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Xref Online Reference Checking FAQs for Referees

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Former employer providing responses to online reference checks with Xref

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Xref Online Reference Checking FAQs for Referees

You may be asked to provide a reference for a coworker, professional contact or friend at some point in your career. Providing honest feedback about a candidate can help others and establish your credibility. 

Providing a reference may seem challenging so if you’re looking for advice on answering a reference checking questionnaire, look through our blog below.  Our post covers some of the most frequently asked questions by referees on online reference checking and tips that could be helpful before you begin the process of sharing your feedback on a candidate.

Who is a referee? 

A referee or reference is someone nominated by the candidate who gives a potential employer information about a candidate's past work experience, skills, character and conduct. This information backs up what a candidate has said on their CV and interview with a third party’s opinion.

What is a reference check? 

Reference checking is a process that verifies the information provided by the candidate; it could also include background checks on criminal records, education documentation, visa status etc. 

Why have I been selected to provide references?

If you’ve been contacted to provide employment references for someone you have worked with in the past, it’s because that person has shared your details for a reference check.

A potential employer prefers referees to be a contact from a previous employer, ideally, a line manager or someone with whom the candidate has worked closely. The objective is to validate what the candidate has said in their CV and interview. Reference checking also offers an employer valuable opinions and insight into a candidate's professional skills, traits and personality. 

Why are reference checks conducted?

A reference check is a valuable opportunity for a prospective employer to learn about the candidate from the perspective of their previous manager or colleagues. It is the only stage in the recruitment process that leverages the opinions of someone other than the candidate.

This insight can help the hiring manager gain a deeper understanding of who the candidate really is and how they applied or learnt the skills they have. A good reference check seeks to capture insights about the candidate’s reliability, communication, ability to collaborate and how they work as part of a team, among other aspects, depending on the role. Learning this information can be helpful for a manager to understand how this person will fit into their team and if they have what it takes to succeed in the role and manage the tasks that will be required of them.

General FAQs 

What is the Xref online reference checking tool?

 Xref is an automated online reference checking solution that makes reference, background and ID checking fast, simple and secure. It can be accessed from any device, anytime and anywhere. For more information, visit our post on General FAQs about Xref

How will the Xref process work for me?

You have been nominated to provide a written reference for a former employee/colleague. The potential employer has chosen to use Xref to gather your feedback - a secure platform that ensures your opinions will arrive without misinterpretation or amendment. To provide feedback, please click the link in the email sent to you by Xref.

From within the platform, you will be asked to:

  • Confirm your details
  • Confirm the dates the candidate worked with you
  • Provide feedback regarding the employment history of the candidate.

Once complete, the employer and candidate will be notified. If, after 3 days, the reference has not been completed, the candidate may choose to nominate an alternate referee.

The details listed about me are incorrect (job title, org, employment duration etc)

You can amend any of the details presented to you at this stage of the reference process; simply click on any of the text fields that require editing, delete the current information and enter the correct details.

How do you answer a reference question?‍

A reference check is conducted to verify information provided by a candidate. When it comes to responding to reference check questions, the best way is to be honest and give examples wherever possible of the candidate's skills and ability to perform.

What's the best way of filling a reference check?

For open-ended questions, what works best is if you could provide incidents that could highlight the skills of the candidate (e.g. the candidate's ability to manage a supervisory role or tight timelines).

Will the candidate read my answers?

Referee feedback is available on request; a candidate could get access to the feedback shared by the referees. 

What type of questions will I be asked?

