Slow Turnaround time for a Background Check? What gives?

3 min read
Fri, May 26, 2017

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When a hiring manager is anxiously waiting results of a background check, it can feel like forever. If you've already decided that the candidate is perfect, it can seem especially frustrating. Hiring managers are nervous about missing out on high quality candidate and understand the necessity of perfect timing during the hiring process. Should you offer the job or run a background check first? Either way, a background check seems like necessary evil.

When you're ready to secure the future of a job candidate, why does a background check take so long?

Running Background Checks: What Could Go Wrong?

While it seems like it could be the screening company that's holding up the background check, the time delay may begin early in the hiring process. Here are the most common reasons background checks take longer to process:

  • Hiring manager requests ALL the background checks. - Without an idea of what's included in a basic background check or which background checks are required for certain jobs, a hiring manager may simply request all screens. Obviously, with so many potential background checks to run, running them all on every employee is going to take longer than needed.
  • Delays in employment verification - Employment verification comes with its own limitations. If the previous employer is unresponsive or cannot be reached, or if the previous employer was an enterprise corporation, the background check could be held up. With larger enterprises, employment verification may also cost more since the screening company has to use a particular employment verification database to obtain the information.
  • Applicant information is incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete - There are many data entry errors that can cause a slow turnaround including incomplete information, if the applicant has a gender neutral name and/or the gender is unclear on the employee application, or if other identifying information is missing.
  • The applicant hasn't given consent - If the applicant hasn't given consent to a background check, the screening vendor may send back the request to run a background check. 

Free: Online Applicant Consent Portal

How Long do Background Checks Usually Take?

Hiring managers want thorough screens but turnaround time is still important. As a general rule, it's good to have a basic expectation on how long certain screens usually take. Here's what hiring managers need to know before requesting a background check:

  • Instant background checks are:
    • Identity Verification
    • Credit History
    • MVR Driver License records
  • Other database searches that may be instant include:
    • Criminal
    • Sex Offender
    • Government Sanction Lists (example: known terrorists)
  • These screens typically take 1 business day:
    • County Criminal Court Search
    • Federal District Court Search
    • Professional License Verification
    • Education Verification
    • Employment Verification 
  • These typically take 3 - 5 days:
    • Statewide Criminal Search
    • Drug Testing

Cost of a Background Check:  How Much Should You Pay?

Save Time and Money: Do This Instead

If you're looking for a quick turnaround for your background checks, here are some suggestions to avoid lag time and save money too:

  • Create a background screening policy - A screening policy will include information on when to run a background check and which screens are required for the positions being hired. 
  • Run basic background check first - Start with running a basic screening for potential candidates and then request further screening as they proceed through the hiring process. 
  • Provide as much information on the candidate as possible - Make sure the information is correct and legible (or entered correctly in an online applicant portal).
  • Request customized screening or volume discounts from background check vendor - Your screening partner should work with you to minimize cost and save time during the background check process, offer customizable screening options or discounts if requesting high volumes of screens..
  • Ask how your background check provider processes screenings and communicates - VeriFirst takes a tiered approach, processing and reporting on Instant Searches first. We also expedite those requiring additional research and send status updates regularly.
  • Ask if your background check vendor is trained on FCRA compliance - If so, they will help with the background screening process and offer guidance on obtaining applicant consent and authorization to a background check. Overall, this saves time and money by keeping the employer out of a courtroom.

Thorough background checks don't have to take forever with some forethought and planning. If you need help with your background screening policy or want to discuss quick turnaround options for background checks, give us a call.  We've been working with employers for over a decade and our FCRA-certified staff is here to help.

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