SmartRecruiters Blog

3.8 Reference Checks Per Candidate

How many reference checks should a smart employer average? And how does a smart employer have time to properly reference check? aims to make hiring smarter by providing an average of 3.8 reference checks per candidate.

Reference checking has been shown to be a useful predictor of job performance (as measured by supervisory ratings), training success, promotion potential, and employee turnover, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. Co-chair of the HR Technology Conference Steve Boese recently wrote, “The potential insights that can be gathered about a candidates from people they have worked with in the past should be some of the most valuable information a recruiter could ask for and ought to be factored into the screening process and the hiring decision.”

So, why are more hiring managers not doing it? Reasons range from spending too much time tracking down references to receiving unreliable data. We’re here to debunk the myths of reference checks, and offer solutions.

Less Time, Better Data

Research from the Society for Human Resources shows that 96 percent of HR professionals conduct reference checks, yet less than 25 percent of those checks produce adequate information beyond employment verification. Why? Hiring managers often treat references as a formality – merely one more thing that needs to be checked off the to-do list. As a result, references are often muddled through as quickly as possible to simply verify employment dates and titles. However, this can rob you of valuable data that could prove a critical step in the job-hiring decision. So, what can be done?

Well, when you use automated tools like ChequedReference™ you not only average more references per candidate, but you also get more comprehensive feedback on top of faster response rates. On average, ChequedReference™ returns 3.8 references per candidate. Most companies only ask for two to three references because of the time it takes to contact and interview references, but with this automated reference checking tool, recruiters and hiring managers can spend time on other important tasks.

For example, in traditional reference checking, a recruiter will spend 30 minutes to more than an hour calling roughly three references supplied by the candidate for an average period of three or four days. It’s even possible that you could lose the candidate during the time it takes to make a telephone reference call.

With automated reference checking tools, a link is sent to the job candidate who then takes the initiative to contact five references to fill out an online questionnaire. The candidate drives the reference, not the recruiter.

Increase Response Rates

Additionally, the references are able to provide the candidate assessment on their own time, rather than setting up a phone call which can prove to be much more disruptive. In fact, Chequed conducted a survey that found that 76 percent of the reference providers actually preferred to take an online assessment when compared to more traditional reference-checking methods.

“We implemented ChequedReference™ for purely tactical reasons, specifically to save time, but immediately saw the strategic value of the candid feedback and much richer information we were able to get with an automated system,” Michele Hanson, Director, Talent Acquisition, Learning Care Group,” says.

Switching to automated reference checking is truly a win-win – no matter how you look at it.


greg moran chequedUtilizing more than a decade of human capital management, sales and leadership experience, Greg Moran is Founder and CEO of works with organizations to implement best practices in talent selection, which are scientifically proven to reduce cost per hire, increase quality of hire and improve organizational productivity. 

SmartRecruiters is the hiring platform with everything you need to source talent, engage candidates and make the right hires.


Greg Moran