Setting Expectations Around Turnaround Time

“How long will the background check take?”

It’s a question that comes up often during the background screening process. And with good reason: when a candidate’s employment hinges on the results of a pre-employment background check, they want the assurance that everything comes back clear – even if they don’t have a particular reason to be worried. It’s a concern employers can share, as well. After all, if one candidate’s background check results are taking longer than anticipated, it’s natural to wonder why – and to start assuming the worst.

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The Average Turnaround Time

The average pre-employment background check will take approximately two to four business days to complete. Although some providers promise faster turnaround times, it’s important to remember that speed isn’t the primary consideration here: accuracy is. By giving your provider enough time to thoroughly dig into a candidate’s background, and verify the results, you’ll have the information needed to make the most educated hiring decisions for your company.

Common Reasons for Delays

From a county criminal records check to employer verifications, a single pre-employment screening can involve a high level of investigative research and physical testing requirements. It also comes with a number of regulations that are designed to protect the rights and privacy of the applicant.

This process is important to keep in mind, as it can affect the length of time a specific search or test takes to complete. Whether it’s a backlog at a county clerk’s office or an inability to reach past employers, there are a number of potential issues along the way that may not be indicators of existing records about the consumer or issues with the check itself.

Here are some common reasons your results may be delayed:

  • There are over 3,000 county jurisdictions, thousands of rulings and dispositions and no common standard for how information is stored and retrieved from one jurisdiction to the next. Although the average turnaround time nationwide for county criminal records is about 30 hours, delays can result when records need to be retrieved from multiple counties, each with a different record access process in place.
  • Some examples of court based delays include clarification when there are multiple people with the same name, a pending disposition or records that cannot be readily verified by the court.
  • State repository searches often require the clerk’s direct assistance, for example, to verify consents before records are released. If there’s a backlog, there could be a 6-8 week delay in accessing the needed information.
  • Drug test results may be delayed by regulation mandated time limits for contacting donors in the case of prescription medication verifications. In addition, mistakes on chain of custody forms can require additional documentation from collection sites and may cause further delay.
  • When you need to speak with a school or employer directly to verify information, delays can result if a release form is missing, the institution is closed, or the verifier is unavailable.

Rather than stressing about how long your background checks will take, it’s better to work with a background screening company that will proactively reach out when delays are anticipated. By keeping you informed throughout the process, you can set expectations with the hiring manager and candidate to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.

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From a county criminal records check to employer verifications, a single pre-employment background check can involve a high level of investigative research and physical testing requirements. It also comes with a number of regulations that are designed to protect the rights and privacy of the applicant.

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