For colleges and universities, the entry process can be an extensive one for both student applicants and those looking to work in secondary education. For schools of higher learning, potential employee and student evaluations require much more than academic records and resumes. Human resources and admissions offices utilize reference checks for colleges and universities to gain the kind of knowledge about an applicant that credits and grades are unable to provide.
Reference checks help identify a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, while providing specific, detailed questions concerning a potential job role or study program. In this blog post, we will detail the value of reference checks for colleges and universities and highlight how these institutions are turning to automated solutions to streamline their hiring and admissions processes.
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Why do colleges and universities conduct reference checks?
Reference checks are an essential part of the college hiring and admissions process, because they reveal important insights and uncover potential concerns about an applicant that may not be present in their other application materials. Higher Ed institutions carefully select each member of their incoming class, with particular attention to their interpersonal skills, leadership potential, and alignment with the culture and values of the school. When a school is equipped with a comprehensive view of an applicant, they’ll also know which resources to offer as a way to provide support and to address concerns proactively with the incoming student.
For faculty and staff, the hiring team is even more discerning in their scrutiny. The process of getting hired as a professor at any college or university is rigorous and highly competitive. As institutions seek to align new hires with the values and academic culture of the school, job recruiters and HR professionals can lean on the information gleaned from a reference check to discover which candidates truly stand out from the crowd. For colleges and universities, the reference check process helps:
- Confirm the job seeker’s identity and background information
- Evaluate competency for the job position
- Learn the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses
- Find any red flags or concerns that might cause problems in the future
By utilizing a thorough reference check, colleges and universities save themselves from the cost and headache of hiring someone who isn’t the right fit for the job.
What kind of reference checks do colleges and universities do?
Many businesses only use the reference check process for hiring new employees. But colleges and universities benefit from employing reference checks for a variety of different needs, so the procedures for checking references can vary, depending on the particular candidate and their role as student, worker, or student worker. Below, you can find three types of reference checks a college or university might use.
Faculty and staff reference checks
Reference checks help ensure that new faculty members are not only highly qualified for their position but also that they’re the right fit for the culture of the institution. Colleges and universities use reference checks to identify the candidates who will be most compatible with the academic pursuits and reputation of their institution. Plus, reference checks are typically part of a thorough background check, which is a necessary element of the hiring process for any employee of a Higher Education institution. Failing to run comprehensive background and reference checks can lead to serious consequences, as important information about the applicant gets overlooked without them.
Along with verifying identity, qualifications, educational background, and work history, reference checks for teaching candidates may include questions about:
- Instructional methods, curriculum development, and teaching style
- Personal values and work ethic
- Interpersonal and communication skills
- Research practices and commitment to academic excellence
- Mentorship abilities
- Overall suitability to the particular institution
When it comes to secondary education, every institution of higher education has its own particular culture, which is why reference checks can help determine which job applicants are the best fit for faculty positions.
Prospective student reference checks
Typically, a college or university will ask undergraduate students for at least one letter of recommendation. For graduate students, a full reference check (and sometimes a background check) will be conducted. Questions for undergrad and grad student references might include:
- The reference’s history with the applicant
- Academic performance and research abilities
- Ability to think critically and analytically
- Previous experience with specific academic projects, presentations, and publications
- Student strengths and weaknesses
- Student’s qualifications for entering a specific program or field of study
- Student’s ability to handle the demands of the program
Because admissions offices receive such a wide range of potential students, they have to be discerning regarding which ones are the best fit for their particular program and institution. Letters of recommendation, or reference checks, fill in the gap between grades and extracurriculars to give them a better window into an applicant’s character.
