What Do Decisional Mean? (Decisional Background Check)
Decisional means that the background screening has determined there are elements in the report which require manual review by the hiring team.
Table of Contents
In today’s world, the vast majority of employers request background checks on potential hires,20 and when a background report is flagged as “decisional,” job candidates may find themselves asking “What does decisional mean on a background check?”
When this occurs, applicants should immediately run their own background check as soon as possible, either using a self-background check method or with a trusted agency. Many companies provide a 7-day free trial background check, which allows applicants to view the information that is causing the “decisional” status.
A decisional status on a background check relates to the individual’s history and the company policy, and interested applicants can request to read the company policy to ensure their eligibility.
Since decisional is one of the last steps of the background check process, knowing what type of background check is being processed (and why) as well as what shows up on a background check can help move the process along to the best conclusion…passing.
This guide explains all background check status codes, what they mean, and what applicants can do to make sure they know how to pass.
There are many types of background checks, and there are entire online glossaries of terminology associated with the background check process. Thus, a background check report can seem overwhelming to individuals who are not prepared to digest this format. They may find themselves fretting “What does decisional mean on a background check?” or “Is decisional bad on a background check?”
Most large companies, as well as many medium and small companies, contract with third-party consumer reporting agencies (CRAs) to conduct their background checks. Per the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA),29 consumers – the subjects of the background check – must give written consent for employment-related background checks to be conducted.
Oftentimes this entails the employer’s development of an adjudication matrix to be used by the preferred CRA. The adjudication matrix basically functions as a screening tool to help the reporting agency categorize the findings from the background investigation.9
The overall background check report will be assigned a status of “eligible” or “decisional.” An eligible status indicates that the candidate’s background check met the requirements for hire outlined in the company’s adjudication matrix.
A status of decisional means that there are areas of the report that must be reviewed directly by the employing company before making a hiring decision.9
Though “eligible” is the obvious, preferred background report result, a “decisional” outcome is not an automatic disqualification. In some cases, a “decisional” result may be returned because of a minor inconsistency between the candidate’s report and investigative findings or because some information was not able to be verified. This may be a simple situation to resolve.
In other situations, a “decisional” result may reflect a concerning finding from the MVR report or criminal records or from a previous employer. A candidate may be asked to explain the circumstances surrounding such issues.15
Background check status codes are terms utilized by CRAs to inform clients of progress and outcomes on investigative background reports. These status codes and other special terminology often seen in background check reports can be loosely categorized by function.
Some general terms include:
Functional terms include:
Record-specific status codes include:
The section-specific status codes include:
Overall report status codes include:
For a look at each of these terms and their explanations, read on.
What does decisional mean on a background check? When a background investigation finds information that does not pass the adjudication screening, it will be marked as “decisional”, requiring the employer to review the available information and make a hiring decision in accordance with company policy and values.20
When the status code “consider” is used on a background check, it means that the flagged element of the report must be reviewed by the employer to determine whether a candidate is eligible for employment. When combined with the past employee, it typically refers to whether a previous employee may be reinstated.
A decisional result is generated by an automated screening system, and it must be manually reviewed by the employer or hiring team to determine a candidate’s eligibility.19
The status codes “clear,” “completed,” and “consider” are among the most common status codes to appear on a background check. When a report is completed, it is finished and ready for viewing by the client and candidate. A report that is “clear” has found no reasons why an individual cannot be hired.
The status code “consider” is a bit more complicated. It means that although the report is complete, it does require the review or consideration of the employer to determine eligibility.5
Most background checks run some type of criminal record screening, but a fingerprint background check accesses the National Criminal Record Database (NCRD) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)30 to compare prints against state and federal level criminal records.23
The term “adjudication” may appear on a background check, particularly for medium to large companies. This term indicates that an automated screening tool is being implemented to identify which background check reports require a manual review by the consumer.14
Note that adjudication is also a term used in the context of criminal court cases and indicates that a judgment has been rendered.1
Related Reading: Will Deferred adjudication show on a background check?
