What Is a Level 2 Background Check?

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Posted by: David Garcia May 02, 2024

If you’re starting the recruitment process, you may be required to perform a Level 2 background check on any potential employee. However, many recruiters are unaware of the different levels of background checks, much less what’s involved when they’re performed.

In this guide, we’ll break down all the details of Level 2 background checks and provide you with a foundation of knowledge on what to expect from this level of screening.

What Is a Level 2 Background Check?

Typically, the general public understands what background checks are and what they are for. Nowadays, it’s easy to stretch the truth about one’s experience and identity, so employers are cracking down on ways to sort through all the misinformation and find candidates worth hiring. 

To do this, many companies are enlisting the help of background checks and screening services. It’s clear to see why these services are being utilized now more than ever before, but what do the different levels mean, and how will they pertain to you? Read on to find out.

Level 1 vs Level 2

For starters, let’s break down the difference between Level 1 and Level 2 background checks. In simple terms, a Level 1 background check typically involves a check based solely on your legal name. In these instances, candidates must provide documentation confirming their legal name and identity so that the person conducting the check can learn about their history. 

Level 1 checks will dive into any criminal background and employment history. These checks are usually done by state rather than nationwide. While these screenings are helpful to get a baseline of who someone is and their history, there are some gaps in the information an employer may be looking for.

Level 2 background checks are more in-depth. The process for these checks will involve fingerprinting performed on a national scale rather than only within the state boundary. This screening level will provide insight into federal offenses and uncover any hidden or expunged records candidates may have.

This type of check is designed to be much more extensive. Employers will require Level 2 background checks for certain jobs to ensure they hire a trustworthy employee with a clean record. These checks evaluate the candidate honestly and look past any embellishments or lies that may have made their way onto a resume.

How Long Do Level 2 Background Checks Take?

Since Level 2 background checks are more thorough than Level 1 checks, they can take longer to process and deliver results. That said, the overall process should only take three to seven business days. This period will vary from case to case, but it’s important to communicate openly with all parties should there be any updates. 

What Does a Level 2 Background Check Show?

Now that we’ve covered the basics of a Level 2 background check and why it may be required, you may wonder how they differ from what a Level 1 check will show when they return.

Review the list below to learn about the many things that can and will appear on these checks to prepare you for your final decision.

Disqualifying Offenses

An employer will choose a Level 2 background check to get an all-encompassing report of the potential candidate and have insight into any disqualifying offenses

As the name suggests, disqualifying offenses typically make a candidate ineligible for hire, but this will depend on who is conducting the background check and the role at stake. 

Since Level 2 background checks pull federal, nationwide data, they’re all-encompassing and will shed light on all charges a candidate may have faced. 

These offenses typically include but are not limited to prison and criminal records, juvenile arrests, expunged records, or any other instances where an individual faced legal implications for their actions. Level 2 screenings can go back as far as records go, though most employers will choose to keep their search within the past ten years.

Disqualifying offenses may not always rule a candidate out for their preferred job. Honesty and transparency are highly valued throughout the hiring process and can improve a candidate’s chances even if the check highlights such offenses.

Employment History and Education

Another critical element of a Level 2 background check is pulling all employment and education history. This is included in the screening results so employers can fact-check candidate resumes and ensure the information provided is accurate and honest.

Limitations of a Level 2 Background Check

While Level 2 background checks are meticulous, there are some limitations. One primary limitation that won’t be shown on a background check is an individual’s medical history. This information can’t be used against a potential employee for hiring purposes and is only relevant for employers to review after hiring. 

Some other limitations are less common but can be seen in the form of charges being dropped or listed as exempt by the person reviewing the screening. These cases are much less common and only apply to a few Level 2 checks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who Needs to Go Through a Level 2 Background Check?

Employers may request potential employees undergo a Level 2 background check. These checks are designed to provide employers with an all-encompassing look at their candidates to make an informed decision in the hiring process.

What Disqualifies You From a Background Check?

Numerous disqualifying offenses may come back on a candidate’s background check. While these items vary in severity, some may include a criminal history, violent offenses, or even the discovery of information that does not align with what was provided previously.

What Is the Highest Level of Background Check?

Level 4 background checks are the highest an employee can undergo. Level 3 and Level 4 checks are typically reserved for executive positions, government jobs, and other professions that may deal with confidential information.

Can I Do a Level 2 Check on Myself?

While you can perform certain background checks on yourself, you cannot do a Level 2 check alone. These checks require the help of a professional, as you must supply clear and accurate fingerprints to the screening facility.

Final Thoughts

For recruiters and hiring managers, it’s always best to be informed of all forms of checks and to know what instances they may be used for. Conducting the proper checks into an individual’s employment and legal history can save you further headaches down the line. 

Level 2 background checks are extensive and can give employers the peace of mind that they’re hiring the right person for the job. If you’re looking to implement background screening at your company to hire the most trustworthy candidates, we’re here to help. Take a look at our employment screening services to get started today.

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