We were chatting over coffee this morning about an organisation that is recruiting at the moment. Having been through the cycle of advertising, preselecting/long-listing, interviewing and short-listing candidates, their references came back negative, forcing the organisation to reboot the recruitment process.
On the one hand, that's a disappointing and somewhat costly outcome. It suggests, perhaps, that the preselection and interviewing steps could be tightened up. Were there warning signs - yellow or red flags that could/should have been spotted earlier in the process?
On the other, it also indicates that the selection/recruitment process is effectively identifying and weeding-out unsuitable applicants, avoiding what could have turned out to be even costlier incidents down the line if the appointments had been made and the new recruits had turned out to be unsuitable.
So, Proportion of shortlisted candidates rejected as a result of poor references is one of several possible measures of the recruitment process, with implications for risks and opportunities, costs and benefits. Very high or low values of the metric, or adverse trends, or sudden changes, may all be cause for concern and worthy of investigation, whereas middling, "neutral" values are to be expected.
The metric probably wouldn't have even occurred to me except that I happen to be documenting information security controls for joiners, movers and leavers at the moment for the next phase of SecAware ISMS templates. Information risks should be taken into account during the recruitment process. Confirming applicants' identities, taking up references, confirming employment histories and qualifications on their CVs, and running other background checks (e.g. for criminal records or credit issues) can be important controls if legally permissible, especially for appointments into trusted roles - and, by the way, that includes internal transfers and promotions as well as new recruits.