Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why is Stanford University implementing background checks?
A: Stanford’s goal is to hire the best talent. A background check verifies the accuracy of information the
candidate of choice has provided. Stanford University wants to ensure a safe and secure environment for all
staff, students and faculty. Conducting pre-employment background checks is considered an employer best
practice when hiring.
Q: Does Stanford have a policy covering background checks?
A: Yes. The background check policy provides guidance on who will receive a background check, discusses
the responsibility for overseeing the program, and outlines the procedure for final decisions regarding
information surfaced through a background check.
Q: Who will be required to have a background check?
A: All non-academic new hires. This includes regular, temporary, casual, or student candidates who are not
currently employed by Stanford University (or not returning as an employee within the bridging period).
“Final candidates” for these staff positions are required to have a background check. Note that students
only require a background check if being hired into a staff position (not when being hired into a student
Q: What does the background check include?
A: The basic background check includes:
• Social Security Number verification
• Review of national and state criminal records based on place of residence during the last seven years
• National Sex Offender Registry search
For some positions, background checks will also include:
• Verification of highest degree earned
• Employment verification for last or current employer
Additional verification checks can be required if critical to the position. These include, but are not limited to,
credit screening and motor vehicle record check.
Q: Who conducts the background check?
A: Stanford has contracted with HireRight, an independent organization, to handle all background checks.
Q: When does a background check take place?
A: At the time a final candidate is selected and before the candidate begins employment.
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Q: What is the procedure for starting a background check?
A: Once a candidate is identified as the “final candidate” for a position, he/she will be required to submit two
• Release Authorization
• Disclosure to Employment Applicant Regarding Procurement of a Consumer Report
The process starts as soon as the forms are received by HireRight. Applicants will receive the Summary of
Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act from HireRight for their records.
Q: Who determines which positions require more than the basic background check?
A: The hiring department and Human Resources Manager (HRM) or HR group determines whether
additional background information is needed based upon the nature and duties of the position.
Q: Who has access to the background check details?
A: Access to the background check detailed results is limited to HR Transaction Services.
Q: How does the university protect an individual’s right to privacy?
A: Stanford University follows state and federal laws that ensure a candidate’s right to privacy, which
prohibits employees and others from using or disclosing personal information except within the scope of
their assigned duties.
As Stanford University’s vendor, HireRight conducts the background check under the direction of Stanford
University Human Resources. Departments do not receive any details of the background check, only a
notification of whether the screening has revealed results that do not meet Stanford University policy. Staff
in University Human Resources’ HR Transaction Services team have signed confidentiality agreements
with Stanford that prohibit the use of confidential information in any way.
Q: How will the candidate and the hiring manager learn the status of the screening?
A: Once the screening is complete, HireRight will notify the person who initiated the background check as
well as the identified hiring manager of the completion of the background check. The hiring manager or
department representative will contact the candidate with the screening results.
Q: What is the cost of a background check and who pays?
A: University HR covers the cost of background checks. The exact cost of a particular background check will
depend on the type of background check ordered, the nature of the position, and the number of
verifications needed to get the requested information. There is no charge to the requesting department.
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Q: How long does a background check take?
A: The normal turnaround time for a standard background check depends on the complexity of the
background check. Basic background checks (includes criminal felony and misdemeanor conviction search,
social security number trace, national criminal search, and the national sex offender registry search) take
approximately two to three business days to complete. The time to complete the background check begins
when the vendor receives the necessary information from the candidate.
Q: Can employees be hired before the background check has been cleared?
A: Yes. Contingent offers may be extended to a candidate before the background check is completed and
approved. The offer letter must explicitly identify this contingency. The candidate may not begin
employment until a background check is set to Meets Company Standards and no information on the
candidate will be entered into Stanford’s human resources system until successful completion of the
Q: What happens if negative information regarding the candidate is found?
A: If the vendor finds results that are “negative or indeterminate,” the vendor will notify Stanford that the
background check is “Pending Adjudication.” University HR (Employee and Labor Relations), together
with the local HR manager or group, will decide to conduct further adjudication of the negative result or to
disqualify the candidate from further consideration.
If the final result of adjudication is “Does Not Meet Company Standards,” then, on behalf of Stanford,
HireRight will communicate directly to the candidate as well. The candidate will have an opportunity to
challenge/appeal any findings. HireRight processes all appeals. For additional information about an
adverse action letter, the candidate can send an inquiry to HireRight at 5151 California Avenue, Irvine, CA
Q: What happens if Stanford receives inaccurate information regarding the candidate?
A: If the candidate feels there is an error or inaccurate information on the background check report, an appeal
must be filed with HireRight within 5-7 business days of receiving the notification from HireRight. Stanford
will give the candidate 30 days to rectify any erroneous information. If the candidate is unable to rectify the
error within 30 days, the hiring manager should move forward with another candidate.
Q: Will a criminal record automatically disqualify a candidate from obtaining a position at Stanford?
A: Not necessarily. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has held that a candidate
cannot be denied employment based on a criminal record alone. Instead, the decision to hire or not must be
based on “business necessity,” which requires the university to consider:
• The nature and gravity of the offense(s)
• The time that has passed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence
• The nature of the job for which the candidate has applied
• The accuracy and completeness of the candidate’s application
Q: Do candidates have the right to receive a copy of their background check?
A: Yes, candidates are given this right under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). To receive a copy, the
candidate will need to request one when completing the authorization form with HireRight.
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