Reference Checks

SkillSurvey References

The Office of Human Resources recommends reference checks for all final staff candidates. You have two options for checking references:

  • SkillSurvey References is the University's online, automated reference-checking tool. It generates reference reports that allow you to make better hiring decisions. See more details below.
  • If you decide not to use SkillSurvey, you may use a separate phone reference-checking guide provided by your unit HR team.

Talk with your unit's HR representative for more information about this process or to register for one of the monthly SkillSurvey training sessions to learn more about this tool. For strategies on using SkillSurvey to best fit your hiring needs, see "When is the best time to use SkillSurvey Reference?" (pdf). 

About SkillSurvey

SkillSurvey helps to create a fuller picture of job candidates. It provides a detailed report on each candidate based on the feedback from their references, which can supplement your interview and background-checking processes.

Benefits include:

  • Higher-quality hires: Questions focus on competency and behavioral skills directly correlated with success for the role, and the confidential process ensures more accurate information.
  • Quicker, more efficient hiring: On average, employers hear from the required five references (two managers and three peers) in less than two business days.
  • A pipeline for future hires: For units that use SkillSurvey earlier in the selection process (after the phone interview but before a face-to-face interview), candidates can opt in to learn more about the University's future employment opportunities, creating a deeper pipeline of talent.
  • Improved reference verification: See IP addresses from each respondent, ensuring the authenticity of references.
  • A more consistent hiring process: Using the same questions and reference process helps you compare candidates for the same position.
  • Better onboarding for your new hire: Use feedback to work with candidates during the onboarding and training process.

Understanding SkillSurvey Feedback Reports

Each reference receives a survey of about 30 competency-based questions, specific to the role, and a comments section asking about a candidate's top three ways to improve and top three work-related strengths. References are asked to rate a particular behavior of a candidate on a scale from 1 (they never display that behavior) to 7 (they always display that behavior).

Use the completed feedback reports to help select your final candidates. On the reports, reference ratings for candidates are generally high-in fact, 90% of candidates rate 6 or higher. With all ratings being similar, how can you differentiate between candidates? The feedback report gives an average rating for each question, showing you how your candidate compares to others who have been reference-checked using the same or a similar survey. SkillSurvey studies have found that candidates in the bottom fifth percentile (meaning 95% of candidates-out of thousands-received a better rating) are the most likely to turn over for cause within the first year of hire.

The system also tracks IP addresses from each respondent. If one or more of the references' IP addresses match, that will be highlighted in red on the cover page of the feedback report. If the reference is from a different city, state, or organization, that could be a red flag for a reference's authenticity. Not all matching IP addresses indicate risk, however. For example, a job candidate who asked a colleague at the same company to be a reference will likely have the same IP address as the reference.

See a sample SkillSurvey report (pdf).

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