How to Verify a Candidate’s Educational Background

Checking on a candidate’s education, certification or licenses is an important step in the hiring process, and, although it is not difficult, it can take some effort and time. The process that we layout is straightforward, but important in that each step needs to take place before moving forward to the next.

Step 1: Request written information from the candidate. Do not run out and check on what the candidate has told you or where you think the candidate went to school. Acquiring written information provided from the candidate before proceeding is essential.

Step 2: Obtain a signed release. Once you have the information, we recommend that you acquire a written release from the candidate to call on the reported information. Many, if not all, institutions will require a written approval or release prior to providing an official transcript if one is needed or desired.

Step 3: Contact the school/institution. Most college registrars will confirm dates of attendance and/or graduation, certificates and/or degrees awarded, majors, GPA, etc., upon request. If the candidate gives written permission, as noted above, the institution may also provide a certified academic transcript.

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Look online for the college’s registrar’s contact information. Do not use the registrar’s contact information the candidate may have included. Do not take any phone numbers or email addresses from the candidate who could easily refer you to a buddy who could give an officially sounding, but fake confirmation of data reported.

Step 4: Conduct additional online research. Confirm that the school is accredited by a federally recognized agency. The FTC notes that colleges and universities accredited by legitimate accreditation agencies typically undergo a rigorous review process, not only of their programs, but admissions processes, graduation rates, materials used, etc. Many diploma mills claim to be “accredited,” but the accreditation mat be from a fake, yet official-sounding, agency.

Step 5: Record retention practices. Regardless of whether you hire the candidate, it is important to manage the personal information acquired confidentially. If you hire the candidate, ensure that this information is placed in their HR employee file. If you end up not hiring the candidate, for whatever reason, ensure that the information is placed in a recruitment file.

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