for you to confidentially assess how the candidate measures up. 

However, you might like to create an employment reference check form or template for the roles you’re commonly hiring for. 

Are there any questions I shouldn’t be asking?

It is illegal to ask any employment reference check questions that may reveal potentially discriminatory information. This includes the candidate’s age, whether the candidate has children, the candidate’s marital status and their sexual orientation. According to the Xref Recruitment Risk Index, up to 29 per cent of those that had acted as a reference had been asked discriminatory questions. It’s vital to know your legal responsibilities to avoid any potential discrimination claims.  

How can I compare references from competing candidates?

This can be very subjective and it’s important to be aware of bias. Try to keep job reference questions as similar as possible between candidates applying for the same role so you can make like-for-like comparisons. However, using a tech platform like Xref is the only way to really ensure consistency in candidate comparison. Xref provides a secure, detailed analysis based on collected data for each candidate to help ensure your comparisons are fair, accurate and reliable.  

How can I encourage references to be as honest as possible? 

Written employment references tend to be most effective. People are usually more likely to take accountability for written references as opposed to feedback given verbally. It’s also easier for references to deflect or give incomplete responses during a phone conversation than it is when providing written responses to set questions. Using a tech platform like Xref demonstrates to the reference that there is an audit trail in place and that any dishonesty is likely to be uncovered. 

Setting up your account

How do I create a new user?

Account administrators are able to set up new users and deactivate anyone who is no longer using the account. Once logged in, the account admin will need to click on the settings/gear icon in the top right- hand corner and select 'Manage Users' followed by 'Create New User' (again, in the top right corner). Then simply follow the prompts to submit the new user’s details.If you would like to find out who within your account has administrative access please contact your Customer Success Manager.

How can I delete the email address that I have entered for my candidate?

If the candidate has not received an email due to an incorrect email address, please delete the previous request for references and create a new Xref with the correct/updated email address. You can do this when you log into the Xref platform and will receive an automatic reimbursement for the credit used upon deleting the initial Xref request.

My candidate is yet to receive an email from Xref?

Ensure that your candidate has checked their spam/junk folders for any correspondence from us. If nothing is discovered please ensure that you have used a valid email address for their request. If the email address is valid, please contact our support team and we will look into the matter for you.

Setting up your reference template

How do I set up a new reference template?

You can upload a new questionnaire by logging into Xref and going to the ‘Questionnaires’ page. You will be able to review the different questionnaires (templates) you currently have set up and upload any new ones you would like to have included.

How do I exchange an existing reference template?

If you want to make any changes to a questionnaire (template) that is already set up, simply navigate to the ‘Questionnaires’ tab and click on ‘New Questionnaires’. Here you can upload a document that details the name of the questionnaire and the questions you would like to edit, remove or add.

There is no limit to how many questionnaires you can have on your account. For best practice tips or advice on questionnaires, please contact your Customer Success Manager.

Managing Your Xref Requests

How do I cancel or delete a reference?

If an Xref is ‘Pending’, you have the option to delete or cancel the request.

You can only 'Delete' an Xref (and have the credit returned to your account) if the candidate has not already entered the details of their reference provider. If they have entered their details, the only option will be to ‘Cancel’ the request. This will ensure no more automated reminder emails are sent out.

Once a request has been canceled, it will move to the ‘Archived’ section.

Can I replace the candidates reference provider?

Yes, the Xref platform is SSL secure and ISO certified. Only candidates have the ability to replace their unresponsive or declined reference provider by following any of the login links Xref has emailed to them.

Once they have entered their details, the new reference will immediately receive an email from Xref. You can track all of these changes in the Lifecycle section. To see the Lifecycle, simply click on the candidate’s name in the ‘Xref Requests’ page.

How can I track the progress of a reference?

All Xref's have a Lifecycle that logs all activity associated with a reference request. This includes updates on your own activity, as well as that of candidate and reference provider. It also tracks and records all automated reminder emails that are sent.

