How Long Does a Background Check Take?


When you make the decision to use background checks on new hires or job applicants (which is a great choice!), one of the questions you may ask is, “How long will this take?” The hiring process can be long, depending on one’s standards, but it shouldn’t be painful or mysterious. A comprehensive check by a professional and reliable search firm should only take about 72 hours. However, there are many factors that go into this timeframe, namely staff cooperation and the filing systems of the records you need to access.

Think about it: thousands of local, regional, and state government records systems across the United States. Not surprisingly, few use the same technology in their filings and documentation preservation. Some use limited technology, still relying on handwritten notes, paper records, and burdensome filing systems. There is simply no standard to follow when doing a background check. That’s one reason a dependable and reputable vendor is essential when doing checks.

Court systems may cause delays in background checks.

Much of the information we seek is available through the court system. Court clerks and researchers are generally assigned to these tasks. A clerk-assisted search means we cannot physically go to a court and retrieve records -- they must be released to a screening company by the court clerk. Depending on the nature of the court and how busy it may be, this may sometimes cause a delay. Some courts will accept a rush fee for a quicker turnaround.

Researching court documents means we must rely on court personnel to help. The cooperativeness and competency of those assigned to research and access records are vital. Delays can be expected if phone calls are missed or key personnel are out of the office. Background screening companies like Risk Assessment Group stay vigilant and generally meet the three-day time frame with minimal issues.

How long does an International Background Search Take?

One source of delay that is relatively standard for the industry is when an international search occurs. These types of searches are essential for employers as information on resumes and applications is obviously harder to verify and can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks. Yet, it is critical for you and your company when hiring abroad. One challenge is the culture and climate of the country where records or references may lie. Does the country enjoy the many freedoms of places like the United States, or do they live under more restrictive governance? The latter can lead to delays of weeks when trying to access important information on people’s education, work, credit, and criminal records.

Standard Background Checks and Their Estimated Wait Times

How Long Does a DOT Verification Take?

On average, DOT verification results can take 7-10 business days. Keep in mind that DOT Employment Verifications are multi-faceted. In addition to verifying drug testing, driving records, safety history, and violation history through federal driver verification systems, the law also requires that past DOT employers respond to a direct request for drug and alcohol and driver safety history while employed there within 30 days of request. This step must be performed for all past DOT employers within three years.

How long do criminal background checks take?

Criminal database verifications are returned within 24 hours, including Federal, National, State, and Sex Offender. County-level criminal check turnaround time depends entirely on the court itself. There are so many circumstances that can hinder the county-level search process, such as changing laws or system errors. Our average time for county-level criminal background checks is 3 to 4 business days.

  • Date of Birth Identifiers
    • Many courts around the US are removing DOB identifiers from public records. This means that every page of every file must be reviewed before a discrepancy can be identified and reported. An increasing number of states are removing DOB information from case files, which can affect wait times for results.

How long do reference verification results take?

Many employers want to do reference checks to verify past employers, peers, and co-workers listed in their job applications. Having reference verifications in your background screening can let you know if they are telling the truth on their resume. These verifications can take anywhere from 2 – 4 business days.

How long do drug screening results take?

The results of drug screening tests can be affected by individual candidates and the tests they are taking. These tests must be scheduled in advance, so the time of the drug test can affect the date the results are returned. On average, drug screening test results can take 48 hours.

How long do identity verification results take?

Every background screening package should include base identity verification so that you know your applicants are who they say they are. Luckily, these identity verification results are instant.

How long do education verification results take?

Education verifications are essential for determining the honesty of your candidate. If you are hiring for positions in healthcare or education, you need to know that your candidates have the right educational background and credentials. You can expect these education verification results to take three to four business days.

How long do credit report results take?

Credit reports are a standard background check to screen your candidates. Credit report results are expected to return within 24 hours.

How long do performance verification results take?

Performance verifications include checks on professional license verification, health care credentialing, and driving records. These performance verification results can take anywhere from 3-4 business days.

We’ll do the hard part

The decision to use background searches in your hiring is a solid one. There are so many hiring matters that have the potential to affect your business negatively. Utilizing a responsible and dependable firm removes many of those potential issues.

We say it often because it rings true: employers have many burdens to overcome throughout the hiring process. Recognizing this and using the right tools – like background checks from a reputable, professional company- can help you identify those red flags as you look for your next hire.

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Risk Assessment Group’s high-tech customized solution is built and managed by professionals with decades of experience in the background screening industry. Get in contact with us today to get started with our customized solutions. 
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