Disruptive technologies abound, from cloud computing to those powering new services like Uber and Airbnb. Perhaps it’s time to disrupt the traditional reference-checking process, too.

Let’s start with a review of the current state. You leave a voicemail for a candidate’s previous employer. They leave a message for you while you’re on another call. The cycle continues until you finally connect – or perhaps not. On average, companies spend 2 to 3 hours making phone-based reference checks for one applicant. And what did you actually learn about a candidate other than confirmation of employment dates? Was it worth your time?

The past predicts the future. Although phone reference checks are inefficient, the process persists because when it does work, the information that you can learn is invaluable. Thus, the possibility of gaining a valuable insight on a candidate fuels the process, even though it is often unproductive.

Multiple sources complete the picture. We’re multi-faceted beings. While this fact makes life interesting, it can make hiring challenging. A candidate might present himself well to managers, but not work very well with peers. Getting a complete picture of a candidate requires the input of multiple sources: peers, managers, even customers. And how do you gauge a candidate’s soft skills like empathy, professionalism, or the ability to work in a team environment? According to Forbes magazine, 46% of new hires fail within 18 months. And when they fail, it is usually due to a lack of the right soft skills. Gathering this much detailed input and from multiple sources requires automation and science.

Changing up the reference checking process

Online reference checking can help you transform the traditional process of bare-bones employment confirmation into a source of rich feedback to help you make informed hiring decisions. Here’s how:

  • You can easily reach 4 to 5 references per candidate — almost instantly
  • Job-specific questions elicit feedback on the skills that are proven to be successful in a particular position.
  • Detailed feedback can help you interview better, and have more insight for decision-making.

Read more reasons why companies are revamping their reference checking process. Download 12 Reasons Rethinking Reference Checking Will Rock Your Hiring.

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