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Torrens University Australia

"The main benefit is definitely the time-saving. But I also appreciate the candidate experience it offers, I like that the candidate drives the process." - Maureen Bell, Talent Acquisition Manager at Torrens University Australia

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The main benefit is definitely the time-saving. But I also appreciate the candidate experience it offers, I like that the candidate drives the process.


Number of candidates referenced annually


Turnaround time


References completed out of hours

Tell us a bit about you and Torrens University

I’m the talent acquisition manager for Torrens University Australia. We're responsible for recruiting for three brands; Torrens University Australia, which is our higher education brand; Think Education, which is predominantly vocational education and training and also the Media Design School, which is located in Auckland, New Zealand.

I've been in HR for close to 20 years, working across various areas of the profession. I've always felt very strongly about working in jobs that I've really enjoyed and for companies that have enabled me to do good work. So, I'm quite passionate about people joining the right roles and the right company where they can do their best work. I've never understood how people work in positions they don't enjoy, and I’ve been very fortunate in the fact that I've always chosen jobs and companies where I've loved what I do.

How has COVID-19 impacted your hiring?

We are very fortunate that we've not had to layoff anyone in our workforce due to COVID-19. And we're actually growing. We were always online; we offered a mixture of online and face-to-face teaching. So, when COVID hit, we went 100% online, and we did it really quickly. Everyone, including our international students who had to return home, was still able to study, and we have continued to receive enrolments for this year. We have students from over 100 countries around the world currently studying with us.

What hiring challenges do you face?

I think the biggest challenge is finding and attracting the right people. When you've got significant growth, it’s even harder to set yourself up, so you do attract the best staff. And this is something we're working on. It's not just as simple as putting an ad up on a job board. I think those days are long gone. It's about finding out where these people hang out, so to speak. Whether it be an association, a forum, a Facebook group, a blog they read, we have to find the best way to get in front of the right people.

What steps do you take to stand out?

We’re passionate about what we stand for. We've got core values that we live by; be good, be creative, be bold, be global, and begin and end with people. And we've just introduced another core value, which is be well. These values are not only stuck on the wall; they are spoken about. And Linda Brown, our CEO, also always talks about the fact that the students are at the heart of everything we do. And it really does comedown to that - I'm in talent acquisition, and I'm thinking about the student in everything I do.

Why and when was Xref introduced?

We were conducting references manually - it was taking a long time and there was a lack of consistency in the approach. So, my boss decided we should look into online reference checking options. We looked at three different platforms and I got my team involved, speaking to all three providers and giving their ratings for each option. Now, we never want to lose Xref!

I remember an occasion before we’d implemented Xref when we were hiring for quite a senior role, which required three references, it was an academic role and, as is often the case, the language and terminology used was difficult to accurately record. Then, because it was such a high-profile role, I had to spend a considerable amount of time editing the report. If we’d had Xref, I could have delivered beautiful reports typed out and shared exactly as they were written by the referee. It would generally have looked a lot more professional, and obviously would have saved me a lot of time.  

How are you using Xref and what have been the benefits?

We hire for all roles, casual, fixed-term, permanent, academic, non-academic, and shared services. We use Xref to conduct reference checks as part of our recruitment process for all of these roles. It’s great because we have a few different templates, but we’re focused on making them even more targeted for specific roles this year.  

The main benefit is definitely the time-saving. But I also appreciate the candidate experience it offers, I like that the candidate drives the process.

There was a real “wow factor” about Xref when we first introduced it. We use it so much now that that initial novelty has gone but it still surprises hiring managers. I might have hesitated to send some reference reports over to hiring managers in the past but now I just download them and send them on.

I also believe we now get a better quality of references because referees are able to complete it in their own time and because they will often write more in-depth answers than they might be willing or able to provide on a call.

I now actually like doing references! I used to hate the reference stage but now I can go in, press a few buttons andI’m done.

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