As an employer or as a candidate who applies for a job, you would be curious to know how long does a background check take.
As an employer, you would need to fill the position on an urgent basis, which might force you to perform the background checks on priority.
However, as a candidate, you would be eager to know the status of the background checks and await the employer’s hiring decision.
In this blog, we shall focus on background checks, the significance of background checks, possible turnaround time, and everything to know about the processes to speed up background checks.
What is A Background Check?
Background checks involve the process that ensures a detailed combination of the professional and personal history of a candidate.
The recruiter analyzes all the details of the applicant, contacts the previous employers and checks the other sources to verify the eligibility.
This is one of the most significant parts of the hiring process thathelps to improve the hiring qualityof an organization.
At least 46% of credential and reference verifications reported a discrepancy between the data from applicants and the data obtained after post-screening.
For a hassle-free background check process, it is recommended to ensure that the candidate provides a detailed professional history during the application process.
How Long Does A Background Check Take For a Job?
Candidates should be aware of how long does pre employment background check take since it depends upon numerous factors.
A background check usually takes anywhere between 2 – 5 business days.
But, it might take 7 – 10 days if carried out without any software to support the automated background checks.
Almost 78% of the applicants lying on their resumes went unnoticed– this is only one among the various factors that induce a need for background checks.
The history of every individual is different and these factors could prolong the time frame.
Types of Background Checks With Turnaround Times:
A bad hire can cause numerous threats to an organization.
It adds to the cost of replacement if the new hire doesn’t work as expected.
It can also affect the employee morale and corporate culture, causing unhappiness among the other employees.
Nevertheless, when you make a bad hiring decision, it damages the brand reputation.
While it is challenging to evaluate the real cost of not committing due diligence during the hiring process, the organization needs to ensure that they hire a quality candidate through deep background checks.
Let’s understand the different types of background checks:
#1. Employment Background Checks:
This is the process that an employer takes to evaluate the authenticity of the information that candidate provides to the organization about the previous employment.
This background check is crucial for the roles that involve positions of trust and security implications such as financial institutions, healthcare, educational institutions, courts, etc.
It reveals the details like job start date, end date, job titles, salary, job responsibilities, the reason for termination, level of stability, and so on.
This can take anywhere between 2 – 5 business days to complete.
#2. Educational Background Checks:
An educational/academic background check verifies the academic details of a candidate, which includes the graduation date, dates of attendance, degree/diploma certificate, honors, etc.
It usually takes around 2 – 3 business days, but might take longer if these happen during summer vacation, or furthermore if school is located abroad.
#3. Professional Qualification Background Checks:
This checks whether the candidate has been a member of any trade organization along with their licensure and certificates.
The professional background checks may take almost 2 business days to complete.
#4. Criminal Background Checks:
This check verifies whether the candidate owns a criminal record.
It can include manual record checks or collaborationwith concerned authorities in various countries, or comprehensive research on whether multiple matches are detected.
CNBC says that Employee theft keeps rising in the US which costs US businesses almost 50 billion USD every year.
If you wonder how long does a background check take for criminal records, it could usually be 1 – 3 business days (excludes holidays and court staffing concerns).
However, for candidates with an international background, it can take up to 30 business days.
#5. Credit Background Checks:
A credit background check verifies the credit history of a candidate and checks how they have managed the consumer debt.
This includes a search of the credit bureau records.
It takes about 1 – 2 business days to complete.
#6. Motor Vehicle Record Checks:
Motor Vehicle Record Checks or MVR checks can evaluate the vehicular track record of a candidate.
It includes license class, driving history, restrictions, endorsements, expirations and suspensions.
This check may take from a few days to certain weeks to complete.
#7. Global Watch List Checks:
The database that includes various lists across the works that organizations use to carry out identity checks to detect frauds, money launderers, terrorists, PEPs, etc. is known as the Global Watch List.
This contains the law enforcement, government, international, domestic and regulatory databases with information on criminal lists/people restricted from some industries.
This check may take 1 – 2 business days to complete.
#8. Identity Check:
This involves the evaluation of details on the passport, license or any kind of national ID card (if it exists).
For instance, if the employers choose to do an SSN verification (Social Security Number), they do a thorough check to verify the identity of the candidate.
