How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Nick Fishman

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Conducting background checks on a perspective employee is a crucial part of any hiring process. Employment screening can take anywhere from one to five days in most cases. This often depends on the type of background check an employer is running and myriad other circumstances.

While many employers want the quickest possible turnaround, it is more important to be both thorough and accurate. This helps to mitigate risk at a later date and ensures that employees will reflect the value of the company.

There are multiple aspects to a pre-employment screening. Depending on the organization, industry and job responsibilities, checks can include elements such as a criminal background check, reference checks, employment verification, education verification, driving record, drug testing and, or social media research. All of these aspects are important, and all can take time.

Where Delays Can Occur

The best method for conducting criminal background checks is to research any county court/s where an individual has resided over the course of their adult life.  There are about 3,000 counties in the United States, and unfortunately there is no reliable centralized database of criminal records.

One bottleneck that can occur is when a court mandates that the research must be conducted by one of their own clerks. In some cases, this can take a week or more and there is no reliable alternative. Other delays can occur when a record is found. If your background screening company is doing their job properly, they will use methods to ensure the record they are reporting belongs to the person your are screening, is accurate and up to date and is legally reportable.

When it comes to resume verifications, results can take anywhere from one to three days. However, delays can occur if a past employer doesn’t respond to a request in a timely matter. It is also not uncommon for delays when verifying high school education during summer months or holidays when the schools are not appropriately staffed to respond to such requests.

Candidate Experience is Paramount

It is important to remember that even those who have nothing to hide get a bit anxious about this process, especially when delays occur, so it is important to be transparent. Remember, these are people you actually want to hire. It is in your best interest to make sure that they have a positive candidate experience.

Let them what you are looking for and the types of information that might concern you. Let them know that you have a process in place to ensure that the information you use is accurate and up to date. And, let know how long it generally takes to complete the process.

It is also worth noting that you can and should expect assistance from your background screening company. They should be communicating delays to you in a timely matter, letting you know the nature of the delay and when you can expect to see the results. If you suspect the delays are due to your provider, ask for complete logs which detail a timeline of all actions taken to complete the search.

There is one other thing that employers should keep in mind as they run a background check on a perspective employee. If there is something in the criminal background check or the credit check that prevents a perspective employee from receiving a job offer, the employer is legally obligated to notify them. The job seeker is then offered the opportunity to dispute it.

As mentioned above, reference checks, employment verification, education verification and social media can all also take time. It can also be difficult to get the job seekers’ references on the phone.

Background checks can be a cumbersome undertaking for any employer. That is why when they are done right and done thoroughly, they take time. They are, however, an essential part to any hiring process.

Nick Fishman
Follow Me

Nick Fishman

Nick Fishman is the co-founder of EmployeeScreenIQ, a leading, global employment background screening provider, and serves as the company’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. He pioneered the creation of EmployeeScreen University, the #1 educational resource on employment background checks for human resources, security and risk management professionals. A recognized industry expert, Nick is a frequent author, presenter and contributor to the news media. Nick is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio and Texas.
Nick Fishman
Follow Me
Tweet
Share
Email
Share