SkillSurvey Rant: Job References from Worthless to Priceless

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Information about SkillSurvey Rant: Job References from Worthless to Priceless
Business & Mgmt

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: SkillSurvey



If you're involved in hiring, you know how tedious reference checking can be. We understand. Check out our rant about this outdated process and how you can make it better!

Why jobreferences are When they should be priceless. WORTHLESS

An intemperate rant for anyone who hires.

This is about the most tedious and lowest-value process in the entire HR discipline.

It’s also about the single most important, highest-value process for any company that cares about hiring the best people for every job opening.

Weirdly, the low- value tedious thing and the high-value critical thing are the same thing: CHECKING REFERENCES FOR YOUR JOB CANDIDATES.

We know: ‘Yawn’, right?

How can reference checking be so important and so worthless at the same time?

Because 99% of companies get it completely, inescapably, horribly wrong. Here’s how… Here’s how…

Most companies think of reference checking like this:

They’re something you do at the end of the hiring process. When you’ve pretty much made up your mind.

They just make sure there aren’t any hidden landmines. Like a candidate who lies about their previous jobs.

And they only give you a bare minimum of information. Like how long a person worked at a company, their job title and their salary. And they only give you a bare minimum of information. Like how long a person worked at a company, their job title and their salary.

No wonder most companies don’t rate reference checking very highly. We’d feel the same way if we did them like that.

A growing number of remarkable companies have discovered a completely new approach to reference checking.

They’ve seen that reference checking is the most powerful assessment tool in their hiring arsenal.

And they’re using this new approach to dramatically change the effectiveness of their hiring (without changing the way they work all that much).

These smart companies also happen to be some of the best-run companies in the world. Invariably, they’re known for their people.

So what did they discover about reference checking that so many other companies overlook

It’s something that industrial and organizational psychologists have known for a long time…

The single best predictor of future job performance is past job performance.

The single best predictor of future job performance is past job performance.

If you start from this fairly self-evident premise, everything changes.

Think about the hottest area in the HR world right now:

Talent Analytics is all about using data to assess candidates objectively and scientifically.

It’s all about more accurately predicting job success.

We’re huge fans (some would say pioneers) of Talent Analytics.

But any assessment model based on data is only as good as the data that goes into it.

LIMITED And today, the data feeding Talent Analytics initiatives is…

Personality testing has been with us for over sixty years now.

But, across industries, turnover rates and hiring failures have barely changed in all that time. Something is wrong here.

What’s wrong is that personality tests aren’t the only way to measure the things we really ought to be assessing: the skills and behaviors that drive success in each specific job.

Maybe it’s because personality tests are all essentially self-evaluations of the future potential to perform.

Okay, back to past job performance as an indicator of future job performance.

What if we could use a candidate’s past managers, colleagues and direct reports as rich data sources for assessment instead of simply ‘check- box’ administrators?

No one knows better how a person performs in a particular job than the people who have worked alongside that person in that job.

So the findings from former colleagues aren’t just a great data source for any assessment process…


So this has nothing to do with“reference checking”.

This is

And it’s as similar to old-school reference checking as a fighter jet is to a paper airplane.


Design a job-specific survey that captures the proven success drivers of each job you’re hiring for. That might mean dozens or even hundreds of surveys for your company. 1 2 3

Have the job candidate invite his or her references to an online portal to complete the confidential survey. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s accurate. 2 3

Collect and analyze the data in a highly visual report. It takes a day or two to generate a full report – far less time than even traditional, empty reference checks. 3

This is changing the way we hire.

It’s data rich. It’s job-specific. And, most importantly, it’s predictive of success on the job. It happens early in the process, as an assessment tool.

The data shows it over and over again. It’s proven, it’s validated and... just makes sense.

The single best predictor of future job performance is past job performance.

If you can harness the data source that only references can deliver:

You’ll hire better. People will stay longer. They’ll be happier. And your business will improve.

So the next time someone refers to reference checking, go ahead and yawn.

But if they refer to Predictive Performance Assessments, get out of your chair, throw rose petals at their feet and give your best impression of a standing ovation at Madison Square Garden.



This rant was brought to you by SkillSurvey. Our Pre-Hire 360®solution improves candidate assessment for some of the world’s best companies. Our results are peer-reviewed, our methodology is proven and our library contains over 350 job-specific surveys. We’d love to talk to you about this stuff. Like this idea? Get the eBook:

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