How Long Does A Background Check Take?

Recruiters and candidates often want to know how long does a background check take. Well, the process timeline is varied, but here’s a general guideline. Ask any background check expert, what is the most common question you get asked, and the answer will be- how long does a background check take.

It even makes some experts squirm because there’s no definite answer. The duration of a quality background check varies depending on the needs of employers. You can blame the wide variation in the elements that make up these background checks.

You can, however, expect a background check to be complete in three to five business days provided there are no complications, not to mention barring any unforeseen circumstances.

But this is in no way a generalization of the timeline of every background check as some background check aspects can take longer depending on individual circumstances.

If you are wondering what aspects can delay a background check, here are some typical circumstances experts quote to impact the timing.

Identity check

For some employers, a simple Security Number Scan/Trace is enough identity check. In such circumstances, the verification process is almost instant, but when a deeper identity check is asked from screening providers, the process can take up to 2 days. Thorough identity checks can include driver’s license and/or passport details, verification of national ID card (depending on the nationality of candidate), history of addresses and more.

Credit check

Credit check mostly takes 24 to 48 hours to complete, but if there are some other processes involved like Workers’ Compensation History check, then it can take longer.

Employment verification

Experts say this is quite a complicated process. Depending on the needs of the position some processes involved can entail contacting HR departments at past employers, in the case of self-employment it may require the cooperation of the candidate. Some employers have a policy of not sharing candidate information with a signed release form, and it can add some extra hours to the entire process.

Academic/educational verification

Verifying educational credits take 2 to 3 business days. Verification process entails contacting schools and universities, and during summers and holidays, schools are usually understaffed, and it can take longer. If there are international class listings in the candidate’s record, then background check gets extended by a couple of days. While most institutions verify the name and degree details, some might require a written release form from the candidate before sharing any information.

Professional qualification verification

You have to agree that professional qualification documents are widely diverse from candidate to candidate. The documents may include simple certifications to not-so-simple organization memberships and licensure. This causes a variation in background check timeline.

Criminal checks

Again the timeline of criminal checks varies depending on the location where the check is being carried out. For instance, in the United States, it takes about 2 business days to complete criminal searches. But if the candidate has a history outside the United States, then criminal checks can take anywhere between a week to 30 business days. It is dependent on the authorities involved and the methods they use to verify the records. Generally, a detailed criminal check including County Criminal Records Checks, Federal Criminal Records Check, Nationwide and Statewide Criminal Records Check, National Wants & Warrants, Global Homeland Security Search and Sex Offender Registry Check can take anywhere between 10 to 20 days.

Motor vehicle records

Motor vehicle records are stored and managed by the states. A motor vehicle record check duration significantly varies depending on what state screening provider is searching. It can take anywhere between a couple of days to a few weeks depending on states.

Can You As An Employer Do Something To Speed Up Background Check?

There are certain aspects of background checks that are not in control of an employer or employee. But there are a few steps you can take to streamline the background check process.

Keep candidate’s relevant information organized

It’s a huge help for screening services when complete information of the candidate is available. It makes the verification process smoother and assist in avoiding any unnecessary inaccuracies.

Be honest with the facts

As an employer, you should tell the truth upfront. It is mandatory as per the Fair Credit Reporting Act, for background check services to verify every fact and figure before including it in the report. For this quality assurance, the candidate is provided with the opportunity to dispute any inaccurate or misleading information found. If employers don’t provide the right information, then this process can take longer.

Instructing candidates to cooperate with the screening provider will help as well. As in the case, there is any unresponsive source information like a former employee or an institution, and it will be easier to sort the issue if candidates facilitate the investigation.

The general guidelines we provided here is to help both candidates and recruiters to get the idea of how long does a background check take. However, the actual timeline is dependent on the individual services that compromise the background check process and can vary significantly.

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