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How Long Does A Background Check Take?

When it’s time to hire new employees, an important task you don’t want to skip is to run a background check. A background check helps ensure that the person you’re hiring is the right choice. You don’t just learn about their criminal history, but also their work history, how they behave on social media, and more.


There are different background checks, and each one will have a different time frame. Read on to find out what kind of background checks you can use for your employees.


What Does a Background Check Include?

An employment background check can take up to five days to complete. These types of background checks can consist of a variety of information to help you get a well-rounded opinion of your potential employee. You can expect information about:


  • Criminal record
  • Work history and education
  • Drug screening
  • Credit history
  • Driving record
  • Social media history
  • Medical history


Some companies prefer to do this extensive search in-house, but it can be time-consuming as there is no central database for all this information. You’ll have to do multiple searches to get the answers you need. For some categories, like education verification, you could run into some complications if the school does not have their files digitized yet. This reason is why a lot of companies prefer to let a professional service do the leg work for them.


Instant Background Checks

Some people use instant background checks due to the low cost and immediate results. It is acceptable to use an instant background check; however, it should not be the only check you run on prospective candidates. You can get results from an instant background check within minutes; however, the details will be incomplete and frequently, incorrect.


There are a few flaws with using instant background checks. It will provide you with the most basic information, which can be found by searching through multiple online databases. However, these types of background checks frequently return results for the same name but wrong person. Another problem is that there are some types of information you can only get through approved access, such as driving records or state criminal records.


Using an instant background check will:


  • Verify social security number
  • Search the National Criminal Database
  • Run name against sex offender registry


Criminal Record Background Check

A criminal background check, which is one of the top background checks to request, typically takes between 1 and 3 days to complete. The last thing you want is to take a candidate’s word that they’ve never been in trouble with the law and have it come back to bite you in the butt. By verifying their records, you’re ensuring the safety of your reputation, workers, and customers.


This step is especially crucial if you work near a school or playground, or your employees will have access to high-risk victims like children. These are off-limits to people on sex offender lists.


Running a criminal record check will provide you with records going back as far as seven years. The candidate’s name is run through the National Criminal Database, federal, state, and county criminal court records, sex offender registries, and domestic and global terrorist watch lists.


You’ll learn about any:

  • Pending charges
  • Misdemeanor convictions
  • Felonies
  • Acquitted charges
  • Dismissed charges


If you conduct a criminal background check on your own, you will have to do separate searches for the county, state, and federal databases. Federal background checks will take one day and searches 94 federal courts for violations of federal law such as:

  • Federal tax evasion
  • Mail fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Identity theft
  • Interstate trafficking
  • Crimes committed on federal property


Employment History Verification

When hiring a new employee, check their work history to ensure they were honest about the positions they’ve held and the responsibilities they had. You wouldn’t want to hire someone to handle a million-dollar account, only to realize too late that they have no idea what they are doing. The turnaround time for this time of background check can vary depending on how easy it is to confirm a candidate’s previous work history.


When you do an employment history check, you’ll find out important details about their previous work experience, such as:

  • Job start/end dates
  • Positions/title
  • Salary
  • Responsibilities
  • Certifications they received while employed
  • Reason for leaving


Education Verification

Not everyone will care about verifying a prospect’s education. This factor is more important when a candidate claims to have graduated from a specific school with a degree that is needed to fulfill the open position. There is a difference between attending a school and completing their degree at that school.


If you’re trying to fill a position that doesn’t require specialized education, then it’s up to you whether you would want to run this type of background. It can help you figure out if the candidate is trustworthy and honest, so that is a bonus. However, not all schools have digitized records, especially if the attending years are some time back. Don’t be shocked if it takes a few weeks for these results to get back to you.


Reference Check

A critical check you do want to complete is a reference check. This type of background check provides information like work ethic, how they get along with other employees, and how well they can fulfill their job responsibilities.


When doing a reference check, it’s important to use open-ended questions, in a friendly manner. Let the person provide their information without leading the conversation. Direct the topic to one you prefer and take notes on the responses. This task can vary in how long it takes. But, it can typically be completed within a week as long as the references’ contact info is up to date, and they are easy to reach.


Take Time to Verify Candidates' Information

You could be in a rush to fill a role in your company, but you want to be diligent in how you do this. You may have to wait a week or two before you have all the background checks completed. But this can save you money in the long run by making sure the employee you pick is the best fit for your company.


Focus on the background checks that are most important if you want to hire someone as quickly as possible. You will get peace of mind that you’ve made the right choice while being a bit speedier than running background checks that you don’t need.