How Long Does a Background Check Take?

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Background Check

The pre-employment screening process can be time-consuming, especially if there are numerous applicants.

As such, you may be tempted to choose a provider based solely on their promised turnaround time. There are some background check websites that claim to generate reports within an hour. However, it is important to avoid falling for this scam – it is simply not possible to run in-depth employment and criminal history checks in an hour. 

Furthermore, various companies offer different check timelines, scope, and prices. The specific screening elements are very diverse, which is one reason why durations vary so extensively. Generally, a background check takes a few business days to complete and longer if there are complications. Moreover, some important background check components can take more than a week. 

Employment Verification

This is a very important element of the background check, which can be complex and require some time to be completed. This is because the screener must contact the people responsible for recruitment at the person’s previous workplaces. The more organizations they’ve worked for, the longer it will take. It’s even more complex when someone has been self-employed or has worked abroad. What’s more, not every organization will agree to share the relevant employment information.  

Identity Check

This is the most basic type of background check. It can be performed quickly, taking two days at most to complete. The time required to carry out an identity check depends on the type of check requested – of a passport, ID card, driver’s license, or a Social Security number. Furthermore, SSN traces are also quick, but they cost a bit more. They include verification of the state and year the number was issued, as well as of the person’s address history and full name, and finding evidence that the particular SSN truly belongs to them. This is done to reveal fake identities, which are more common than you may think.  

Finding a Criminal Record 

In the US, criminal history screening normally takes up to two days. However, holidays and understaffed courts will extend this timeframe. If the subject of your search has lived abroad, it can even take up to a whole month to check their criminal record. Moreover, procedures vary from country to country. They might require some in-depth research if the company doing the check gets more than one match or needs to check records manually. In every event, criminal history screening abroad shouldn’t take more than three weeks to complete. 

Financial History

Credit checks are relatively quick, taking up to two days to complete. They allow employers to see their candidates’ credit history. However, employers do not see their credit scores. 

Education Verification

Typically, education verification takes a few days. However, it can take longer in the summer and during holidays because colleges are understaffed. Confirming academic qualifications, certificates, and degrees involves extensive contact with colleges and schools, which requires some time and effort. Then, you might have candidates who’ve studied abroad. International academic records will take a few extra days to verify as well.  

Professional Qualifications and Driving History 

Professional qualifications can include any permits, licenses, and trade organization memberships. It usually takes two business days to verify these. The time it takes to search driving records depends on the state, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. 

Final Thoughts 

Both job candidates and employers suffer from misconceptions about background checks. These can lead to hiring or application errors. Background screening is quicker and more affordable than it may seem. It can be a challenge to hire a new staff member, while the background check also adds some time and effort to this task, but these temporary hurdles are worth getting past. Screening has become critical in terms of providing safety and security for employers. You need to be sure you have the right person for the job. Furthermore, establishing they won’t be a hazard to the workplace is equally important. 

Robert Malcolm

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