Four is the Magic Number in Reference Checking, Says New Checkster Research


Analysis Examines the Ideal Number of References Needed For Quality Hires, Low Turnover

San Francisco, CA (Oct. 3, 2019) -- San Francisco, CA (Oct. 3, 2019) – One might be the loneliest number but four is the magic number when it comes to reference checking new hires, according to new Checkster research. In an analysis of over 51,000 references, Checkster determined that four references is the ideal number for quality hires and to prevent turnover.

Data analysis of the total number of references who provided feedback on the candidates in the study was correlated with first year turnover. Candidates who had three or less references providing feedback showed significantly higher rates of turnover and no shows on first day of employment. The biggest difference between obtaining two and four reference responses was an increase in involuntary turnover and no show by as much as 80%.

While companies tend to reach an average of 2.4 references when using traditional methods, digital automation tools allow hiring managers to access many more references than would be feasible with phone calls. Because of the confidentiality of the digital process, references feel more comfortable giving candid feedback about candidates.

“It’s a myth that reference checking is a waste a time,” says Yves Lermusi, CEO, Checkster. “Research has shown that digital reference checking is one of the best selection processes and checking four references ensures that candidates aren’t cherry-picking the few references who will say good things about them.”

Unlike traditional phone reference checks, automated reference checking tools allow employers to gather more references in a fraction of the time compared to manual methods, increasing the quality of reference checks. Digital reference checks collect information from a variety of sources, allowing employers to see the rater’s relationship with the candidate and to inform them whether they’re getting information from a supervisor, peer, or subordinate. This presents a holistic picture of the candidate’s quality in a way that is more similar to peer reports than traditional reference checks, which only gather information from previous managers. 

Methodology: This research study was conducted across large organizations that use Checkster in the hiring process, with a total number of hires equaling 11,549 and over 51,000 references responding. The data analysis involved statistical tests including point-biserial correlations and t-tests.

To download a free copy of the report, visit Checkster.


About Checkster

Using collective human intelligence, Checkster empowers talent and team leaders to make smarter, faster and more confident talent decisions and build high performing teams that compete to win. More than 500 organizations around the world use Checkster to power their people decisions and improve quality of hire.

Editor’s Note:

Yves Lermusi, CEO, Checkster is available for interview. If you publish any of this material, please include a link to (


Beth Brody

Cary Goldberg