skip to content

Clemson University


Finding the best candidates quicker

The Goal

Clemson University is ranked No. 20 among national public universities by U.S. News & World Report. The first-rate faculty and staff recruited by the university are key to continuing to build Clemson’s stellar brand.

The Challenge

Good talent moves quickly, but Clemson’s reference checking and interview processes were slow. Most references weren’t available by phone; others only confirmed employment dates. Sometimes, the hiring managers did not complete reference checking. Other times, they made reference calls after an offer was made.

Josh Brown, Director of Talent Acquisition at Clemson said, “Our reference checking and internal review processes were extremely long. It could take months, sometimes longer, to get a candidate in place.”

Asking candidates to provide written reference letters improved the process in some ways, but some content was questionable. Signatures could have been forged, or a reference might not have read the document closely before signing. There were too many questions in the minds of the talent acquisition staff.

And a lack of standard reference forms and guidelines for storing information was a potential legal concern.

How We Helped

Using SkillSurvey Reference and our Pre-Hire 360 process, the university is speeding up its process, identifying the best candidates, and filling what was previously a ‘dead time’ in the recruiting process.

“We created a new hiring process with greater points of engagement for candidates and hiring managers, and decreased our lead time by 13 weeks. Now we can find the best candidates before other universities do,” said Josh.

On average, the university gets feedback from 4.66 validated references for each candidate.

Rich feedback informs managers BEFORE the interview.
Getting information about a candidate’s prior performance in a specific role helps the university truly understand if the candidate will excel at Clemson.  Job-specific surveys tie a candidate’s strengths and skills directly to the function that the candidate will perform.

Clemson also receives this feedback from former managers and colleagues while the interview schedule is being built. It’s presented in data-rich, easy-to-read reports  that also provide job-specific interview questions to the hiring managers for each identified competency area. This ensures consistency and accuracy in the interview process.

“We use the reference content as an assessment. Our hiring managers have the data to address strengths and weaknesses in the interview to determine best fit for Clemson. And creating interview questions for every job code would have been a big undertaking for the university’s small department. The Pre-Hire 360 feature in SkillSurvey Reference lets us provide the hiring managers with the right questions, and ones that we know are valid and compliant.”
Josh Brown

Director of Talent Acquisition, Clemson University

Candidates are evaluated objectively and consistently.
The institution can easily see strengths and weaknesses of all potential hires based on their interviews and reference feedback. And data is stored electronically, providing consistent and documented processes and information.

Onboarding is customized and stronger.
The information gathered during the hiring process helps the university create a tailored professional developmental plan for new hires, contributing to their success.

Also, Clemson is recruiting more aggressively, asking references to upload their own information for future employment with the university. Twenty-two percent of references have submitted their names, building an otherwise difficult to obtain list of passive candidates.

Josh added, “The references that opt into our talent pool are typically some of our stronger candidates. They are the people at the executive level or higher, and they are showing an interest in Clemson.”

“SkillSurvey Reference solved a lot of issues for our management team. We are providing hiring managers with more tools to make better decisions. We can take this data and demonstrate how we are contributing to the university.”

Josh Brown

Director of Talent Acquisition, Clemson University

The Results

SkillSurvey Reference and the Pre-Hire 360 feature is helping Clemson University find the best-fit candidates more quickly.


More than $1M in potential turnover
costs were avoided in just over a year


Lead time was shortened
by 13 weeks


Average number of reference responses increased to more than 4 per candidate


Reference checking time dropped
from 2 weeks to 1.43 days


Over 400 passive candidates are
opting-in for future consideration
through Clemson’s passive talent network


Selection committees have tools
to conduct consistent and
compliant interviews

About Clemson

Clemson University is a top 10, public research institution in Clemson, South Carolina. About 21,000 students attend the university which hires about 3,300 employees. SmartMoney ranked it No. 7 in terms of students’ return on investment in 2012.

Use this calculator to see how you can improve your hiring process

Tour the platform that’s changing the way people reference check

Create a free trial account and access our solution for 30 days