It can be completed instantly, but might extend to a maximum of 3 – 4 hours.
#9. Drug Test:
Drug use at work can make the workplace uncomfortable for other employees, reduce productivity, and cause workplace accidents.
With a drug test, your organization can avoid such bad hires and make the organization safe.
It minimizes employee absenteeism, enhances productivity, and avoids conflicts at the workplace.
Usually, you receive the drug test results in 2 – 3 business days.
#10. SSN Verification:
SSN verification is significant in background checks since it supports identification, evaluation of address history and helps to verifiy the personal information of a candidate.
It helps to retrieve the data such as first name and last name associated with the SSN, date of birth of the candidate, and checks if SSN is flagged for alias names, identity theft, or being inactive.
SSN Verification can help businesses to analyze the inconsistencies in personal information that the candidate provides.
This verification generally takes 2 – 4 hours to complete.
#11. Public Trust & Security Clearance:
Public trust and security clearance involves the investigation of a person who holds the position of public safety— this could be law, enforcement, managerial roles, policy-making, or anything that affects public trust.
This check is necessary since a public trust position could cause physical or financial harm to the organization or public if the powers are misused.
The process involves a detailed analysis of the candidate’s employment, education, personal information, residence, and other related details.
Since it involves the evaluation of high-risk roles, it takes a few weeks to months for processing the results.
Why Do Background Checks Take So Long?
Now that you know how long does a background check take, what are the possible reasons for this delay in background checks?
Let’s explore them in detail:
- Incomplete or inaccurate check request forms or the employer is unable to find necessary authorization forms that job applicants must sign. These are laid downby Federal law, and without consent, they can’t be carried forward.
- Every county court report is not digitized completely. So, if the court runner manually searches them, it can take 3-30 days to finish the manual search.
- If the applicant has resided in another country for work or school, then an international background check is essential which can take 4-5 days based on the complexity of the check. Also, in certain countries that have stringent privacy protection laws, it can take about 20 days to finish.
- Name variations or aliases like for example John, Johnnie, Johny — this can cause delays and need a manual check to confirm the identity. Using various names in the past can lead to delays in background checks.
- The background check sometimes needs searching many sources for the data the employer demands, and some databases, like schools or previous employers etc., might take time.
How to Trigger the Background Check Process:
There are certain things that employers can take care of to minimize the frequency of delays that occur during the background checks.
These are –
#1. Identification of The Right Screening Provider:
A perfect background screening provider can help you reduce the bottle-necks that would delay the hiring process.
When you prioritize the turnaround time, it is better to outsource this to a relevant service provider, so that it helps you with a faster hire.
#2. Utilization & Integration of ATS:
Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is the software for recruiters and employers to monitor the complete hiring process and the consecutive checks.
In huge organizations, hiring and recruiting is a continuous affair, with many candidate positions performed simultaneously.
With the right ATS software, you can ensure streamlined information management through proper integration with the background screening provider.
#3. Leveraging The Present Online System:
With an advanced background check software system, you can minimize the delays in the process.
When you deal with the paper forms, it not only delays the process but also makes it difficult to enter the information again into the system, which is a double process.
Going paperless can help employers save time on repetitive tasks.
#4. Using A Combination of Services:
When you have a single provider for every background check, it processes everything in one area rather than in multiple places.
It improves efficiencyand minimizes delays.
It is easy to speed up background checks with the right provider with a great turnaround time and integrated ATS to enhance the background checking process.
Here is a common question that candidates usually ask:
How Do I know if I Passed my Background Check?
Well, once the background verification is done, they either email or call the candidates to reveal their status.
Sometimes, they don’t send any notifications for background checks in specific but move ahead with an offer letter.
We hope this blog has given you a brief idea of how long does a background check take.
Despite the norms on the time-consuming behavior of background checks, the right provider can help you cut down the time required to complete the whole process.
But even when there is a lag, all you need to do is to discuss this with the provider who can assist you with the rest.
When you require an international search or the checks involve multistep processes, the turnaround times can turn longer than expected.
For every service, there is a difference in time – Hence as long as you keep focus on the areas where delays can occur and plan appropriately, you can prevent these delays to a great extent.
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