Level 2 Background Check

July 3, 2024
Reference Checks
Discover how level 2 background checks ensure secure hiring decisions and empower applicants with transparency and fairness.

Ever wondered how employers ensure they're making safe and informed hiring decisions? Level 2 background checks play a crucial role in this process by diving deep into an individual's history to uncover important details. Whether you're an employer striving to protect your workplace or an employee preparing to undergo this screening, understanding what level 2 background checks entail is vital.

These checks go beyond basic inquiries, examining criminal records, verifying employment and education histories, and checking references. They ensure that organizations hire trustworthy individuals while safeguarding privacy and adhering to legal standards. Let's explore everything you need to know about level 2 background checks, from their definition and purpose to best practices and benefits for both sides of the hiring equation.

What is a Level 2 Background Check?

A level 2 background check refers to a thorough investigation into an individual's criminal history, employment records, education credentials, and other relevant information. It goes beyond basic checks to provide a comprehensive assessment of an applicant's background and suitability for a position of trust or responsibility.

  • Scope: Level 2 background checks typically involve accessing criminal records at the county, state, and federal levels. They also verify employment history, educational qualifications, and may include reference checks.
  • Legal Context: The term "level 2" may vary in meaning depending on jurisdiction or industry standards. It often implies a higher level of scrutiny compared to basic background checks.

Purpose of Level 2 Background Checks

The primary purpose of conducting a level 2 background check is to enable employers to make informed hiring decisions based on an applicant's background and qualifications.

  • Risk Mitigation: By conducting thorough screenings, employers aim to mitigate risks associated with hiring individuals who may pose a threat to workplace safety or integrity due to criminal history or falsified credentials.
  • Ensuring Qualifications: Verifying an applicant's qualifications ensures that they possess the necessary skills and experience required for the position. This helps maintain productivity and performance standards within the organization.
  • Legal Compliance: Many industries and positions require compliance with regulatory standards that mandate background checks. Employers conduct these checks to adhere to legal requirements and mitigate potential legal liabilities.

Importance of Level 2 Background Checks

Level 2 background checks hold significant importance for both employers and employees, each benefiting from a transparent and thorough screening process that ensures safety, compliance, and fairness.

Level 2 Background Check Importance for Employers

Employers rely on level 2 background checks to:

  • Protect Workplace Safety: Screening for criminal history helps mitigate risks of workplace violence, theft, or other misconduct that could harm employees or the organization.
  • Reduce Legal Risks: By conducting thorough background checks, employers demonstrate due diligence in hiring, reducing the risk of negligent hiring claims or legal liabilities.
  • Enhance Trust and Reputation: Maintaining a rigorous screening process enhances the organization's reputation as a responsible employer committed to safety, integrity, and compliance.
  • Ensure Regulatory Compliance: Many industries are subject to regulatory requirements that mandate background checks, such as healthcare or financial services. Employers conduct these checks to comply with industry regulations and standards.

Level 2 Background Check Importance for Employees

Employees benefit from level 2 background checks by:

  • Ensuring Fair Evaluation: Knowing that all applicants undergo thorough screenings promotes fairness in the hiring process, ensuring that individuals are evaluated based on qualifications and merit.
  • Promoting Workplace Safety: Employees can feel reassured knowing that their colleagues have undergone background checks, contributing to a safe and secure work environment.
  • Protecting Personal Information: Background checks conducted in accordance with legal standards protect applicants' personal information and privacy rights, enhancing trust in the employer's handling of sensitive data.
  • Facilitating Career Development: For employees, passing a background check confirms their suitability for the role and supports their career advancement within the organization.

Understanding these aspects of level 2 background checks enables employers to implement effective screening practices while providing applicants with transparency and confidence in the hiring process. This mutual understanding fosters a positive relationship between employers and employees based on trust, fairness, and compliance with legal standards.

The Level 2 Background Check Legal Framework

Navigating the legal landscape surrounding level 2 background checks is crucial for both employers and employees. This section delves into the regulatory framework and jurisdictional variations that shape how these checks are conducted and their implications.

Regulations and Compliance Requirements

Level 2 background checks are subject to a variety of regulations at the federal, state, and sometimes local levels. These regulations dictate the permissible scope of background checks, the rights of individuals undergoing them, and the responsibilities of employers in handling sensitive information.

  1. Federal Regulations: At the federal level, background checks are governed primarily by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when conducted by third-party consumer reporting agencies. The FCRA mandates certain procedures for obtaining consent, notifying applicants of adverse actions based on background check results, and ensuring accuracy and fairness in reporting.
  2. State and Local Regulations: States may have additional regulations that impose stricter requirements or provide additional protections beyond federal law. Some states restrict the use of certain types of criminal records or impose limits on how far back employers can inquire into an applicant's history.
  3. Industry-Specific Regulations: Certain industries, such as healthcare or finance, may have specific regulatory requirements governing background checks due to the nature of the work and access to sensitive information.

