February 19, 2016

3 Downfalls of Reference Checks and A Better Way to Complete Them

Reference checks are done by 96% of organizations as a screening and selection tool, according to a recent survey by SHRM. Reference checks may be a standard in today’s hiring process but as we all know, there are often problems that arise with modern reference checks. They have associated legal risk, are a poor indicator of past performance, and can have low response rates. Taking all of these downfalls into account, we think there’s a solution to the struggles of today’s reference checks.

Legal Risks

Questions on a reference check form are often created specific to a job and written by someone who has performed the job in the past. Because that person knows the ins and outs of the job, the questions can be subjective. Uncovering the candidate’s hard, job-specific skills is a plus, but doesn’t come without fear of a lawsuit for defamation while questioning.

Poor Indicator

Some companies will limit their legal exposure by only verifying name, title and dates of employment.  While it keeps the company out of harm’s way and as further from a lawsuit, this does not provide any insight to the individual’s past performance and leaves out soft skills such as if the candidate is punctual, daily productivity levels, and more.

Low Response Rate

Whether it’s fear of a lawsuit for defamation or the past employer is just too busy, we have all dealt with the low response rate of reference checking. If only a select few of a candidate’s professional references return the call and complete the reference, the results show only a limited perspective on the individual. As we know, the more responses we get the better picture we have of a candidate.


As we know there are legal risks associated with reference checks. They can be a poor indicator of a candidate and there’s often a low response rate. Is there a solution though? We think so.

Here at TriVista Professional Placement Services, we help our clients off-load the entire process using an online, web-based reference checking system. This objective system allows our clients to make informed decisions about the applicants based on thorough data. The insight and analytics helps our customers streamline their processes and hire the best person for each job.

Our value add-service package for clients with a retained search agreement includes:

  • Professional reports with detailed information these reports can be used for comparison purposes, especially helpful when an employer is deciding between two or more strong candidates
  • Job specific questionnaires instead of a mass-distributed list of questions
  • Compliance with EEOC
  • Quicker turn around / response time

Contact TriVista Professional Placement Services to experience the efficiencies of our reference checking system.


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