Checking references

The university requires reference checking for most hires. Talk to your HR Partner about this process. The best practice involves reference checking your final candidates, so you can use the reference information, along with interviews and other assessments, to help you make your final selection. You may wish to complete these references prior to final screening interviews, as well.

Reference checks are mandatory for all final staff candidates. You have two options for checking references:

  1. SkillSurvey Reference is USC’s online and automated reference-checking tool. It generates helpful reference reports that will allow you to make better hiring decisions. We encourage you to speak with your HR Partner to learn more about this tool; more details are provided below.
  2. If you decide not to use the SkillSurvey reference process, you may use the Workday Recruiting Reference Check Stage. The candidate will receive a task in their applicant home account to provide names and contact information for references, and the primary recruiter will receive an inbox task with a questionnaire to provide reference check notes. Once reference check notes are submitted, the primary recruiter will receive a decision task for the candidate. More detail on this process is also provided below.

SkillSurvey reference checking

SkillSurvey provides cloud-based solutions that apply the science of human behavior to help harness the power of insight and data, all to create a fuller picture of the people we hire.

The feedback provided by references is provided in a detailed candidate report and will supplement our current interview, assessment and background checking processes. The primary benefits of this tool include the ability to:

  • Increase quality of hire – feedback is obtained from references on researched competency and behavioral skills that correlate with success for the job role. The confidential process allows for more accurate information to be provided on a candidate’s prior performance.
  • Quickly and efficiently obtain references – on average, it takes less than two business days to obtain information from the required minimum of three references for each candidate (at least one reference being a supervisor).
  • Create a pipeline of potential candidates for future roles – responding references can opt in to learn more about USC’s future employment opportunities, thus creating a deep pipeline of talent for future recruiting opportunities.
  • Provide better information – use feedback to work with candidate during the onboarding and training process.
  • Provide reliability – as part of the SkillSurvey Reference process, the system tracks IP addresses from each respondent to provide you authenticity of the reference responses.
  • Provide consistency – candidates applying for the same position can be compared to one another providing a consistent process.

SkillSurvey reference responses

Each survey a reference receives consists of about 30 competency-based questions, specific to the role, and a comments section (that remains constant for all surveys) asking about a candidate’s top three ways to improve and top three work-related strengths. References rate candidates on a 1-7 scale indicating the extent to which the candidate displays a particular behavior where “1” indicates they never display and “7” indicates they always display that behavior.

Understanding feedback reports

Once you finalize the feedback report you can use it to help distinguish your final candidates, as it will provide valuable objective insight into each individual candidate.

On the reports, you will notice that reference numeric ratings are generally high – but not all of them actually are “high.” That is, 90% of the candidates have an average rating of 6.00 and above, meaning that 10% receive ratings that are below an average of 6.00. So with all ratings being similar, how can you differentiate between the candidates? Norming the candidates helps you do that. Norming helps you see how well your candidate’s ratings compare to others who have been reference checked using the same or similar survey. SkillSurvey studies have found that candidates who fall at the 5th percentile or lower (meaning 95% of candidates – out of thousands – received a better rating than this candidate) are the most likely to turn over for cause within the first year of hire, compared to other candidates. More information about this can be found on the SkillSurvey Guide for Hiring Managers document.

As part of the SkillSurvey Reference process, the system tracks IP addresses from each respondent. If one or more of the references’ IP addresses match, this information will be highlighted in red on the cover page of the SkillSurvey reference feedback report. This information is tracked to help understand if one or more respondents are replying from the same IP address, which may be the case if a job candidate has asked a colleague who is employed by the same company to be a reference. In this case the candidate and the reference would likely have the same IP address. If they are coming from different cities, states, and organizations, this could be a red flag and a risk of a reference authenticity. Please use the SkillSurvey Matching IP Address Questions document to learn more.

See a sample of the type of report provided by this tool:

SkillSurvey Reference SAMPLE REPORT

SkillSurvey Features Guide

Alternative reference checking in Workday

As outlined above, departments who do not use SkillSurvey Reference must use a Workday Reference Stage, along with the associated questionnaire (which has been approved by USC Talent Acquisition).

When a candidate is moved to the Workday Reference stage, they are asked to provide references. A recruiter then must call the references and complete the questionnaire which covers three areas (four if for a management position). Based on reference feedback, the recruiter will complete these four sections on a 1-7 scale (1-never and 7-always):

  • The candidate consistently met or exceeded expectations
  • The candidate demonstrated dependability (e.g., reports consistently and on time for work appointments, meetings, duties, and deadlines)
  • The candidate was professional (e.g., responds to requests in a helpful and constructive manner)
  • The candidate effectively measured performance and held team members accountable for meeting goals (only for management positions)

The questionnaire includes space to complete four references, but not all are required. The reference name and association should be added in the comment section. If recruiters do not complete the feedback questionnaire scale, they must attach documentation, at the bottom of the questionnaire, outlining reference feedback that confirms the checks were completed.