Variations by Jurisdiction

Jurisdictional differences play a significant role in how background checks are conducted and what information can be legally obtained and considered.

  • State Laws: States vary widely in terms of what information can be included in a background check and how employers can use that information in their hiring decisions. For example, some states prohibit employers from asking about arrests that did not lead to convictions or limit how far back they can inquire into an applicant's criminal history.
  • Local Ordinances: In addition to state laws, certain cities or counties may have their own ordinances that impose additional restrictions or requirements on background checks. Employers operating in multiple locations must be aware of and comply with all applicable local laws.

Understanding these regulations and variations is essential for employers to conduct background checks legally and ethically while protecting the rights of applicants. It also ensures that employees are aware of their rights throughout the process, fostering transparency and fairness in the hiring process.

Components of a Level 2 Background Check

Understanding the components of a level 2 background check is essential for both employers and employees to grasp the thoroughness and implications of these screenings. Each component plays a crucial role in assessing an individual's suitability for a position of trust within an organization.

Criminal History Review

One of the fundamental components of a level 2 background check is the review of an individual's criminal history. This involves searching databases at the county, state, and federal levels to uncover any criminal records that may exist.

  • Scope: Background check providers typically look for convictions, pending charges, and in some cases, arrests that have not resulted in convictions.
  • Legal Considerations: The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state laws govern how criminal history information can be used in employment decisions. Employers must consider factors such as the relevance of the offense to the position and the time elapsed since the offense.
  • Accuracy: Ensuring the accuracy of criminal history information is crucial. Mistaken identity or incorrect reporting can have serious consequences for the individual undergoing the background check.

Employment History Verification

Verifying an applicant's employment history is another critical aspect of a level 2 background check. This process confirms the accuracy of information provided by the applicant regarding their work experience and employment timeline.

  • Verification Process: Employers or background check providers contact previous employers to verify dates of employment, job titles, responsibilities, and reasons for leaving.
  • Importance: Validating employment history helps employers assess an applicant's honesty and integrity. It also ensures that the applicant possesses the required experience and qualifications for the role.
  • Challenges: Sometimes, discrepancies may arise between what an applicant claims and what employers report. Employers must have procedures in place to address and resolve these discrepancies fairly and transparently.

Education Verification

Educational credentials are often critical in assessing an applicant's qualifications for a position. Education verification confirms that the degrees, diplomas, certifications, or licenses claimed by the applicant are legitimate and obtained from accredited institutions.

  • Verification Methods: Background check providers contact educational institutions directly to verify degrees earned, dates of attendance, and any honors received.
  • Importance: Verifying education helps employers ensure that applicants possess the necessary knowledge and skills required for the position. It also prevents the misrepresentation of qualifications.
  • Credential Mills: Employers should be cautious of diploma mills or unaccredited institutions that issue fraudulent degrees. Thorough verification procedures can help identify and mitigate this risk.

Reference Checks

Reference checks involve contacting individuals provided by the applicant who can provide insights into their character, work ethic, and performance in previous roles.

  • Types of References: References may include former supervisors, colleagues, or professional contacts who can provide a perspective on the applicant's abilities and suitability for the position.
  • Depth of Inquiry: Effective reference checks go beyond confirming employment dates. They seek to gather qualitative information about an applicant's strengths, areas for development, and overall performance.
  • Legal Considerations: Employers must obtain consent from applicants to contact references and ensure that the information gathered is used in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Understanding these components and their implications enables employers to conduct thorough and fair level 2 background checks while providing applicants with transparency and respect for their privacy and rights.

How to Conduct a Level 2 Background Check?

Understanding the process involved in conducting a level 2 background check is essential for employers seeking to make informed hiring decisions and for individuals undergoing the screening. This section explores each stage of the process in detail, from initial screening to final reporting.

Initial Screening and Consent

The first step in conducting a level 2 background check is obtaining the applicant's consent. This initial screening ensures that the applicant is aware of and agrees to undergo the background check process.

  • Purpose of Consent: Consent forms typically outline the specific types of information that will be gathered, how it will be used, and the rights of the applicant under applicable laws (such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the United States).
  • Legal Requirements: Employers must ensure that consent is obtained in a clear and understandable manner. Failure to obtain proper consent can result in legal consequences and violations of privacy laws.
  • Disclosure: Applicants should receive a clear disclosure of their rights, including the right to review and dispute information contained in the background check report.

Data Collection and Sources

Once consent is obtained, the process of collecting data begins. Background check providers utilize various sources to gather information relevant to the applicant's background and qualifications.

