Total Talent Management

Background checks: Overview

Last updated: May 1, 2024

The University of Washington conducts criminal conviction history background checks on all finalist candidates for employment in staff positions, and for student employee, volunteer and contractor placements designated as security/safety sensitive. Eligibility for employment or volunteer/contractor placements is conditioned on, among other things, receipt of a satisfactory criminal conviction report and proof of eligibility to work in the United States.

The offer of employment to a final candidate in any position requiring a criminal conviction history background check must be made contingent upon obtaining a satisfactory criminal conviction history background check.


The Campus and UW Medicine Recruiting teams in UW Human Resources (UWHR) are responsible for processing background checks, evaluating background check results, and informing hiring managers about candidate eligibility for employment. Checks are run through UW’s background check vendor, Sterling, after the offer has been extended.

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Review of background check results and employment eligibility

Except as required by law, when evaluating conviction history, the University considers the nature of the criminal conviction(s), its relationship to the position for which the candidate is being considered, how much time has passed since the conviction(s), the candidate’s complete employment history, records of relevant educational achievement, and any other information bearing on the candidate’s ability to function reliably, lawfully, and safely as an employee.

Only after this full assessment is completed does UWHR Recruiting determine whether it is appropriate to disqualify a candidate from employment based on a criminal conviction record.

Candidates can email if they would like to request a copy of their background check results.

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Background checks for current employees

The criminal conviction history background check requirement does not generally apply to internal UW candidates who have already satisfied the background check requirement during their current period of University employment. A background check is required when a current UW employee who has not already satisfied the background check requirement moves into a position that requires satisfactory completion of a background check.

UWHR may obtain a new or additional criminal conviction history background check if otherwise required by law or University policy, or if there is reasonable suspicion for relevant criminal history.

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Other background checks

Other legal or policy requirements may require UW to run additional background checks. These checks include, but are not limited to those run on:

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Prehire disclosures

During the staff employment application process at the University of Washington, applicants are required to complete prehire questionnaires. Employment or placement as a volunteer/contractor may be denied for any misrepresentation or omission in the information provided.

  • Criminal conviction history disclosure: For all positions at the medical centers which are covered by RCW 43.43.830, criminal conviction history self-disclosure occurs at time of application. For all campus positions, including staff, student employee and volunteer or contractor placements, the criminal conviction history disclosure is requested only after an applicant is determined otherwise qualified for a position. UWHR reviews candidate-disclosed convictions (if any) to determine if a conviction could be disqualifying for the position. Applicants to positions with unsupervised access to  children under 16 or vulnerable adults that self-disclose convictions that are permanently disqualifying are notified of their eligibility status and removed from consideration.
  • Sexual misconduct disclosure – Washington state law requires UW to ask final candidates to complete a sexual misconduct declaration prior to offer of employment. More information about the sexual misconduct disclosure can be found on the sexual misconduct policy webpage.

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