Text Size:
Decrease font size
Increase font size

Pre-employment Background Check Frequently Asked Questions


1. Why does UNC-Chapel Hill conduct pre-employment background checks?

The University is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for students, faculty, staff, visitors and other constituents and to protecting its funds, property, and other assets. Well-informed hiring decisions facilitate this effort.

Therefore, the University does not employ individuals with prior criminal convictions who pose an unacceptable risk to the University or its employees, students, and visitors. This policy establishes procedures for carrying out a pre-employment background check for prospective employees.

2. Who is subject to a pre-employment background check?

All Faculty: paid or unpaid, permanent or temporary, including adjunct, fixed-term, tenure track and tenured, prior to initial appointment.

All EPA Non-Faculty: permanent, temporary, full-time, part-time; prior to hire, promotion, or transfer.

All SPA: permanent, temporary, full-time, part-time: prior to hire, promotion or transfer.

All employees: prior to hire.

Post-Doctoral Fellows, Medical Fellows, and Chief Medical Residents: prior to hire.

Others as determined by UNC-Chapel Hill Human Resources and/or UNC-Chapel Hill Counsel.

3. If an existing University employee changes positions, is a new pre-employment background check required?

SPA employees who are promoted or who transfer to a new position as a result of a promotion or transfer must have a new pre-employment background check. EPA non-faculty employees who have a job change to a new position, either through a competitive recruitment or a waiver of recruitment from the EEO Office, must also have a new pre-employment background check. Faculty employees are subject to a pre-employment background check only at the time of their initial appointment.

4. Is a pre-employment background check still performed for an individual who has no Social Security number (SSN) or discloses that they have never lived or worked in the United States before?

Yes, if the individual has no SSN or no prior residential or work history in the United States, this should be indicated on the pre-employment background check. The Office of Human Resources (OHR) will make a good faith effort to confirm that no residential history or criminal convictions have been recorded for this individual. Depending on how common a name the individual has, without an SSN, OHR may not be able to obtain a meaningful residential history or background check result, in which case they will indicate that on the pre-employment background check form returned to the hiring department or, for SPA permanent positions, the relevant consultant in the Office of Human Resources.

5. Are all student employees exempt from checks?

It depends. It is not necessary to conduct checks for UNC-Chapel Hill students if their employment is “incidental to” their primary role as a student – such as graduate assistants or work-study students. If a student graduates or doesn’t re-enroll and the department wishes to continue his/her employment, the “temp/student” assignment must be terminated, and he/she must be hired as “temporary staff.” Such hires require a pre-employment background check. This would include a student who is working in a temporary capacity over the summer, but is not enrolled in classes during the summer terms.

An individual whose primary purpose for being at UNC-Chapel Hill is to work as a temporary or regular employee — even if he/she is also registered for one or more classes is considered an “employee” rather than a “student” and is subject to the pre-employment background check requirement.

6. Is a candidate from another State agency or another institution in the UNC System required to have a check?

Yes. Any finalist who is employed at another State agency or university must have a pre-employment background check completed.

7. What types of checks are conducted?

Pre-employment background checks are conducted for all candidates in any locality where the candidate has lived or worked. Motor vehicle-related convictions (such as DUI convictions) may appear on these records. The candidate’s information is also matched against the National Sex Offender database, and is used in a Federal-level conviction check. Additionally, for positions in which a driver’s license is required as an essential function of the position, the hiring department must request a North Carolina Driver’s License (“NCDL”) check for the candidate. Included in this category are employees whose duties require them to drive a motor vehicle, and those who are anticipated to be required to drive a State-owned vehicle. If the proposed hire has possessed a driver’s license from a state other than North Carolina within the past 12 months, a separate driver’s license check from that state will also be required.

8. Does a candidate have to give permission for a check to be conducted?

Yes. Applications include the individual’s authorization for the University to conduct a pre-employment background check. In compliance with federal requirements, candidates complete and sign an Background Check Request form available here. If a candidate declines to give permission then no check will be conducted; however, because a pre-employment background check is a requirement for employment, he/she cannot be employed by the University.

9. What form do I use?

The Background Check Request form is available here. It is also included in the Form Finder section of the OHR website under “Recruitment and Selection Forms.” Please ensure that you use the new form since it includes new questions to determine whether a Driver’s License check is also required. Please note that routing the form is different for Faculty and other University applicants and employees, as specified in the appropriate policy. The faculty policy is available here.

The policy for EPA Non-Faculty and SPA categories of employees is found online here.

10. Is there additional paperwork required?

Only if a candidate is disqualified wholly or in part due to the results of the pre-employment background check. In that case, the following notifications are required under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.

If a pre-employment background check is a factor in the hiring decision, the candidate must be sent the following material:

a registered letter (sample letter at http://hr.unc.edu/n/CCM1_018728)

a copy of the pre-employment background check report; and,

a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” available here.

