How Long Do Background Checks Take?

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Getting someone’s complete background in a matter of seconds is pure Hollywood fiction.

The reality is that it’ll usually take several days to complete a background check.

Here’s why.

Let’s say you want to check a candidate’s criminal history.

You may want to consider searching courts in jurisdictions in which the candidate has lived, worked or gone to school.

There are more than 3,200 jurisdictions in the United States where public records can be obtained.

And the manner in which these records can be accessed may vary from court to court.

While some courts may make their records available for online searches, approximately 30% of US courthouses require in-person direct access.

So background check companies, such as HireRight who performs real-time criminal records searches, maintain a network of court runners to facilitate in-person courthouse record searches in these jurisdictions.

As you can imagine, conducting such in-person searches takes time.

Tic tic tic. It adds up.

OK, so now your background check provider has conducted the real-time criminal records searches you’ve requested.

At this point, they need to reasonably review any information obtained from the courts prior to reporting that information to you.

Your background check partner should help make sure that the information belongs to your candidate and is otherwise legally reportable in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (the “FCRA”), applicable state laws, and search depth.

If you also want to verify the candidate’s professional references, education, and previous employment, then other search dependencies may well come into play.

For example, if a previous employer, school, or reference doesn’t respond in a timely manner or worse, is no longer in business, then the background check may be delayed.

A thorough, accurate background check is critical consideration for many employers when bringing someone onboard.

To help expedite the background check process and achieve a faster time-to-hire, you may want to advise candidates to have W-2s from previous employers and records from schools they attended available in case they’re requested; the faster they can provide them, the quicker the turnaround time can be.

Candidates may also want to contact people they used as references and request they respond to a reference check quickly.

Stay in touch with your candidates and let them know where they are in the process.

While the speed and turnaround time of the screening process often is a priority for the prospective employer, the candidate, and HireRight alike, in the end – and to all involved – it’s the accuracy of the information that’s paramount.


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