How Long Do Background Checks Take? Everything Explained

When an employer asks for your permission to do a background check on your profile, it means they have shortlisted you as a potential employee. 

Companies consider background checks necessary because when the organization appoints someone, they need to make sure that the person does not have any criminal activities on record and everything mentioned in the resume are true. Undoubtedly hiring someone in a responsible position and giving access to certain assets can be a risk.

So you have just completed the interview process and the company has put you on hold for a background check. Now you are not aware of how much time it will take to complete this background check process.

Here in this article, we will give you a complete view of how long does a background check take.

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

A background check takes two to three business days under perfect conditions. However, sometimes it can take 14 days or more on the basis of search scopes. 

Delays in the background check process can have direct impacts on the talent acquisition procedure, like:

  • The employers have to sort through a plethora of resumes in order to set up interviews with them.
  • On-boarding and training sessions will get delayed if the hiring process slows down.
  • Delayed background checks can even make a bad impression on potential employees about their employers. In such cases, the employers have to handle the candidates and manage their expectations. 

There can be different reasons for delays in background checks. So, the employer and employee both have to prepare their schedules by keeping that in the mind.

Average Time To Complete Background Checks

The general background check takes three days to one week. However, if there are some incomplete or inaccurate databases, then some instant background checks occur.

However, most of the time, the instant criminal records database contains plenty of errors. For example, an employment background check includes criminal record searches, civil court documents, resume details, license records etc. Therefore, the reputed agencies tell their employers to give them some more time in order to generate an accurate and full-proof report.

List of Background Checks Most Employers Use

Driving Record Background Check

Most employers often run a driving record background check to confirm if a new employee or the applicant has a safe driving history. Driving record check incorporates driving license status, traffic accidents, fines, traffic law violence etc.

Credit Score & History Checks

A credit background check is important to get full insight into an employee’s credit history. If a candidate is appointed in a financial position or dealing with confidential information, checking their credit scores helps avoid scams and fraud. The credit score and history show if there’re any debt or tax issues.

Court Records Search

A court records search is required to determine whether the prospective employee has any criminal record in the past. So, employers can avoid hiring any candidate for financial works to reduce the risk for theft and fraud.

Identity Verification

Identity verification is done to estimate if the applicant uses a stolen identity while applying for a job. Identity checks contain the name, address, date of birth and Social Security Number (SSN).

Criminal Records Check

Criminal records check is necessary to determine whether the prospective employee was involved in illegal or criminal activities. Criminal background checks are performed to evaluate if the candidate may be a threat to the clients or others.

Education Verification

Applicants may lie about their education degree when applying for a position. Therefore, most employers run an education verification to verify the authenticity of their educational institute and access proof of the education. By conducting a full screening, the companies can identify the applicants’ academic knowledge and their relevance to that role.

How to Speed Up the Background Checks Process?

Here’s how to speed up the background checks process to minimize delays:

  • Employers can speed up the process by providing the agencies with all the required documents without missing single information. 
  • Employers can set a time limit for report submission.
  • Employers can also choose an agency that puts the information available online. This helps to quicken up the process.  
  • Agencies can make the background check process faster by following up with drug-test clinics, schools and ex-employers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my background check taking longer?

If you haven’t got updates on your background check, here’re some common reasons why your background check takes longer:

1. The third-party background check agency is delaying the processing of the documents.
2. The employer has got your full background report but hasn’t taken a final decision about hiring.
3. You didn’t submit properly authorized documents and release forms.
4. Some of the information is not matched during background checks and therefore, the employer is taking time to verify the records.
5. The employer is performing background checks on multiple candidates simultaneously.

So, you may have cleared background verification, but now, the employer is looking at your other skills before hiring. Sometimes, they often contact you if any document like driving license, SSN etc., is missing. So, keep checking your email to avoid background checking queries.

How do I know if I passed the background check?

If you pass the background check, the employer will contact you via call or email to let you know that the background has been verified and cleared. Sometimes, you may receive a joining offer directly instead of the background check updates.

What causes a red flag on a background check?

Hiring a new employee is difficult and performing a background check on him/her is very complicated. Some factors often raise a red flag and the employers cannot hire that candidate.
Here are the reasons that cause a red flag on a background check:
1. Inconsistency in education or experience
2. Short-lived jobs
3. Suspicious criminal records
4. Disrespectful activities
5. Multiple gaps of unemployment or fake employment record
6. Failed drug test
7. Poor credit score
8. Negative feedbacks from ex-employees


Now you’ve understood that background checks are crucial while recruiting. It sometimes takes time to verify all the documents. So, keep patience before contacting the potential company to know about the background checks.

Though you can conduct the background search by yourself, it may not be convenient. It often leads to an incomplete report that can create problems for you. So, it’s better to hire a third-party agency or let the company do the background checks on you.

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