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How Long Does a Background Check Take?

How Long Does a Background Check Take?

A regular part of running a safe and secure business nowadays is performing a background check. Employers, landlords, banks, transportation companies, and numerous other organizations conduct routine screenings before signing contracts or doing business to protect themselves from individuals who may not be the person they appear to be. So if this is a standard part of day-to-day operations, you may wonder, "How long do background checks take"?

The short answer is it depends on what the organization is screening for. Several factors go into background checks, from the information requested, whether there are limitations on data sources, factoring in legal requirements, and a myriad of other aspects that might cause delays. Below is a short list of background checks covered:

  • Employment Background Check
  • Criminal Background Check
  • Universal Background Check
  • Fingerprint Background Check

To help you better understand the turnaround time for a background check, we at MicroBilt have compiled estimations of the turnaround times, potential problems, and what proactive steps businesses can take to reduce any of these possible delays.

How Long Does an Employment Background Check Take?

In today's world, choosing the right employee is crucial for any business. No company wants to hire an individual who's engaged in identity theft, lied about their work history, or provided false information about their education. It's also essential to avoid hiring those with a history of workplace misconduct, such as theft, violence, or other behaviors that can negatively affect a company's well-being. Below are some components an employment background check can include:

All these verification methods have their own benefits when determining qualifications and should be considered when measuring the quality of an employee. The more steps you take during the pre-employment background check, the less likely you'll hire individuals who make false claims or misrepresent themselves - as they may be more likely to commit fraud or other undesirable acts. 

The duration of an employment background check can vary from a few minutes to five days, depending on the nature of the information required. It may take longer if the process involves manual searches or responses from other institutions, such as universities or professional licensing organizations.

How Long Does a Criminal Background Check Take?

When employers, landlords, and other organizations consider someone for a position of trust, they often want to know if the individual has a criminal history. This is a necessary precaution as individuals with a history of fraud or violence may pose a risk to others, be it within a work environment, a residential complex, or any other setting. 

The average time for a criminal background check is one to three days, although it can be faster depending on the level of detail needed, thanks to quick database searches. MicroBilt provides eight criminal search products, including rapid and manual searches.

Rapid Search products

US Criminal Report: Searches multiple state files to return felonies, misdemeanors, traffic violations, sex offenses, and incarcerations.

Criminal State and National Search: Returns a compilation of records from multiple states to show if there are any criminal records.

Criminal Sex Offender Search: Specifically seeks out if an individual has any sex offenses with felony convictions.

US Sex Offender Report: Instantly searches national criminal records from all US states to return information on currently registered sex offenders.

Rap sheets Criminal Database Search: A highly comprehensive online criminal database search that seeks out records from courts, the Department of Corrections, and other law enforcement agencies.

Criminal Background Check

Manual Search Products

County Felony & Misdemeanor: A fully comprehensive county-wide search that goes back seven years to search felony and misdemeanors and all details associated with charges filed, final disposition, sentencing, and listed verifiers.

County Felony Search: A search of countywide records that conveniently includes misdemeanors.

Manual State Search: A manual search that goes back seven years to find information on both felonies and misdemeanors.

Many landlords, property managers, employers, lenders, and other businesses utilize MicroBilt’s Criminal Search products. Our process lets our clients know about any pending charges, convictions, acquittals, and dismissals which can help them make better decisions.

How Long Does a Universal Background Check Take?

A universal background check, also known as a "gun background check," is conducted by the U.S. Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI). This check processes in minutes through an electronic scan of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) or a phone call. By law, a universal check is required to obtain a gun permit. In situations unrelated to gun ownership, knowledge of the background check results can help determine whether a person is eligible to receive a gun license and identify any warning signs that may prevent them from doing so. This information can be valuable to employers, landlords, and other businesses.

How Long Does a Fingerprint Background Check Take?

Employers often use fingerprint background checks to verify a candidate's criminal history during the screening process. These checks are considered more reliable than other methods since an individual's fingerprints are all unique. The process typically involves taking ink-and-roll imprints or electronic fingerprints, also known as a live scan. 

It's important to note that fingerprints are not inherently criminal but can also be necessary for licensing requirements or other forms of state authorization, depending on local laws. Although many believe fingerprint checks are foolproof or only targeted toward criminals, these claims are false. Fingerprints have inherent weaknesses like any other method and should be used with other methods.   