The candidate has ten calendar days after receipt of above material to respond with any additional information they want the University to consider.

A second registered letter must be sent to the candidate after the 10 day period if the pre-employment background check is a factor in deciding not to hire the candidate (sample letter at http://hr.unc.edu/n/CCM1_018729).

11. Do previous criminal convictions disqualify an applicant from consideration for employment?

No, previous convictions do not automatically disqualify a candidate from consideration for employment. Eligibility for employment depends on a variety of factors such as the nature of, and circumstances surrounding, the crime; the time elapsed since the conviction; the rehabilitation record; the actions and activities of the individual since the crime (including his/her work history); the truthfulness and completeness of the candidate in disclosing the conviction; and the relevance of the conviction to the job.

12. Can the results of a pre-employment background check affect a current employee’s job even if the check was conducted for promotion or transfer purposes?

If the current employee is discovered to have falsified information on current or previous applications — or if the results of the pre-employment background check are relevant to their current duties – appropriate action will be taken, up to and including dismissal. In addition, as part of the application process, all employees have a duty to report any convictions that have occurred subsequent to commencement of service to the University.

13. What information do candidates need to disclose on the application and release form?

Candidates must disclose all convictions for unlawful offenses. “All convictions” includes guilty pleas, guilty verdicts, prayers for judgment (PJC), and non-contested charges. Reportable convictions include not just “serving jail time,” but also paying fines or restitution. Examples: DUI, DWI, worthless checks, violations of local ordinances or state laws that result in fines, misdemeanors, felonies, etc.

Candidates do not need to list conviction(s) for which they have court documentation that the conviction(s) has been sealed or expunged.

Candidates should list all convictions, even if the candidate thinks the incident was minor. If a candidate is unsure of his/her record, he/she may obtain a copy of his/her criminal records from the appropriate county courthouse (such as the Wake County Courthouse). A candidate may obtain a copy of his/her driving record from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

14. What happens if a candidate does not disclose all conviction information?

Falsification, including misrepresentation or a failure to disclose information (omission) as part of the application process or on the release form, may disqualify a candidate from employment whether or not the falsification was intentional. Current employees may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

15. How does the hiring department know the result of the check?

The Background Investigation section of OHR notifies the hiring department of clearance. If the pre-employment background check is not clear, the hiring department will receive further guidance from OHR, or receive a copy of the pre-employment background check report from the Background Investigation section, depending upon the category of the position for which the candidate is applying.

16. How does the candidate know the result of the check?

If the pre-employment background check confirms no convictions, the hiring department should contact the candidate to finalize the employment offer and establish a start date. If the hiring department decides not to proceed with hiring the candidate due wholly or in part to the results of the pre-employment background check, then the OHR or the hiring department provides written notice to the candidate, consistent with federal requirements – both before and after any action is taken. Whether this is the responsibility of OHR or the hiring department depends upon the category of the position for which the candidate is applying. Please refer to the appropriate policy for details.

17. Can the candidate get a copy of his/her pre-employment background check?

Yes, if adverse action was taken due wholly or in part to the results of the pre-employment background check, the OHR or the hiring department (depending upon the category of position the candidate has applied for) will provide appropriate contact information in its written notification to the candidate so he/she can obtain a copy of the information that was provided to the University.

18. How much will the pre-employment background check cost, and how will it be paid?

The current price list for pre-employment background checks is available here. Currently, prices range from $30-$86 depending upon the number of localities that need to be checked. There will be an additional charge of at least $12 if a DL check is required.

19. What type of funds can be used to pay for pre-employment background checks?

The Finance & Accounting division advises that departments charge the background check fee to funds that match the position’s funding. For example:

  • If a position is primarily funded by state monies, then the background fee can be charged to a state account.
  • If a position is primarily contract or grant funded, the background check fee can be charged to a grant account. However, the department must do the following:
    • Use one of the specific chartfield fund codes associated with the contract or grant.
    • Provide the corresponding project ID (Fund codes beginning with 252XX must be accompanied by the corresponding project ID).
  • If a department has discretionary gift funds, then those funds may be used for background check fees.

20. How do I get a driver’s license check?

A driver’s license check is mandatory for individuals where driving is required to perform their duties, or who would be expected in performing their regular duties to be required to drive a University/State-owned vehicle. The hiring department answers the two driving related questions at the top of page 3 of the pre-employment background check form, and the candidate answers two questions in the middle of page 1 of the form.

21. Where do I send the pre-employment background check form and who do I contact with additional questions?

SPA permanent employee’s forms should be sent to the requesting departments Employment and Staffing Consultant.

EPA Faculty member’s forms should be sent to the Dean’s office.

EPA Non-Faculty and all Temporary forms should be sent to:

Background Investigator

Office of Human Resources

AOB, Suite 1100, CB# 1045

Fax: 919-962-4279

Please contact the Background Investigation section at 843-4413 or 962-9768 if you have additional questions.