Background checks are an essential part of the job hiring process to eliminate the risk of hiring an inappropriate employee.
It is a kind of screening process that helps companies choose the best candidates for the job and protect their company against liability claims.
Hiring a new employee is a big investment for a company, and a background check lowers the chances of hiring a bad candidate by revealing all the details of the person while also mitigating the risk and protecting your company’s reputation.
If you are also a job applicant and wondering how long it takes for a background check to be completed, this article will help you know what to expect by giving insight into the average turnaround time of five basic checks.
What Does a Background Check Include?
A Background check typically involves inquiring about the authenticity of the personal information provided on the resume of the candidate, including.
- Identity verification
- Academic verification
- Past employment verification
- Professional certification
- Criminal record checks
- Driving license Check
- Medical history
- Credit Check
- Drug screening
- Use of social media
- Global Watch list checks
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Different Types of Background Checks & Their Duration
There is no straight answer to this question because each background check is different.
Typically, it takes between 3-5 business days, depending on the type, purpose, information requested, data sources, and legal requirements.
Take a look at the average turnaround times of the five most common types of background checks:
Employment Background Check
An employment BC can take between a few minutes to five business days and even longer, depending on the type of information the employer needs.
The employment background checks can include everything from a professional license certification to an annual criminal record check to medical history and civil court documents.
How to pass employment background check?
Criminal Background Check
This generally takes between 1-3 business days, depending on the manual search requirements.
The timeframe varies based on the country-level, state-level, and federal-level criminal searches and the database being searched.
If the employer needs to conduct international criminal history checks, it will add 2-3 more to the time frame.
Federal Background Check
This one typically takes between a few weeks to a few months.
The federal background usually involves searches across the federal courts for violations of federal criminal law such as federal tax evasion, identity theft, embezzlement, interstate trafficking, and crimes committed on federal property.
The turnaround time for the federal BC is the longest as it involves checking records from seven years back or longer, depending on state laws.
Fingerprint Background Check
A fingerprint BC involves cross-referencing an applicant’s prints with a database. This whole process may take weeks to get completed.
The process involves comparing your fingerprints with the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS).
When there is a successful match, they return the results returned within 3 days.
Gun Background Check
FBI or local state agency conducts these tests and the processing takes around 2-3 minutes through the National Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Gun checks are mandatory if you want to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. This is to ensure that you are not legally prohibited from carrying a gun.
Driving Records Check
The timing for driving records checks differs from state to state as the Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) of each state are different.
However, it might take 2-3 days for you to obtain a driving record check.
Credit History Check
In many cases, a credit history check can be accessed immediately. However, suppose a company wants to get this check for employment purposes.
In that case, they need to become an End User of “Consumer Credit Reports for Employment Purposes member by filling out an application form. And this process can take 14 days to finish.
These checks come under pre-employment checks and include education verification, job verification, references, and professional license verification.
In all, a verification check can take 2-3 days or even more if the verification involves contacting a department or person who is not available.
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Things That Might Cause a Delay in Your Background Check
Here are some possible reasons that can lead to delays in obtaining a background check report:
- Closures: During Covid-19, schools and colleges were closed as such, and verifying information became really difficult. In such unexpected closures situations, obtaining background check reports may take time.
- Weekends: Again, schools, colleges, and courthouses mostly remain closed on weekends. So if you conduct a background check close to the weekend, then it may increase the total screening time.
- International Checks: International checks call for verification from other countries which might take time as compared to domestic background checks.
- Multiple residences: If the candidate has lived in a lot of places, then verifying information can take time due to this.
- Confusion with names: As silly as this may sound. Sometimes similar names can cause confusion and delays. You should provide more information about yourself, including all known names, points of contact, etc.
- Lineup of multiple checks: Delays in background checks can also be caused because of multiple lineups. An employer might run your background check along with others, leading to delay.
So different types of background checks and different information on them might take variable time.
By the end of this article, we hope you have gained an insight into how long does a background check take and everything else that you should know about the same.
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People Also Ask For
Why haven't I received my background check report?
You might have requested an international background check or must have done it right before the weekend or national holiday.
Office closing hours, multi-step processes, etc., might also cause a delay.
How to know if I have passed my background check?
As per the FCRA rules and regulations, employers are supposed to notify and get the candidate’s consent before running a background check on them.
They are also supposed to share a copy of the background check report and share the reason with them if they are disqualified because of it.
What can cause a red flag on a background check?
Red flags on a background check includes:
- Criminal history
- Incorrect information
- Poor credit history
- Poor driving records
- Wrong personal information
- Failing drug tests
- Bankruptcy, etc.
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.
The US Workforce has a policy of producing high-quality content that follows industry standards by using primary sources, such as white papers and government data, alongside original reporting from reputable publishers. We also follow an editorial style where appropriate information about the topic can be found with due credit given when applicable.