  • Sources of Information: Data collection may include criminal databases, credit bureaus (for financial positions), educational institutions, previous employers, and personal references.
  • Accuracy and Reliability: Employers should select reputable background check providers capable of accessing accurate and up-to-date information. Verification of sources is crucial to ensure the reliability of the data collected.
  • Compliance: Data collection must comply with applicable laws and regulations governing the use of personal information, such as data protection and privacy laws.

Verification Procedures

Verification procedures are central to the integrity of a level 2 background check. These procedures involve confirming the accuracy and authenticity of the information gathered during the data collection phase.

  • Methodology: Trained personnel or automated systems verify information by contacting sources directly (e.g., previous employers, educational institutions) to validate employment history, educational credentials, and other relevant details.
  • Cross-Checking: Cross-referencing information from multiple sources helps ensure consistency and accuracy. Discrepancies or inconsistencies may require further investigation or clarification.
  • Timeliness: Employers should set clear timelines for conducting background checks to avoid delays in the hiring process while ensuring thoroughness and accuracy.

Reporting and Documentation

Upon completion of verification procedures, background check providers compile a detailed report summarizing their findings. This report serves as a critical tool for employers in making informed hiring decisions.

  • Content of the Report: Background check reports typically include information on criminal history, employment verification, education verification, and references contacted. Reports may also include a summary of findings and any relevant notes or comments.
  • Adverse Actions: If adverse information is uncovered that may impact the hiring decision, employers are required by law (such as the FCRA) to provide applicants with a copy of the report and a chance to dispute inaccuracies.
  • Confidentiality and Security: Employers must handle background check reports with care to protect the confidentiality and security of applicants' personal information. Secure storage and proper disposal of sensitive data are essential.

Understanding and following these processes not only ensures compliance with legal requirements but also promotes fairness and transparency in the hiring process. Employers and applicants alike benefit from a structured approach that respects privacy rights and maintains the integrity of background check results.

Examples of Level 2 Background Checks

Understanding real-world examples of level 2 background checks can provide insights into their application across different industries and scenarios. These examples highlight how organizations utilize thorough screenings to make informed hiring decisions and ensure workplace safety.

Healthcare Industry

In the healthcare sector, level 2 background checks are crucial due to the sensitive nature of patient care. Hospitals and healthcare facilities conduct comprehensive screenings to verify credentials, check for any history of malpractice or disciplinary actions, and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements such as those outlined by the Joint Commission.

Example: A hospital hiring for nursing positions conducts a level 2 background check on all applicants. This includes verifying nursing licenses, checking employment history for relevant experience, and screening for any criminal records that may impact patient safety.

Financial Services Sector

Financial institutions place a high priority on integrity and trustworthiness when hiring employees who handle sensitive financial information. Level 2 background checks in this sector typically involve thorough examinations of an applicant's credit history, criminal background, and professional qualifications.

Example: A bank conducting a level 2 background check on a potential hire for a financial advisor role verifies the applicant's credentials, checks for any past financial misconduct, and confirms educational qualifications related to finance and investments.

Education Sector

Schools and educational institutions conduct level 2 background checks to ensure the safety of students and maintain a secure learning environment. These checks may include reviewing an applicant's criminal history, verifying teaching certifications, and checking for any disciplinary actions taken against the individual.

Example: A school district performing a level 2 background check on a teacher applicant reviews the candidate's educational credentials, checks for any previous criminal offenses that could affect their suitability to work with children, and contacts references to verify their teaching experience and performance.

Government Contracts and Security Clearances

Government agencies and contractors often require level 2 background checks for employees working on projects involving national security or sensitive information. These checks involve extensive reviews of an individual's criminal history, financial records, and past employment to assess eligibility for security clearances.

Example: A defense contractor conducting a level 2 background check on a software engineer applicant reviews the candidate's security clearance eligibility, checks for any financial ties that may pose a conflict of interest, and verifies past employment at technology firms specializing in defense-related projects.

These examples illustrate how level 2 background checks are tailored to meet the specific needs and requirements of different industries and sectors. By conducting thorough screenings, organizations can mitigate risks, uphold regulatory compliance, and maintain trust and safety within their respective fields.

Level 2 Background Check Challenges

Navigating level 2 background checks involves addressing several common challenges and considerations that both employers and employees should be aware of to ensure a smooth and fair process.