Typically, a fingerprint background check takes around one to three days to obtain results in case a match is found. Usually, organizations that require a fingerprint background check opt for it together with other types of background checks, specifically for employment screening. This measure is an additional level of safety to confirm that there are no unwanted records during the check. If no fingerprint results return, the prints taken are sent to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) to include in the database.

What Can Cause a Delay in a Background Check?

Typically, comprehensive background checks can be completed within five days. However, there may be instances where the process takes longer than expected. Some delays are beyond the requesting businesses' control due to external factors, but many can be managed. Common reasons for delays in background checks include:

No authorization or incomplete forms submitted: One of the primary reasons for a delay in background checks is the absence of authorization or incomplete forms (this is also one of the most controllable). Since federal law requires background checks be signed with written consent, this will prevent an agency from conducting a search if they need to secure filled-out and signed consent forms.

Manual record check required: A manual record check is sometimes necessary because many county court records are still maintained in paper form, and requests for these records must be submitted to clerks and other staff for manual searches. This process can take several weeks to complete.

Aliases and name variances: If there are discrepancies in the spelling of names (such as Steven, Stephen, or Steve), it may cause a delay in obtaining accurate results until a positive confirmation of identity is confirmed. Additionally, sharing common first and last names with others can lead to record mix-ups and further delays.

Overseas history: An international background check may be required if an applicant has spent considerable time in another country. The duration of the check varies depending on the country's level of cooperation. If the government cooperates, completing the check usually takes a few days. However, in some cases, countries have strict privacy laws or inefficient processes, which can cause delays of up to three weeks.

These situations and many others can lead to slow responses from sources and, as a result, create delays. That's why it's crucial to work with a professional organization that conducts searches as a service, can keep track of all the details, and follow up on any delays to work towards receiving more timely responses.

Best Practices for a Smooth Background Check Experience

It can be hard to have a seamless experience, but it is vital to be proactive and reduce your chances of delays.

Gather all the pertinent information upfront. Expedite the search process and avoid delays by gathering all relevant information upfront. Compiling complete and thorough details reduce your need to go back and forth with applicants to obtain missing data. This approach ensures a smoother and more efficient search process.

Check consent forms. Forms that are not signed and dated correctly can prolong the background check process. It is advisable to verify the completeness of the documents upon submission and ensure that there are no blank spaces.

Ensure all details are included with the information. Review all the information gathered to ensure that no details are missing, and double-check for specific information such as employment dates, job titles, contact details of previous employers, former residential addresses, education history, graduation dates, and any other pertinent information to the background check.

Universal Background Check

Let applicants know what to expect. Applicants may ask, "Why is my background checking taking so long." Alleviate their concerns by being transparent and providing detailed explanations of the process. This will prevent any surprises during the time it takes to complete the background check.

Occasionally, a background check will fail. In the event, this happens (e.g. a credit check fail), a landlord or employer must disclose the reasons why under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) if adverse action is taken based on the check results. Applicants do have the right to appeal and may ask for the check(s) to be run again once they’ve corrected information or provided more detail.

How MicroBilt Can Help Facilitate the Background Check Process

At times, companies may try to conduct a background check on their own but soon realize that it requires a lot more effort and time than they previously expected. They may encounter issues like a lack of digitized records from agencies or organizations, requiring additional follow-up time. To resolve this and other problems, they seek assistance from a professional who can take care of the detailed work and provide them with the necessary information.

Background Check Process

Although most background checks are completed within the expected time frame, unforeseen delays happen and can cause frustration for organizations and individuals seeking work, housing, or other business opportunities. That's where MicroBilt steps in.  

With a wealth of experience conducting vital background checks, our suite of tools can help your business identify the most qualified candidates across all industries. Whether it's banking, landlords, property managers, transportation services, delivery services, shipping, livery services, corporations, service industries, or staffing companies, MicroBilt's background screening products have you covered.

To learn more about a pre-employment background check, criminal background check, or any other background check services, contact MicroBilt today. We are happy to provide you with a customized solution that will work to remove the stress associated with applicant screenings. 

Our solutions are designed to provide customers with the most comprehensive screening results to help them make the best decisions. To learn more about our solutions, contact us today at 800-884-4397 or fill out our online form to request one of our business service consultants to contact you.