The Pre-Employment Background Check

  1. Many job-seeking candidates are mystified and left in the dark about the background check process. This piece discusses the contents of a typical third party pre-employment background check for nurses and other types of healthcare workers.

    The Pre-Employment Background Check

    First of all, it is an extremely positive sign whenever any prospective employee reaches the point in the hiring process that involves initiation of the pre-employment background check. This is because third party background checks cost money, and employers generally do not want to spend this kind of money on a candidate whom they never intended to hire in the first place. Therefore, a prospective employee who is asked by human resources personnel to provide sufficient information for the background check might already have one foot in the door of the organization.

    Many nurses and other types of healthcare workers have questions about the nebulous process of checking a prospective employee's background. Some of these questions may include the following:
    • What information does the background check include?
    • How long will the background check take?
    • What if I don't remember my exact dates of hire?

    All of these questions will be answered shortly. Without further ado, the typical healthcare background check report for licensed nurses contains the following data:

    Professional Nursing License Information

    The job-seeking candidate is almost always asked to provide information regarding their nursing licensure, such as the license number, entity that issued it, and an expiration date. The background check report either verifies the information provided by the candidate, or reports any discrepancies. If the licensure information cannot be verified, the report will include the words "UNABLE TO VERIFY." Any license censures, such as warnings and suspensions executed by the state board of nursing, are recorded on the final report.

    Verification of Diploma or Degrees Received

    The third party background check company has staff members who verify the educational credentials that have been included on the employment application. Some background check companies verify only the highest degree conferred, whereas other companies want to verify all credentials. The background check uses databases such as the National Student Clearinghouse and Qualification Check to verify a candidate's degrees. In addition to the type of credential earned, the background check report includes the dates attended and the approximate date of degree completion.

    Criminal Background Check at the Local Level

    In order to conduct this type of check, the background check company requires candidates to list all the residences they have had in a ten-year period. The background check company's staff members contact the courthouses in the counties or parishes where these residences are located to confirm the presence or absence of any misdemeanor or felony records.

    Validation of Social Security Number or National ID

    The background check company's staff members verify that the provided social security number is issued to the candidate who applied for the position and not someone else. Also, the background check company staff ensures the that the social security number has not ever been in the death index. In addition, the state where the social security number was originally issued is listed, as well as the year it had been issued.

    Employment Report

    The staff members at the background check company verify the employment history information provided by the candidate against the information they receive from other sources. Some of these 'other' sources include HR reference checks and third party databases such as the Talx Corporation. The starting and ending dates provided by the candidate are also compared against the starting and ending dates of employment yielded from databases and reference checks. If one of the candidate's former places of employment is now closed or defunct, (s)he might be asked to provide W2 forms or pay stubs to prove (s)he really had been employed at that workplace.

    How Long Will the Background Check Take?

    This depends on the vendor that conducts the background check, as well as the type of check requested by the prospective employer. The average completion time for most background checks is less than one week. By the way, HireRight, Kroll, and LexisNexis are several of the leading third party background check companies that healthcare employers utilize.

    I Don't Remember Exact Dates of Hire.

    This is okay. As long as the data provided by the job-seeking candidate is close enough to the actual start date, all should be fine. Always remember that the third party background check company staff compares the information provided by the candidate against the information they yield from HR reference checking and/or third party verification systems such as the Talx Corporation.

    Hence, if the start date provided by the candidate is June 19, 2010 and the HR reference provides a start date of July 7, 2010, the variance of a couple of weeks will not raise any major red flags. However, a start date provided by the job seeker that deviates from the start date given by the HR reference or third party verification database by several months or years might be viewed as deceptive or dishonest.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 17, '18
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    TheCommuter, BSN, RN, CRRN, has helped moderate several Allnurses.com forums since 2007. She is a currently a student in a distance MSN degree program and draws upon her experiences to write.

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