How Long Does Education Verification Take from Start to Finish?

When considering prospective hires, finding an applicant with the right educational background is key—but unfortunately, not all applicants are honest on their resumes.

Education verification serves as an important step in a comprehensive pre-employment background check, especially when hiring for positions that require a specialized educational background. Verifying an applicant’s educational history can also expose dishonest candidates who have lied about or exaggerated their accomplishments.

The following is a quick guide to education verification, how long you can expect the process to take, and what you can do to ensure the fastest possible results.

What is education verification?

It’s an unfortunate fact that many job candidates lie on their applications—and that an impressive list of degrees on a perfect CV may be partially, or even totally, fabricated. Education verification is a screening process that checks an applicant’s educational history by making contact with all of their previous educational institutions.

During employment verification, an experienced background screening company reaches out to an applicant’s previous schools, including high schools, colleges and universities, and other academic institutions to find out if the information provided by the applicant is accurate.

Information returned from these screenings includes:

  • Degrees earned
  • Area of study
  • Dates of attendance
    Graduation dates

Education verification also helps make sure that your applicant’s degrees are from legitimate, accredited institutions.

Why is education verification necessary?

There are a number of reasons why verifying an applicant’s educational history is helpful for employers.

When hiring for positions in certain industries, such as the legal or medical fields, there are often legal requirements that go along with credentials—and hiring a candidate with falsified degrees could put you at risk of liability for negligent hiring.

There are also applicants who may try to exaggerate their accomplishments by using fake degrees that they’ve purchased from “diploma mills.” These unscrupulous companies sell false credentials and degrees for a profit and have proliferated online in recent years.

Since a fake degree from a diploma mill won’t actually satisfy any of the educational requirements of the job, it’s important to spot these fake degrees during the hiring process.

Finally, education verification can establish that your candidate is honest, hardworking, and knowledgeable.

Regardless of the qualifications required for the job, your company wants to know that its hires have earned their qualifications, degrees, and accolades. When used alongside employment verification and professional license verification services, education verification helps to ensure that your candidate’s been fully honest about their previous experience.

How long does education verification take?

The amount of time an education verification takes varies depending on the methods used. Verifying an applicant’s educational background yourself by personally contacting each institution may take several weeks. However, screenings through a professional third-party screening company are usually significantly faster.

On average, you can expect education verifications to take about 72 hours when conducted by an experienced background screening company. This process can still be slowed by a number of issues, however.

Each of the following factors may have an effect on turnaround time.

Level of degree

On average, colleges and universities tend to have quicker responses to verification requests than high school or trade school programs. Verifying a GED also tends to take significantly longer than verifying other degrees, since it may involve contacting the Department of Education for the state in which the test was taken.

Academic scheduling

The realities of the academic schedule can also slow down education verification services. Most academic institutions take a number of seasonal breaks in addition to breaks for federal holidays, and academic offices may be closed or only partially staffed during periods when the school isn’t open. For example, requesting education verification while an institution is on fall break may result in a slower response time.

Date of graduation

If an applicant’s degree was received a long time ago, it may have an impact on how quickly their records can be located. Institutions may not have easily accessible, digitized copies of older records, and in some cases the institution may have closed since the applicant graduated.

Input errors and incomplete information

If the information provided to your background screening company is incomplete or contains accidental errors, it may cause additional delays in the verification process.

If the applicant has changed names since graduation, it’s also important to ensure that they provide the name they used while attending, as this is the name the institution will use to locate their files.

Tips for fast, compliant education background checks

The following steps can help ensure the fastest possible education verification process—and keep your business on the right side of federal regulations.

Work with a third-party screening company

Contacting institutions yourself with requests for information will almost always take significantly longer than letting an experienced third party handle verification. A professional screening company will have the resources and experience to conduct verification efficiently and compliantly.

Make sure information is accurate and complete

Inaccurate or incomplete information on a candidate can result in significant delays. You’ll want to encourage job candidates to make sure they’ve entered their information correctly and completely so that educational institutions can quickly locate their records.

Compliance is key

When pursuing any kind of pre-employment background check, it’s absolutely vital to stay in compliance with all federal and state regulations. Failure to do so could put you at risk of legal repercussions.

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), all job applicants must be informed of their rights and provide written consent before you can pursue a background screening. There are also additional requirements for protecting the privacy and confidentiality of your applicants, as well as adverse action procedures for applicants who are turned down based on the results of a screening.

An experienced background screening company can help to ensure that all checks are pursued in full compliance with state and federal law.

Need fast, efficient screening solutions? We can help

The team at EagleScreen has the industry experience to complete education verification checks efficiently and compliantly. Our paperless system streamlines and speeds the verification process, minimizing delays and protecting your applicants’ privacy and personal information.

For more information on how we can help you with fast, effective screening solutions, contact us.

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