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Reference Checks for the Digital Age

Helen Gilroy-Powell

Helen Gilroy-Powell

22nd November 2019

At Zinc, we want to change reference checks for good, and that means changing the way companies do their reference checks. 

Traditionally, checking references involved a combination of multiple phone calls, long email chains and PDFs saved on hard drives. Referencing at the final stage of the process after a job offer has been made is still the most common way to reference in the EU, however, referencing at this stage is inherently risky. For example, some companies have been legally challenged after withdrawing an offer because they received a bad reference check. In today’s landscape of data ownership, particularly GDPR, these traditional reference check methods are becoming outdated. 

Zinc has developed a referencing ecosystem that’s safe, transparent and fair. Through Zinc, reference checks are requested by companies and, after the reference has been collected, the candidate gets to keep the reference in their own verified profile, recorded with blockchain technology. A Zinc profile allows job seekers to view, own and reuse their references and background checks throughout their career, not just for a single application. We put candidates firmly in control of their personal data. 

Zinc verified profile showing reference checks

Zinc also benefits recruiters and hiring managers through delivering qualitative reference data in a couple of clicks, meaning there is no reason to put off referencing your candidates earlier in the hiring process. 95% of our references are completed in 3 days, drastically cutting down time spent on reference checks.

Once more candidates have verified profiles of references and background checks, this will be a further time saver for HR managers who no longer will have to repeat the same processes over and over.

Modernising the reference check

Our overall approach to referencing is that competency information is better collected early in the hiring process while culture information is better collected in the later stages. This is because competency information can help inform candidate assessments while they are interviewing, but this information is not so helpful once you have made a job offer as usually it only confirms what you already know. Once an offer is made, it is more sensible to focus on culture information such as values and work styles as this can help inform your onboarding. 

When you start referencing with Zinc, you’ll see four different reference categories. These four reference types are designed to get hiring managers thinking more closely about both the value and application of their reference checks. For example, is the reference check being used as a further assessment? Or could the reference be better used for optimising their employee onboarding processes? 

All our reference categories will help you practice due diligence in your hiring practices and enable you to put a scalable process in place for referencing across all roles. The different categories enable you to focus on exactly what your business needs. To create your reference questions, you can choose from the following:

  • Employment verification (compliant references across all roles)

  • Culture-add (keep culture consistent while scaling)

  • Competency (a tool to help filter the top 10% of applicants)

  • Remote worker (shape your high performing remote team)

Reference check types

Employment verification references are designed to verify either way whether your candidate has the experience they claim to have on their CV. This type of reference check is the simplest of the four and delves into the candidate’s approach to their work as well as verifying previous positions.

The culture-add tool is designed to collect information about the candidate that will help hiring managers place them in an environment where they will flourish. Questions designed to explore the candidate’s work style and values will mean you can better tailor their onboarding experience. Extracting this information will ensure you can place them in a team with the right management style and work environment leading to a higher success rate. 

Competency referencing focuses more on assessment, so we recommend using this before making an offer to your candidates. Asking your candidate’s past colleagues and managers what they think the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses are can help you decide between your top candidates and adds an extra layer of evaluation to your interview process.

We developed a reference category specifically for remote workers as this type of work requires a higher level of trust. Communication is key in remote work, so this reference check focuses on how well the candidate communicates in writing as well as their preferred work styles and ability to self-motivate. 

Fully customisable references

The templates Zinc offers give you a good starting point to ensure you get the most out of your reference checks. References can be a rich resource for you to find out more about your candidate from the people who know their work best. 

Zinc automated reference check tool

With Zinc’s new question editor, you can tailor your reference checks to focus on what matters most to your company. Add, edit or delete questions as you see fit. If you’re not sure what are the best questions to ask, the Zinc team is on hand to ensure you create the best questions for your business needs. 

We believe automation shouldn't stop you from getting those detailed insights to help you make better hiring decisions. Using Zinc, you can transform your reference checks into the most impressive part of your candidate journey. Get in touch to automate your reference checks today.

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