Usually, if a background check displays a “canceled” status, it means that the process is essentially timed out due to incomplete information or consent provided by the candidate.13
However, specific sections of a background investigation can also be canceled should the consumer decide to downgrade the type or extensiveness of the background check.
The “disabled” status is very similar to the canceled status. The primary difference is that the consumer is not charged for background checks which are disabled.8
If a candidate or client receives a “discrepancy” notice, it means that the information supplied by the job candidate was not consistent with the CRA’s investigative findings. This could be an unintentional mistake in self-reporting or a deliberate exaggeration or fabrication.6, 22
Sometimes, an individual may see the term “undefined” on their background check. This is likely an indication that more information is required or the area could not be completed.
If an investigative background report was not completed due to inaccurate or incomplete information (e.g. non-legal name provided, incorrect social security number (SSN) or driver’s license number (DLN) provided), the report or aspects of the report may be flagged as “unperformable.”24
If a criminal background check was conducted as part of the overall background investigation, the results of the criminal check will be accessible to the client and candidate. Sometimes, arrests or court cases that did not result in a conviction, due to lack of evidence, may appear on a criminal record search with the status “dismissed.”11
In the context of a criminal case, a disposition is a final judgment in the case. A disposition can be a conviction, acquittal, or innocent verdict. This term may appear on the criminal record portion of a background check.12
The term “No Bill” may occasionally appear on the criminal record section of a background check. It denotes a grand jury’s decision not to indict based upon insufficient evidence.25
“Nolle Prosse” is very similar to “No Bill” and means that there was not enough evidence to convict and the case was subsequently dropped.
“Nolle Prosequi” occurs when a prosecutor states that they do not intend to prosecute the case, resulting in a dropped charge.12
The term “suppressed” refers to the type of criminal record being released. While an “unsuppressed” record includes all criminal records, a “suppressed” record does not include charges or convictions that have been sealed.
Certain employers may request the unsuppressed record in the interest of protecting vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and the ill.18
In some states, when an individual feels threatened by another person, they can apply for a license suppression (see California Vehicle Code Section 1808.21).31 A suppressed license means that the individual’s ID and other information which may reveal their residence, thus endangering them, shall not be revealed in background check reports.
When the term “unspecified” appears on a criminal record search, it means that although an individual does have a criminal record, the specific details related to the nature of a crime are not readily available.2, 16
When a report – or section of a report – is marked “clear,” it means that the background check has not revealed anything which precludes the candidate from employment under the customer.28
Various sections of the background check are labeled “complete” as the CRA finishes collecting information in the specified areas.
Note that “complete” does not refer to the quality of the report but rather the progress status.13
Many companies’ adjudication matrices use the Pass/Fail criteria to evaluate various areas of a background investigation. A report that has been marked “pass” has met the standards of the screening tool and does not require further evaluation by the employer.26
Each section of a background check is looked at and evaluated separately, and some CRAs use the term “record judged” to indicate that an element has been completed and is ready for viewing.8
In the context of a background check, the acronym FTI stands for federal tax information. Applicants for jobs requiring access to FTI must undergo a comprehensive background check with fingerprinting. Some examples of jobs that look at FTI on a background check include:3
As mentioned earlier, adjudication matrices often result in a Pass/Fail rating. However, the situation is sometimes a bit too complicated for the screening tool to make absolute decisions on. In these cases, the element in question will be flagged for “review” by the employer to determine eligibility.10 27
Sometimes, background checks are cut and dry and the adjudication matrix is able to determine whether a candidate is appropriate for a position. In the case that the candidate meets the standards input into the screening tool, the background check receives a green light, a.k.a “eligible” status code, and does not require further review.21
|Background Check Status Codes/Terms||What’s It Mean?|
|Adjudication||An adjudication matrix is often used to screen applicants undergoing background checks|
|Canceled||Report or aspect of the report is canceled|
|Clear||Passed background check|
|Completed||Report or sections of the report are finished|
|Consider||A specific element of the report requires manual review|
|Decisional||The background check report requires manual review|
|Disabled||The report is canceled at no charge to the consumer|
|Discrepancy||Inconsistency between candidate report and verification report|
|Dismissed||The court case did not result in a conviction|
|Disposition||Final judgment in a court case|
|Eligible||The green light on a background check. An individual is all clear to proceed|
|FTI||Federal Tax Information|
