Last updated: March 27, 2023
Choosing the right candidate for a position can be a daunting task in today’s job market. It seems as if everyone is hiring. You can’t waste any time because if an applicant is offered a position before you’ve had a chance to complete your talent search, you could lose out. Looking over your process and making small changes here and there could save time and benefit your company. That said, how long do background checks take?
The short answer is that it depends.
Actually, the term “background check” is a bit misleading. It can imply that all necessary information is obtained in one place. Many employers perform background checks as part of their talent search or even the onboarding process—with the understanding that continued employment is contingent on the result. However, not all background searches contain the same information. And, depending on how they are performed, the amount of time that it takes to complete them varies. That’s because employers must reach out to different sources.
We’ll break down some turnaround times for you.
Where are you getting your information?
If you are verifying information on former employment or looking at whether or not an applicant has met education requirements, reaching out directly to the employer or school puts the ball in their court. Sometimes that means getting pushed back in their workflow and your wait time can be indefinite.
Sending cordial inquiries periodically can go a long way in speeding up that process though.
If you’re looking at driving records, the typical response time is between one and three days. Criminal record checks vary. Normally, though, a local response can take a few days or possibly weeks depending on the number of inquiries the local entity receives on a daily basis.
However, if your criminal background check involves a more extensive search, as in state-to-state or internationally, the wait time increases accordingly.
Checking someone’s credit history can point toward their willingness to act responsibly in regard to finances. That can tell a lot about a person. There is good news to report on this front. Credit reports can be obtained instantly in most cases. Identity checks using a social security number nearly always obtain instantaneous results as well.
Employers who are seeking candidates who are reliable, trustworthy, and of sound moral character perform more extensive background searches. Therefore, they normally take at least a few weeks to complete.
Do you perform a lot of background checks?
If your company is investing the time to do your own background research, you might want to consider choosing a company that specializes in obtaining the information that you’re seeking. As far as former employment and education verification, when institutions receive an information request, they’re apt to respond more quickly to a company they have worked with in the past.
There are many companies, like ours, for instance, that partner with employers to handle this aspect of the talent search or onboarding process. It allows your human resources (HR) department to stay focused on other aspects of matching the most worthy candidate with your open position.