To see the Lifecycle, simply click on the candidate’s name on the ‘Xref Requests’ page. You can view all status icon definitions from the ‘Xref Requests’ page, by hovering over the 'References’ information icon.

Can a candidate add additional references to a request that has already been completed?

Yes, please let Customer Success know and we can unlock the request for you so the candidate has the ability to add another reference.

What does unobtainable mean?

'Unobtainable' means that all reminder emails have been sent to the reference but they have not completed the check. The candidate is encouraged to either follow up with their referee or submit details of an alternative referee.

Even when an Xref is ‘Unobtainable’ the referee’s login link will remain active and, if the referee chooses to, they can complete the reference as normal.

You can view all status definitions from the ‘Xref Requests’ page, by hovering over the 'References’ information icon.

Do candidates and references receive reminder emails?

Automated reminder emails are sent to both candidates and references.

Once your request is made the candidate is immediately emailed and asked to provide details of their previous employers via Xref. If candidates do not action this initial request they will receive reminder emails after 24, 36 and 48 hours.

As the employer, you will receive notifications alongside these emails so that you are aware of any delays in the process.

It is important to prepare your candidates and bring them up to speed with the Xref process before making a request, so they can immediately action the email and ensure references are returned quickly.

I can’t find a candidate in the system, what do I do?

Please ensure you adjust the date parameters accordingly and also check if the request is in the 'Archived' section. If you are still unable to find the candidate, please contact Customer Success.

Other Xref Related Questions

I want a free demo, who do I contact?

Click here to get in touch with sales.

Why is Xref better than checking references manually? 

If your current process involves manual calls to referees, you would be spending lots of work hours on verification, not to forget the time spent on phone tag. With Xref, your verification process speeds up as it operates during and outside of working hours including weekends till the checks are complete.

How long does a reference check take? 

Reference checks can be done in as little as 24-36 hours

What information is provided in the reference report?

A reference check report gives you information on how long the candidate was in the role they are being referenced for, the turnaround time for the reference, a sentiment analysis which picks up positive and negative language used by the referee, word count and how well your candidate measures up against other candidates.

What information is provided in the reference analysis?

Our expert team has developed a sentiment analysis which picks up on the positive and negative language used by the referee, to give you an indication of the candidate’s performance and whether the referee recommends the candidate for this position.

Can I customise the questions a reference is asked?

Yes, you can. You can either use a template from our list of questions or use questions of your own.

Can I create different questionnaires for different roles? 

Yes, you can. You have the option of creating templates for different levels for which you hire, junior, mid, senior. 

What happens if a reference declines the invitation? 

Preferably your candidate should contact his list of references in advance. If a reference declines, you could send out a new reference to a new referee. Xref has a lifecycle feature where you can monitor every activity on a reference request.

Can I track the progress of a reference request?

Yes, you can. Xref has a lifecycle feature where you can monitor every activity on a reference request. This includes your activity, the candidate’s activity, the referee’s activity and when any automated reminder emails have been sent out. 

Does Xref integrate into my existing HR platform and apps?

Xref has been designed to integrate with HR platforms and apps to create a seamless recruitment flow. You could get in touch with our customer success team to understand how best the integration can work out for your organisation.

Does Xref protect my business from fraudulent candidates?

The Xref system can detect potentially suspicious activity during a reference check such as matching IP address, matching operating system and internet browser of the candidate and referee. Unusual activity alerts are based on data collected and managed by Xref and are intended to alert you to possible suspicious activity. We recommend that your team has a look at the unusual activity alerts and investigate before proceeding to hire. 

How long does Xref take to set up?

Xref can be integrated into your HR platform and set up in as little as 24 hours.

Is Xref suitable for small businesses?

Yes, Xref is suitable for all kinds of hiring needs from small and medium businesses to large enterprise set ups.

What support services does Xref offer? 

Our support teams are here if at any point you get stuck when requesting a reference or have any questions on pricing and integrations, you can simply submit an enquiry.

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