You could be asked a mix of questions that range from essential questions about the candidate to personal attributes and role-specific questions. Here is what each of those question types could look like:

  1. Essential questions: These are questions that account for a candidate's previous employment and performance. For example, an essential question could include: “Please detail the nature of your working relationship (i.e. direct boss, etc).” and “What roles do you think they would be suitable for in the future?”.
  2. Personal attributes: These are questions that build a picture of a candidate’s professional personality. For example, a personal attribute question could include: “Can you please rate and describe their ability to use initiative when problem-solving?” and “Please rate and comment on their ability to learn”.
  3. Role-specific questions: Questions that provide insights into a candidate’s professional capabilities in light of the type of role they’re applying for. An example of a role-specific question could include: “Please rate and comment on their computer skills and ability to adopt new software.” and “Can you comment on the level of supervision they required? How well did they work autonomously?”

How safe is the information gathered from online reference checking?

Reliable online reference checking providers like Xref take data protection and security very seriously. Xref is ISO 27001 certified and built using the highest standard of security and quality management practices. Xref takes the necessary steps to ensure the data from thousands of organisations, candidates, and referees is secure. 

Is there anything that I should or should not say in a reference check?


  • Be honest about what you share.
  • If you can’t recall details, ask the candidate to refresh your memory about their accomplishments. 
  • Convey enthusiasm about the candidate’s ability to do the job well.
  • Keep the information factual.


  • Say something you don’t believe the candidate has the potential to do.
  • Answer inappropriate personal questions.

What if I am a ‘fake reference’?

As a referee, it’s advisable to avoid situations where you provide false information about a candidate. The details that you share should be honest and factual. 

Our unusual activity algorithm is built to identify and raise a red flag to the employer. 

Can I say no to a reference check?

Yes, you can say ‘no’ to a reference check.

Technical FAQs‍

Listed below are frequently asked questions specific to the Xref online reference checking questionnaire.

I’m having trouble accessing the link

There may be several reasons why you cannot access the link, if so, please try the following:

  • Check that you have an internet connection.
  • Web Browser - update your browser or use an alternative. Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer (Version 11) are all compatible browsers.
  • Cookies - delete your cache and cookies. This will be in your browser settings.
  • Try accessing the link on a different device.

If you are still having trouble, please submit a case to our support team using the same email address used to log in to Xref.

I cannot submit my reference?‍

Please make sure you have answered all the questions asked. If there is a drop-down and text question, you will need to rate and comment to submit. Finally, make sure you have ‘Reviewed’ and then 'Submitted' your reference by clicking through to the submit page.‍

‍I accidentally declined, is it possible to restart the process?‍

Please go back to the email from Xref and you will be able to re-access the original link and complete the process.

I haven't received an email to provide my reference?‍

Please check your junk/spam folder to ensure your Xref invite has not been filtered into it. If you cannot find an email from us please get in touch with our support team with the name of the candidate you are providing a reference for as well as your name and email address, this will allow us to look into the matter for you.

Providing Feedback

Providing reference checks is against company policy. What should I do?

The prospective employer requires written references for their records. If you’re unable to engage in the process please click on the ‘decline’ link in the email or from within the platform and the candidate will be asked for details of an alternative reference.‍

Can I find out more information about the role/position the candidate has applied for?‍

Xref is not part of the prospective employer’s decision-making process and any information shared would have to be at the discretion of the employer or the candidate. If you need more information, please speak with the candidate directly.‍

Will Xref contact me by phone?‍

Xref will not contact you by phone, you are only required to fill the online reference checking questionnaire. The advantage for you is that you can complete the Xref questionnaire in your own time and with the peace of mind that your thoughts and opinions will arrive securely and without amendment or misinterpretation. Should you not wish to engage in the Xref process, please click on the decline link in the email and the candidate will be asked for an alternative referee.

I’d like to use Xref for my recruiting needs. Can I get a demo?

Yes, we’d love you to give Xref a go. Sign up for a free Xref Lite account, and you’ll be able to reference your first candidate with a complimentary credit from us. Click here to get started

Don’t stress if you’ve been asked to provide a reference check for someone! As experts in reference checking, we can point you to more resources to simplify your feedback task. Feel free to read our blog on ‘3 Pro Tips for Giving a Good Reference’ or visit our resource section for more information.

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