If you have recently appeared for a pre-employment background check, and it has been days since you heard back, you might be wondering “How long does a background check take for a job?”
Well, the answer to this is not that easy! There is a lot involved in background check and a lot of information that needs verification.
But do not worry! In this guide, we have answered all the questions that you may have regarding employment background check. So make sure you read till the end, and thank us later!
What Does An Employment Background Check Include?
A background check for employment helps verify the authenticity of the information provided by the candidate in their resume.
A background check for employment may disclose the following information:
The most basic thing that a background check for employment will reveal is your true academic qualification. This includes the degrees you have, the name of your university, the time of passing out, etc.
Many candidates lie about their education on their resume, but if you do not want to get disqualified based on something like this, then make sure you are being honest.
A background check will also reveal your employment history. This might include the name of the companies you have worked at, the duration of employment, etc.
Depending on how many jobs you have switched and in which countries you have worked, the information for this can take a few minutes to a few days to obtain.
Companies want to create a safe environment for their employees, which is why a criminal background check is a must during employment.
Thanks to background checks, employers can find out if a candidate has a criminal record under their name within a few minutes or days, depending on the type of crime registered under the candidate’s name.
For job roles that require handling money or financial matters, a company will look into your credit history and debt status.
A credit check will not reveal your credit score, but it will show if you have paid your dues on time and, if you have been bankrupt, etc.
This information is crucial for a company to understand if hiring you would put the company at financial risk.
A company will look into your driving records if the position you are applying for involves driving vehicles. Examples of the same include delivery jobs.
This is done to ensure that the candidate the company is hiring is responsible enough to drive vehicles without risking the company’s name.
Driving records can disclose any traffic violations that you have made, accidents you have been in, etc.
Many companies get a drug test done on the candidates to ensure a safe working atmosphere for other employees.
You might be disqualified from a job if your reports show that you intake illegal substances. So make sure you are clean of such things.
Why Do Employers Do Background Checks?
To put it simply, employers do background checks to ensure that the candidate who may potentially join their company is right for the job and fit for the company.
They don’t go into a background check expecting to find something; rather, they do it to confirm that the information provided by you is true.
So, even if you have a red flag in your profile, make sure you are being honest about it. This will at least ensure a slight chance of you getting hired; lying on your resume only leads to disqualification.
How Long Does A Background check Take For A Job?
Depending on the job role and company you are applying for, a background check for a job may take a few minutes to a few days.
For example, basic personal information can be obtained in a few minutes. Whereas it may take 2-3 days or even a week to verify a candidate’s criminal records, education records, etc.
Similarly, international background checks could take two to three weeks. Basically, the more comprehensive your background check is, the more time it will take.
Typical Duration of Pre-Employment Background Checks:
For general background check
The time frame for a typical background check lies between two and five business days. Different factors, such as the candidate’s employment history, level of automation used, type of information, job profile, etc., affect the duration of this.
Background checks in specific companies (Uber, Amazon, etc.)
The duration for a background check could also vary depending on different companies. For example, Amazon, Uber, Walmart, etc., take 2-5 days for a background check. The time frame is based on their advanced systems.
What Can Cause Delays in Background Check For a Job?
There are plenty of reasons that could cause a delay in background check for a job:
Inaccurate Or Erroneous Information
The most common reason that leads to delays in background checks for a job is providing inaccurate information.
If the employer finds any discrepancies in the information provided by you, then they may undertake a thorough investigation that will increase the duration.
Your background check can also get delayed if minor errors are found in the information provided by you, such as address, social security number, name, etc.
International Work Experience
If a candidate has international work experience, then the background check may be delayed.
This is because obtaining information overseas can be challenging, especially because of language barriers, different time zones, etc.
Problems With Authorization
Signing all release forms is mandatory by law. This means a candidate must get a release form from their previous employers or academic institutions.
Unfortunately, such matters are out of a candidate’s control, and delays from their end could lead to delays with background checks.
Multiple Jobs & Residence
If a candidate has done multiple jobs or has lived in multiple places, then verifying all that information could take time and can lead to a delay in background checks.
As silly as this may sound, confusion with names could also lead to delays in background checks.
Make sure you provide all your known names and aliases to reduce any chance of delay because of this.
What Happens After A Background Check For a Job Is Done?
Once your employer receives your background check report, they might take a few days to review it and get back to you. If everything goes right, you might get an offer letter in your email.
It might also be possible that your background check report has arrived, but your employer hasn’t had the time to review it. In that case, you can follow up with the employer to know the status of your application.
How Can You Dispute An Incorrect Background Check?
Errors can occur during a background check for a job, but for the candidate, this could cost them their job. The most common errors in background checks include:
- Incorrect criminal record
- Mistaken identity
- Outdated information
The FTC has guidelines that help protect the interest of the candidate applying for the job.
So, as per the FTC guidelines, the employer must provide a copy of the background check report to the candidate if they reject him/her based on it.
This will help the candidate to find out the reason for rejection, and if they find any inaccuracies in their report, they have the right to dispute it.
To dispute your background check report, you will need to go to the background check company’s website and file a dispute there.
The company will review your application, and if there are any inaccuracies, then they will fix it and send your background check report again. This whole process, however, could take a few days to a few weeks.
The Right Way To Prepare For a Background Check
Background checks are crucial for employers to hire the right candidate and are more common in the government industry, financial, or healthcare sector.
To ensure a job opportunity does not get out of your hands, here is how you can prepare for a background check:
Keep accurate records of your employment and education
Secure digital copies of your diplomas and degrees along with your previous employment records.
Also, keep the contact information of past references at hand to fill out the job application accurately. Create a digital filing system, maybe to keep all your records in place and for ease of access.
Clean up your social media profiles
Employers may even look at your social media profiles, including your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn profiles, etc.
If you do not want your employers to look at your social media profiles, then make sure you turn them private.
Even on social media platforms like LinkedIn, ensure you start posting content related to your field and put a professional headshot of you as your profile picture. All these little things will help give your employer a good impression.
If you know about certain information that may disqualify you from getting the job, then it is best to come clean. If a company specifically asks you about certain information, make sure you come clean.
Companies are more likely to hire a candidate who is honest about their history and still shows potential to work fairly for the company.
Background check for employment is a crucial step for a company to ensure they hire the right candidate and do not waste their resources.
A background check can reveal a plethora of information, and depending on the information obtained, the timings for the same could vary.
In this guide, we have given you a complete brief on how long this process can take.
We hope you found this guide on “How Long Does A Background Check Take For A Job?” useful.
Do background check for a job takes place before or after an interview?
This really depends on the employer. However, typically, a background check for a job may take place during the later steps of the interviewing process.
Why is my employment background check taking so long?
Sometimes a candidate may share a common name with another, or there might be very large number of applications that are given for background check. We have also shared other common reasons that could cause delay in employment background check, which you can check.
How to check if I have passed my background check?
As per the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), an employer must notify the candidate about the results of their background check. So you can expect the employer to reach out to you when your results are out, or you can follow up with them to after waiting for the given time frame.
Shefali Jain is a Content Writer & Editor at USWorkforce.org
After completing her graduation in hospitality, Shefali decided to follow her passion and started writing. Shefali has been writing for two years now and contributes to our website as a skilled editor and content writer with strong research skills. Writing product and service reviews, biographies, and book reviews are some of her key areas, among many others in which she specializes. In her time at the organization, she has written and edited content on a range of topics, including employment law, human resources, and business management.