Reference checks and employment verification are frequently used synonymously, as though they are the same thing.  

However, that is a major misperception. 

Employment history can be verified using both an employment verification check and a reference check, but a reference check has many more uses. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss the difference between reference check and employment verification check in detail: 

What is a Reference Check? 

As part of the hiring process, your candidate will be asked to provide the hiring firm with professional job references to provide additional information about themselves, including their performance, work experience, and responsibilities. Coworkers, immediate bosses, or other staff members who collaborated closely with the candidate can serve as professional references.  

Typically, the recruiter will query about productivity, success, failures, attendance, culture fit, strengths, and shortcomings during a call to verify references for a job. 

Moreover, the time limit of conversations and the lack of candid responses from referees often restrict recruiters and hiring managers from learning only the most basic information during reference checks. However, more valuable information should be obtained by asking the right questions in the right way. 

Traditional reference checks are also frequently performed later in the interview process after the final selection. This is done because they might be time-consuming to complete.  

This is a significant disadvantage because of confirmation bias. At that point, checks are typically only superficial rather than offering meaningful information to help with hiring decisions. Even unfavorable feedback is unlikely to influence the hiring manager’s choice at this late stage. 

How do Reference Checks Work? 

A lengthy phone interview is typically used to perform a reference check. Hiring managers and recruiters frequently spend hours tracking down references and double-checking information throughout this laborious procedure. Are you wondering how many references are enough? Acquire knowledge about the reference checking magic number. 

What was once a long and tiresome manual procedure, now has become a more automated and modernized option. With reference checks, recruiters and hiring managers can improve their recruiting decisions by receiving candid input from six or more references on average. This results in data-rich, actionable reports from the references.  

Furthermore, you can save time if you request contacts to submit candidate feedback online. Also, they are more likely to give candid feedback. Thus, resulting in higher-quality applicant insights and quicker response times.  

Strategies to Utilize Reference Checks 

Consider how you will utilize the results of the employment reference checks to inform your recruiting decisions. 

Some of the finest reference check questions reveal limitations on the candidate’s interpersonal and communication abilities that you might not otherwise learn about. Or they challenge your initial assumptions about the candidate’s cultural fit during the interview process.  

Using distinct reference check questions can potentially reveal flaws that were missed during the interview. 

A straightforward inquiry such as this one can yield a multitude of data. 

To what extent was the candidate able to work well with others in the team?  

You can find out how successfully the candidate collaborated with others on the team or if they preferred working alone by asking them a question like this. 

Based on suitability, this type of feedback can make or break a hiring decision. 

Check References Early and Often 

Referencing candidates after the conclusion of the hiring process is an outdated procedure that is nevertheless widely used in many businesses. It’s a common misconception that reference checks are pointless and should only be carried out at the very end of the application process. This ensures that the candidate’s job history shows no obvious red flags. 

But as soon as possible following the first or second round of in-person interviews—and not later—is the ideal moment to verify references. Getting the correct reference information at this crucial point might assist in determining whether a candidate is likely to be a solid recruit before wasting too much time on more interviews.  

When conducted correctly, reference checks can yield extremely useful information that will directly influence the hiring process’s subsequent stages. For example, a computerized reference check can reveal that the applicant is dishonest about obtaining references or forged. Or maybe the applicant did not do well in a comparable position in the past. 

Reference Checks: Going Digital 

The phone reference check has been replaced. Using digital reference checks is far more convenient for all parties involved, saves teams time, and yields greater feedback while ensuring compliance. 

Additionally, during the reference verification procedure—according to which the industry average fraud rate might reach 4% of applicants—many false references were identified.  

What is Employment Verification? 

The procedure by which a potential employer verifies a candidate’s work history with a prior employer is known as employment verification. 

To verify job-specific details, such as job titles, start and end dates for each position, and reasons for leaving or termination (if relevant), the organization usually gets in touch with former employers.  

Like reference checks, phone interviews for prior employment verifications might take a long time and yield ambiguous or incomplete information.  

How is Employment Verified?  

Reference checks and employment verifications are carried out in a similar way. To confirm facts, hiring managers or recruiters such as HR must talk to past employers over the phone. 

Due to time constraints, this is usually completed near the end of the hiring process rather than for every initial candidate.  

However, the prior employment check procedure might be automated to accelerate the hiring period. Recruiters can save time and prevent making poor hires by identifying warning signs regarding a candidate’s past initially.  

Furthermore, the checks help businesses in maintaining complete compliance by compiling comprehensive reports from the candidate’s employers and centrally retaining all supporting data. It is almost impossible to follow reports of this kind with phone verifications.  

Employment Verification vs Reference Check 

Verifications from previous employers are fantastic, but they should only be used to confirm that a worker performed a specified function for a predetermined time at a previous organization.  

A reference check is the best course of action, nevertheless, if you’re seeking more comments and evaluations on how they performed on the job and whether they would fit in with your company. 

Hence, to create an objective baseline, you should design the reference check procedure so that all candidates are asked the same questions.  

Besides, reference checks, when done properly, reveal the whole record of a candidate’s performance in roles like yours, even as you hire more people. You have an advantage over businesses that still gather reference feedback over the phone. Because digital reference checks provide dependable scalability to the reference feedback collection process. 

Final Thoughts 

Understanding the distinct roles of reference checks and employment verifications is essential for an effective hiring process. While employment verifications confirm a candidate’s job history and tenure; reference checks offer deeper insights into their performance, behavior, and cultural fit within a team.  

Conducting reference checks early in the hiring process can provide invaluable information, helping to identify the best candidates and avoid potential issues. The move towards digital reference checks enhances efficiency, reliability, and compliance, allowing recruiters to make more informed decisions swiftly.  

By implementing both methods appropriately, organizations can significantly improve their hiring outcomes and build stronger, more cohesive teams.