Hiring new employees is an exciting time for any business. After posting a job opening, reviewing resumes, and conducting interviews, you finally have a candidate that you’re ready to hire. But before you can hire someone, most employers require a background check.
While some businesses may be able to complete a background check in-house, most will need to hire a third-party company to conduct the screening. So, how long does a background check take for a job?
The answer depends on several factors, such as the kind of background check being performed and the state where the candidate lives.
Read on for a closer look at the different types of background checks and how long each takes to complete.
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How Long Does a Background Check Take for a Job?
A background check takes anywhere from a minute to up to five days max, based on the type of data an employer needs to verify.
The most basic checks, like verifying employment history or checking someone’s criminal record, can be done quickly and easily.
However, manual searches or more in-depth checks, like checking professional licensing approvals, universities, or military records, can take much longer.
Background checks usually include a compilation of the most important aspects of someone’s life, including:
- Employment history
- Criminal record
- Credit history
- Professional licenses and certifications
The type of background check an employer chooses will depend on the job position and the company’s policies.
For example, a bank may require a more thorough check for a loan officer position than for a teller position.
Here’s a look at the different types of background checks and how long each one takes to complete:
- Social Security Number Trace: 1-5 Minutes
This is the most common background check and is often used as the first step in screening candidates.
A social security number trace simply verifies that the social security number provided by the candidate belongs to them.
This type of check is quick and easy and can be completed in just a few minutes unless the candidate does not have a social security number. In that case, the process may take a bit longer.
- Criminal Record Check: 1-14 Days
A criminal record check is among the most important types of background checks for employers. This check will reveal any past convictions or pending charges that the candidate may have.
Criminal record checks can be done through the county, state, and federal courthouses, as well as through private companies. The process usually takes one to three days, but in some cases, it can take up to two weeks.
- Education History Check: 1-2 Days
An education history check verifies that the candidates went to the schools they say they did and received the degrees or certificates they claim to have.
This type of check is relatively quick and easy to do. Most employers can verify education history with a simple phone call or online search.
However, some employers may require additional documentation, like transcripts or diplomas, which can take a few days to obtain.
- Employment History Check: 1-3 Days
An employment history check is another important type of background check. This check will verify the candidate’s stated employment history and verify that they are who they say they are.
Employment history checks can be done through the candidate’s past employers.
The process usually takes one to three days but can take longer if the candidate has worked for many companies.
- Credit History Check: 1-5 Days
A credit history check is often used to screen candidates for positions that involve handling money or sensitive information.
This check will reveal any past financial problems that the candidate may have, like bankruptcies or foreclosures.
Credit history checks can be done through the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
The process usually takes 1-5 days to complete but may take longer if the candidate has a complex financial history.
Are Background Check Delays Possible?
Like any process that involves human beings, background checks are not always 100% accurate or timely.
In most cases, a delay in conducting a background check can be attributed to the following factors:
- Lack of paper trail
- International employment
- Inaccurate or outdated information
- Outstanding warrants
- Complex financial history
So, how long does a background check take for a job? The answer is that it depends on the type of check being conducted and the specific circumstances of the candidate.
In most cases, a basic employment background check can be completed within a few days. However, more complex checks can take up to two weeks or longer.
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Amit is a young entrepreneur who specializes in background checks. After completing his high school certification, Amit spent half a decade trying different background check services. He has worked for several background screening firms and gained valuable industry experience.
Amit is the founder of BestBackgroundCheckSite.com, where he helps all its users navigate complicated decisions about their personal lives and careers.