Reference checks

Checking references is an important step in the recruitment process. The purpose of a reference check is to obtain information about a candidate’s behavior and work performance with prior employers that could be critical to a hiring manager’s decision.  Reference checks should be reserved for your top final candidates, and we must always ask for permission from the candidate before we contact any references.


There are two methods by which we can check references of a candidate:

  • Skill Survey online references – references are sent an online survey to complete.
  • Reference Calls – Talent Acquisition Recruiter or Hiring Manager will call each reference provided by the candidate.

Skill survey

Skill Survey provides on-line applicant reference checking surveys to collect feedback on behaviors and skills that correlate to success in a given job type. Skill Survey helps hiring managers obtain quality hires in an effective and efficient manner, and provides a consistent and compliant process for all applicants.

The UCOP Talent Acquisition Recruiter works with hiring managers at the beginning of a recruitment to confirm the reference check process. With Skill Survey, this involves identifying the reference survey that matches the job being filled. Skill Survey’s team of expert industrial and organizational psychologists have developed over 300 surveys across 23 different job families and over 2,000 job titles. Each survey contains behaviorally-based questions which allow a hiring manager to obtain relevant job-related information around behaviors critical to a new hire’s success on the job.

The Skill Survey job library includes surveys that correlate to UCOP job families in Finance, Accounting, IT, Operations and Academic Personnel, among others. Hiring managers can review surveys by job family with their Talent Acquisition Recruiter and choose the best fit match for their job.

Final candidates are notified by their Talent Acquisition Recruiter when the reference check process begins. This typically happens after face-to-face interviews are complete. Candidates enter their references online directly into the Skill Survey tool, and an email notification is sent to each reference requesting their anonymous feedback. The references complete the survey online.

Because the references are assured their input is not personally identifiable, they tend to be more forthcoming and have a high response rate. Candidates are required to input at least 5 references, including at least 2 supervisors. A summary report is available when at least 3 responses are received and at least one of the 3 should be a supervisor.  Talent Acquisition has access to a summary report of the results, and consults with the hiring manager on the outcome. 

Reference Calls

In this traditional method of checking references, either the Talent Acquisition Recruiter or Hiring Manager call each reference and ask each a common set of questions.  All questions should be work related, focusing on direct work interactions of the candidate and the reference.

Final candidates are contacted by their Talent Acquisition Recruiter when the reference check process begins. This typically happens after face-to-face interviews are complete. Candidates provide the contact information of their references to the Talent Acquisition Recruiter

For more information, see the Reference Check FAQ (pdf).