|NCRD||National Criminal Records Database|
|No Bill||The Grand jury has decided there is insufficient evidence to indict|
|Nolle||Not enough evidence to convict or the prosecutor does not intend to prosecute the case.|
|Pass||The adjudication matrix has determined that an element of the background check does not require further review by employing a company|
|Past Employee Consider||It indicates that a decision must be made about whether to reinstate a past employee|
|Record Judged||Similar to “complete;” indicates a section of the report is finished|
|Review||Element requires evaluation by the hiring team|
|Suppressed||Type of criminal record that does not show charges or convictions that have been sealed|
|Suppressed License||An individual’s license and driving records may be suppressed or hidden to protect their privacy and person|
|Undefined||This usually means more information is needed.|
|Unperformable||A background check cannot be completed due to incomplete or inaccurate information|
|Unspecified||A criminal charge has been confirmed but details of the crime are not available|
Individuals should receive a copy of their background check once it is completed. Additionally, employers will usually move forward with hiring if a background check was successful.17
Applicants also have the option to contact the hiring company for updates. Furthermore, some CRAs have candidate portals that allow individuals to check their background check status online.4
Often, employers use a screening tool called an adjudication matrix to sort background reports into one of two categories: Eligible or Decisional. An Eligible report means that all elements of the background check received a “Pass” status, and the company receives the green light to proceed with the hiring process for the candidate.
When a background check is returned with a “Decisional” status, one or more elements of the report have been flagged as needing review by the hiring team. In this situation, the employing company must evaluate the flagged elements and investigative findings on a case-by-case basis to determine if a candidate is eligible for employment.19
A “Decisional” status is never synonymous with background check failure, as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) 32 requires that employers give individual consideration to each case.
Unfortunately, it does not. Onboarding is the part of the hiring process which begins when a conditional offer of employment is made. The EEOC32 encourages employers to make conditional offers prior to conducting a background check; therefore, the background check is often part of the onboarding process. It is not unheard of for someone to have a failed background check after job offer. Onboarding should not be confused with new hire orientation, which occurs once an individual has been officially hired.7
Background checks are a routine part of the pre-employment process at most companies, but the language and terms used in reports can often be confusing. Individuals can familiarize themselves with the terminology and status codes on a background check by conducting a personal background check and reviewing this article for the complete answer to “What does decisional mean on a background check?”
Decisional means that the background screening has determined there are elements in the report which require manual review by the hiring team.
What disqualifies someone on a pre-employment background check depends largely on the type of job applied for and the policies of the employing company. For example, jobs in a position of trust (law enforcement, banking, education, healthcare) have more stringent checks and requirements than most other careers. In general, some items which may disqualify someone in a background check include:
Consider does not mean a failed background check. Rather, it means that the employer needs to review the background report to determine if a candidate is eligible for employment.5
A decisional result on a background check means that the background check service has completed the report and the report requires manual review by the hiring department to determine if a candidate is eligible for employment.
Many people have asked “What does decisional mean on a background check?” Remember that “decisional” is a background screening status which means the report has been flagged for review by the company which ordered the investigation.9
Like many other large-scale companies, Walmart routinely conducts background checks on candidates for employment. A decisional result means that the background investigation found information that was flagged for manual review by Walmart’s hiring department. This may be a significant criminal record or inaccurate self-reporting, for example.
The answer to this question is a bit unclear, but the term “supplemented” may indicate that additional information was gathered or should be gathered to complete the background check investigation.
First Advantage is a popular background screening service. This CRA has a sample background check report with interpretive guidelines for clients and candidates.8
An “Eligible” status on a background check report indicates that the background investigation has been completed and there were no adverse findings requiring review by the hiring team. In other words, the candidate’s self-reported information was verified and the criminal record did not raise any red flags. Thus “Eligible” functions as a green light for the employer to proceed with the hiring process.15
Individual elements of a background investigation may receive the status of Pass/Fail. Failing elements will be flagged for review by the client’s hiring department. Passing elements do not require manual review.
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