How Long Does a Background Check Take?

Background checks are an essential part of the hiring process, but they can be tedious and take time. How long does a background check take normally?

You’ve requested a background check and now eagerly awaiting the results. Whether you’re applying for a new job or an employer seeking information on a potential hire, you might wonder, “How long does a background check take?”

What is a background check? It is a routine process of obtaining records on an individual. The most common records requested are usually criminal records, but depending on the type of work involved, the process may involve more and take much longer. It is important to remember that when applying for a background check, the length of the process can vary.

I requested a background check, so how long does a background check take?

Employee screening typically takes 1-5 days. This is the standard waiting time for a background check. However, the duration may vary based on various factors.


There are multiple companies and organizations that offer this screening services. If you’re an employer, the amount of time it takes for the process can depend on the reliability and thoroughness of the company you choose. Some have faster turnaround times than others, but fast doesn’t always mean accurate and thorough, so keep this in mind.


The industry you’re applying to can affect the duration of the background check. While most employers request a basic criminal record, additional information can be required, resulting in a longer turnaround time. Different companies have varying requirements and screening processes, so don’t be surprised if it takes longer than the usual five days. Some companies may also request driving records, credit checks, employee and education verification, as well as social media research. In certain industries, an additional security clearance may be necessary, which can significantly lengthen the verification process. Additional requests may involve sexual offender records, credit reports, and litigation history.

Why There May Be a Delay with Your Background Check

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It is possible that delays can occur when requesting records on an individual. When it comes to criminal history, a good route can be researching the counties where the candidate spent most of his or her life. If you decide to go this route, these investigations could take time, as there is no centralized database of every county in the United States.

Once the records are obtained from the courts, the background check companies must then verify that the records are accurate, legal and belong to the candidate. Depending on the company, this can also delay the process. If you want to verify the records yourself, check out the best background check services – they are quick, easy, and affordable.

Another delay that can occur is the employment verification and reference requests. When an employee is requesting a reference check from past employers, if the former employers don’t respond in a timely manner, this could add delays to the process. Also, international companies and companies that have since been shut down may be a bit more difficult to get ahold of. Difficulties with seasonal jobs may also occur. Typically, employee checks take up to three days.

Things to Remember

When requesting criminal records for an individual, certain situations may extend the process. If adverse information arises, organizations must legally verify its validity. The Fair Credit Report Act mandates employers to inform candidates of the reason for non-hire based on background check results. Candidates can dispute the decision.

All these requests, crucial to the hiring process, can be time-consuming. However, it is vital as it determines the candidate’s suitability for the position.