Recruitment Risk Index: An International Outlook

Xref, the cloud-based candidate referencing platform, was launched in 2011 by experienced HR and recruitment professionals. It was developed to address a key industry issue: the inefficiency, inconsistency and vulnerability of the traditional phone-based reference checking process. With hundreds of reference checks passing through the platform every day, Xref is confident the solution it offers clients helps to tackle reference checking pain points and helps clients understand their industry, market, their talent pool, and the solutions available to them. 

During 2016 and 2017, Xref commissioned four research projects to identify the risks and challenges facing HR professionals, candidates and referees during recruitment, with insights obtained through an analysis of the reference checking process:

  • Australian Xref Recruitment Risk Index (2016)
  • Australian Xref Recruitment Risk Index: Industry Perspective (2017)
  •  Xref Recruitment Risk Index: The State of UK Referencing (2017)
  • Xref Recruitment Risk Index: A Canadian Industry Perspective (2017)

These reports confirmed that phone-based referencing has become a significant burden for HR professionals — and one in which they see little value. They also exposed the widespread inefficiency and under-utilisation of good reference checking practices, and demonstrated that the perceived risk of the process currently outweighs value. 

In addition to painting a picture of how the reference checking process manifests differently in each of the countries, this report uncovers the answers to four key questions: 

  • Stretching the truth — how does each country shape up against the rest for candidate deception? - While there are variations in what candidates from each country are willing to own up to, people in all three markets did admit to using similar misleading tactics and methods in the hopes of securing a role.
  • Recognised benefits of reference checking — where do we see the most value placed on the process? - If businesses are conducting reference checks, but not maximising the data for efficiency, better hires and employee management, then the process holds little value. Businesses across international markets are not realising the valuable insights reference data can provide, and how it can be used to benchmark future candidates and guide employees’ professional development.
  • Process inconsistencies — which countries’ organisations are at risk from poorly managed practices? - The research has found that inexperience often leads to discriminatory and even illegal questions being asked about potential candidates during phone-based reference checks, as their conversational nature can lead those conducting them to ask questions that blur the lines between personal and professional. 
  • Inefficient recruiting — what volume of candidates are lost in each country due to process delays? - Traditional recruitment processes are leaving employers overworked, inefficient and unproductive, which is leading to a loss of good talent. 


Download the report below to read all the statistics and trends.

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