Student employment reference checks
Many students work on-campus jobs part-time as a way to make some extra money during their time in college. Others choose to do an internship or work-study program to pad their resume and build some hands-on skills. While not all schools require a background check for these kinds of positions, many of them require a reference check to ensure that the student in question can manage the position alongside their schoolwork. In addition to the same sorts of identifying information and background verification for the student, references may be asked questions about:
- Prior job performance and responsibilities
- Work ethic and overall reliability
- Ability to follow directions and take constructive criticism
- Potential areas of improvement
- Communication, time-management, and problem-solving skills
With student employment, reference questions may be more tailored to entry-level positions and mentorship roles, with consideration given to the student’s position at the college or university.
Why choose Vitay for college and university reference checks?
For colleges and universities looking to automate the reference check process online, Vitay provides a high-quality, cost-effective reference check experience for users and applicants. Unlike other reference-checking software, Vitay’s pricing makes it possible for schools with a lower budget to employ an automated reference check process.
Here are five reasons why colleges and universities benefit by switching from a manual reference check process to Vitay:
1. It saves time.
Vitay streamlines the reference-checking process, adding ease and efficiency to an arduous task. Using Vitay’s intuitive interface, admissions officers and hiring managers can automatically send requests, receive responses, and collate feedback for each reference check. Vitay’s convenient online platform makes it simple to operate a paperless reference check system, allowing staff to stay organized more easily and reducing administrative burden.
Plus, with customizable question templates and background checks available (for Canada-based clientele), you can tailor your reference check to the particular needs of each position.
2. It improves reference check quality.
Vitay makes it easy to regulate university reference checks by providing standardized questionnaires for references to use, ensuring that all applicants receive equal and comparable evaluations. Plus, Vitay’s structured format helps promote more detailed and relevant feedback from references, allowing for more comprehensive applicant assessments overall. And with a centralized and standardized collection process, admissions staff can compare and analyze responses across different references more easily, helping them to better evaluate prospective candidates.
3. It ensures fairness and confidentiality.
Institutions of higher learning must maintain the privacy of their applicants. Vitay prioritizes data security and confidentiality by employing industry-standard encryption protocols alongside secure storage practices. Any sensitive information provided by a reference is only accessible to authorized users so that candidates and schools can both feel safe storing their data online.
Additionally, the standardization of reference check materials ensures a fair and equal experience for all candidates by helping eliminate personal biases while maintaining an equal opportunity process for every applicant. By utilizing online reference checks that can be completed at any time of day, colleges and universities promote accessibility for all references. And by employing standardized questionnaires and structured evaluations, schools can provide transparency across all reference checks and ensure that hiring and admissions are completed with integrity.
4. It improves the candidate experience.
When reference checks are done manually, job candidates are often put in limbo for a length of time, waiting to hear back from the prospective employer about the position. Meanwhile, the employer is hunting down each reference, scheduling their meetings, compiling data, and sharing it with the hiring team. With automated reference checking through Vitay, candidates and references can enjoy a more convenient and efficient reference process, while the hiring team receives a detailed ready-made response that can easily be shared and stored for future insights.
5. It helps colleges and universities to track student outcomes.
Vitay makes it simple for colleges and universities to collect relevant data related to post-graduate outcomes, such as employment status, graduate school enrollment, salary figures, career statistics, and satisfaction surveys. The platform supplies customizable forms and surveys for schools to distribute online to their student body for easy collection and documentation.
For both students and employees, the reference check process is an important part of gaining entrance to any institution of higher learning. Reference checks not only verify the applicant’s identity but also provide a unique window into their character, revealing insights about their work ethic, interpersonal skills, and leadership skills. A quality reference check helps hiring teams and admissions officers determine an applicant’s potential for thriving in a collegiate environment, as student or staff.
With so many reference checks being conducted daily, colleges and universities benefit from employing reference check software like Vitay to speed up operations and ensure an equal opportunity process for all applicants. Not only does it streamline the reference check process for the human resource and admissions teams, but it also enhances the application experience for all those applying with its user-friendly interface and ease of use. For schools looking to systematize their reference check process and move the operations online, Vitay is a straightforward, cost-effective option.
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