  • Handling Sensitive Information: One of the primary challenges in conducting background checks is handling sensitive personal information with utmost confidentiality and security. Employers must implement robust data protection measures to safeguard applicant data from unauthorized access or breaches.
  • Addressing Privacy Concerns: Applicants may have legitimate concerns about the privacy of their personal information during the background check process. It's crucial for employers to communicate transparently about how information will be used, stored, and disposed of in compliance with applicable privacy laws.
  • Dealing with Discrepancies: Discrepancies between the information provided by applicants and the findings of background checks can occur. Employers should have clear procedures in place to address discrepancies fairly, allowing applicants the opportunity to explain or correct inaccuracies.
  • Compliance with Legal Requirements: Staying compliant with federal, state, and local laws governing background checks presents a significant challenge. Employers must stay informed about evolving regulations and ensure that their screening practices adhere to legal standards to avoid potential legal liabilities.
  • Time and Resource Investment: Conducting thorough background checks requires time and resources, especially for organizations processing a high volume of applicants. Employers should balance efficiency with the need for comprehensive screenings to make informed hiring decisions.

Best Practices for Employers

Employers can optimize their level 2 background check processes by adopting best practices that ensure thoroughness, fairness, and compliance with legal standards. These practices not only streamline the hiring process but also mitigate risks associated with negligent hiring and promote a positive employer brand.

  • Establish Clear Policies and Procedures: Develop comprehensive guidelines outlining the procedures for conducting background checks. Clearly communicate these policies to HR personnel involved in the hiring process to ensure consistency and fairness.
  • Ensure Compliance with Legal Requirements: Stay informed about federal, state, and local laws governing background checks, including the FCRA and relevant anti-discrimination laws. Adhere to these regulations to protect applicants' rights and avoid legal liabilities.
  • Obtain Informed Consent: Obtain written consent from applicants before initiating a background check. Provide applicants with clear information about the types of information that will be collected, how it will be used, and their rights under applicable laws.
  • Use Reliable Background Check Providers: Partner with reputable background check providers with a proven track record of accuracy and compliance. Verify that providers adhere to industry standards and guidelines for data security and privacy protection.
  • Ensure Transparency and Communication: Maintain open communication with applicants throughout the background check process. Inform them of any findings that may impact their candidacy and provide them with an opportunity to review and dispute inaccuracies.
  • Respect Applicant Privacy: Handle applicant data with utmost confidentiality and implement secure storage and disposal procedures to protect against unauthorized access or breaches.
  • Train HR Personnel: Provide training and resources to HR personnel responsible for conducting background checks. Equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate legal requirements, handle sensitive information, and make informed hiring decisions.

Tips for Employees Undergoing Level 2 Checks

If you're an employee undergoing a level 2 background check, understanding your rights and responsibilities can help you navigate the process with confidence and ensure a smooth experience. These tips will help you prepare and respond effectively during the background check process.

  • Understand Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with your rights under the FCRA and other applicable laws. Know what information can be included in a background check, how it will be used, and your right to dispute inaccuracies.
  • Be Transparent and Accurate: Provide accurate and truthful information on your application and resume. Disclose any relevant information, such as criminal history or employment gaps, to potential employers upfront.
  • Prepare for Communication: Be prepared to discuss any discrepancies that may arise during the background check process. Provide additional documentation or explanations as needed to clarify information.
  • Maintain Professionalism: Treat all interactions with employers and background check providers professionally. Respond promptly to requests for information or clarification to demonstrate your commitment and cooperation.
  • Ask Questions: If you have concerns or questions about the background check process, don't hesitate to ask. Seek clarification from the employer or background check provider regarding the scope, timeline, and purpose of the background check.
  • Review and Verify Information: Before applying for a position, review your own background information. Verify the accuracy of your employment history, educational credentials, and any other relevant details that may be subject to verification.
  • Follow Up Appropriately: After the background check is complete, follow up with the employer to inquire about the status of your application. If adverse information was found, understand your rights to review the report and dispute any inaccuracies.

By following these tips, you can approach the level 2 background check process proactively and professionally. Understanding your rights and responsibilities as an applicant contributes to a transparent and fair hiring process for both you and the employer.


Level 2 background checks serve as a critical tool for employers and employees alike in ensuring safety, integrity, and compliance throughout the hiring process. For employers, these checks offer a reliable means to mitigate risks associated with hiring decisions, promoting a secure work environment and protecting organizational reputation. By following best practices, such as obtaining informed consent, using reputable providers, and maintaining transparency, employers can foster trust with applicants and demonstrate their commitment to fair hiring practices.

For employees, understanding the importance and process of level 2 background checks empowers individuals to navigate the hiring process confidently. By cooperating with employers and providing accurate information, candidates can contribute to a smooth screening process and showcase their qualifications effectively. Ultimately, a well-executed background check process benefits everyone involved by promoting fairness, safety, and mutual respect in the workplace. Whether you're an employer striving to build a dependable team or an applicant eager to embark on a new opportunity, embracing the principles of thorough background screening ensures a foundation of trust and integrity in every employment relationship.

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