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How WPP Improved Clarity and Accuracy with Online Referencing

Discover how advertising agency, WPP, improved the clarity and accuracy of their reference checking process with Xref.

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“Xref offers us the evidence we need to feel confident about the decisions we make”


References completed out of hours


Average reference turnaround time


Number of candidates referenced

Tell us a bit about you and WPP

WPP is the largest marketing and communications group globally. In Australia and New Zealand, we have 5,500 people across 85 agencies and we have 14 people in the internal talent team.

I’m passionate about people. We work in a people industry and business and I’m a recruiter at heart so that’s really important to me personally.

What made WPP AUNZ move over to automated reference checks?

It’s all well and good looking at reference checking as a tick box, but in our business, it’s really important that everything is clear, concise, factual and accurate.

Before Xref, we were doing old fashioned, clunky references. They were inefficient and we couldn’t be confident in their compliance.

When we met with Xref three years ago, it just seemed like a no brainer. We have looked at other systems, but nothing has compared to Xref in terms of ease of use.

I was one of the first people to use Xref and there was obviously a major focus from a compliance perspective to ensure that it met all the criteria required. The fact that Xref is so easy to use and allows us to be compliant has been a breath of fresh air.

What have been some of the benefits you’ve seen since introducing Xref?

Put it this way - I couldn’t do my job without Xref! I simply wouldn’t have enough hours in the day.

The ease of the platform is a major differentiator. It doesn’t surprise me that almost 50% of our references are completed outside of our business hours. We’ve got a really diverse workforce, so we're often looking for talent from overseas. Xref makes that global recruitment process so much easier.

Our new starters are always particularly surprised by how easy Xref is to use and how quickly they can get up and running on it.

There have also been six cases of potential fraud detected since we started using Xref and I believe we’ve decided to revoke offers on each of those candidates as a result. Often you will have a gut feeling about a person and then a fraud flag will show up on Xref and confirm your concerns. We’re constantly interviewing and meeting people so there may be things we miss, Xref offers us the evidence we need to feel confident about the decisions we make.

What industry challenges are you overcoming?

Our industry typically has quite an informal referencing culture, because everyone is so well connected.

When you think about issues such as diversity and discrimination, that informal approach doesn’t hold any weight. The fact that we’ve been able to tailor our questions to be relevant to us, our industry and what we need, has helped make sure we’re bringing the right people on board. Or if there are any uncertainties, we’re seeing them early on in the reference checking process.

Today, we won’t accept references from anywhere other than Xref. If we engage a recruitment agency, all candidates have to be put through Xref.

I would recommend the Xref team and platform to anyone.

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