Background Checks

Columbia uses the vendor HireRight to conduct background checks, which are governed by Columbia University Policy.

Conducting Background Checks

Columbia University is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our community, including students, visitors and employees, as well as safeguarding the assets and resources of the University. In support of this effort, any applicant for a University position who receives a conditional offer of employment, will undergo a background check.

Once an employee has accepted the offer in HireRight, you can initiate the background check process. The applicant will receive an email from HireRight with a secure link. The estimated turnaround for a background check completion averages ten business days. Some checks may take longer depending on prompt collection of information and the number of resources needed to be contacted.

Columbia University Human Resources serves as the office of record for the background check results and maintains strict confidentiality. Departments do not receive any details of the background check, only a notification of whether the results do or do not meet University policy.

As of August 2022:

  • Domestic background checks are taking 3-5 business days on average*.
  • International background checks are taking 7-10 business days on average.

    *Assumes no criminal activity. 

Effective immediately, please expect clearance notification to come directly from HireRight. If more than one background check package was ordered for a candidate, a HireRight notification per package is needed before moving forward to next steps in the hiring process. Please contact the Background Check team at [email protected] with any questions.


Background Checks are governed by the Columbia University Background Check Policy. If you have any questions regarding the process after reading the policy, please contact [email protected].


Before submitting a request for a background check, we encourage you to review the University’s Background Check Policy Guidelines.

This document describes the background check process, roles and responsibilities, the specific background check requirements for each role, the adverse action process, and how to handle transfers, rehires and promotions.

Columbia uses the vendor HireRight to conduct background checks.

HireRight login 

Note: your username and password expire every ninety days. If your password has expired, Please contact the Background Check team at [email protected] or call HireRight at 866-915-6030.

Request or Remove Access to HireRight

Please complete the HireRight Access form.


Your candidate will receive an email asking their permission to do the background check. The email will include a hyperlink the candidate needs to click to begin the process. The hyperlink expires in five days, after which you will need to initiate another background check if the candidate has not responded.

Therefore, please let your candidate know that they can expect a time-sensitive email from HireRight and that they have five days to respond.

A number of factors can influence how long it takes for a background check to clear. For example, if the candidate has lived in multiple states, each of those states needs to be contacted and clearance needs to be received from multiple districts. Verifications for the highest degree earned and employment verifications may experience delays due to nonresponsive institutions/contacts. In these cases, candidates are encouraged to assist with contact information, redacted pay stubs and/or tax forms or IRS transcripts.

Employment can be verified through a number of ways:

1. The candidate can provide employer contact information including the name of the HR Representative/Manager, title, email address and phone number.

2. The candidate can provide pay stubs and/or tax documents (e.g., W2, 1099) covering months and/or years of employment. Please ensure the candidate redacts any monetary amounts on documents provided, as we are solely verifying employment information.

3. Additionally, the candidate can request tax transcripts directly from the IRS.

  • The candidate can go to their local IRS office.  The IRS will print for free a Wage and Transcript Form for the years request while you wait, or
  • The candidate can access the IRS website at:

4. Education verification can be verified with a copy of the candidate’s highest completed degree or a transcript.

Current employees whose position changes as a result of a transfer, promotion, or reclassification may be required to undergo a background check in cases where one was not conducted when that employee was initially hired, or if a new background check is needed because of the nature of the position. For Union employees, please review the respective Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Rehires with a break in service of more than six consecutive months will be required to undergo a background check.