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Is This Background Check Taking Too Long?

By Michael Klazema on 7/24/2018

As an employer, you must do your due diligence when hiring a new employee. That means running background checks on every new person you bring into your organization. Extremely long background check processes can cost you strong candidates or make it difficult to respond to urgent needs for extra employee support. How can you know if a background check is taking too long?

It’s important to recognize what “too long” means in the background check world. In most cases, background checks take between one and five days to process. At backgroundchecks.com, the estimated timeline on most of our checks is one to three days. We also have several instant background checks which use database searches to provide rapid results.

High-level delays can happen at many points in the background check process. For instance, when county criminal checks demand contacting the court in question and getting a court to pull the files manually, checks can take longer. Factors like local holidays, federal holidays, or inclement weather can all cause delays in reaching courts or pulling records.

Another factor for county court checks is how the specific court has configured its record searches. At some courts, you can perform a record search on a public terminal at the courthouse. In other counties, though, the process might still be manual, requiring someone to fill out a record search form, submit it to the court clerks, and wait for them to pull the records. These delays can add anywhere from a few extra minutes to a few extra days to the process.

There can also be delays in other areas, such as work history checks. Verifying employment history involves contacting a candidate’s former employers. If an employer does not respond to a request in a timely fashion, the check might take longer than anticipated. Other verifications (such as professional licenses, educational history, or references) may be delayed for the same reasons.

Throughout the process, remember that most candidates expect a background check process. While not all job-seekers appreciate being vetted, most understand why employers need to do it. If you feel your background check is taking too long, however, then your applicants probably feel similarly.

There are things you can do to expedite the hiring process. First, be as organized as possible with your background checks. When you make a job offer or initiate a background check, make sure you have FCRA-compliant disclosure and authorization forms prepared. Know exactly which background checks you are going to order (criminal historyeducation verificationreference check, etc.) and order them all at the same time to avoid delays. These steps will allow you to get the ball rolling sooner to speed the process along in small but significant ways.

Be strategic about the pre-background-check part of your hiring process. Think about extra steps like multiple interviews or skill tests and ask yourself if they are necessary for the job at hand. Perhaps most importantly, try to be faster in the decisions you make so you can move from one stage of the employment process (be it first interview to second interview or skills test to job offer) at a faster clip. Remember: your candidates are probably applying for other jobs, too. Being the first to make a job offer will give you a better chance of landing the best applicants.


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