How long does a background check take? 

Jul 20, 2022

Waiting for results from a background check can feel stressful; especially if you are not sure what is involved in the process and what may be causing a delay. The length of time an employment background check can take varies as each check can include the authentication of a number of factors such as identity, previous employment, academic, criminal history, as well as a number of job-specific details. This article explores the moving pieces of the employee background screening process.

What does a background check include?

Employers conduct pre-employment screening to verify if the information included on an applicant’s resume and job application is truthful as well as to discover any criminal or drug abuse history. Information that is verified during this process may include education history, past employment history, criminal offenses, federal offenses, motor vehicle records, and credit history amongst other things. Additionally, employers can tailor background checks to the specifics of different positions, thus not all employee background checks are the same. Based on an employer’s requirements and industry regulations, background checks can include some or all of the following screenings:

Criminal History Screening

A criminal history screening is the most common type of pre-employment background check. The amount of time this type of background check takes can vary significantly depending on the number of jurisdictions (states or counties) in which an applicant’s history will be checked. APTOS Employment Screening packages include both Nationwide Multi-Jurisdictional Criminal Database and County Criminal Court Searches. 

Nationwide Multi-Jurisdictional Criminal Database searches can uncover potential cases from states that the applicant has not resided in or federal offenses such as fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion. Database searches are not considered accurate information and are only used as a pointer to indicate if further areas need to be screened. 

County Criminal Court Searches use county court public records to reveal felony, misdemeanor, and criminal traffic offenses. This is the most accurate type of search as the information is acquired directly from the county courts. 

Social Security Trace

A Social Security Trace is a form of identity verification used to confirm that the Social Security Number (SSN) provided by an applicant is a valid number and it retrieves all addresses and alias names attached to the SSN. This verifies the SSN is not used fraudulently or has been stolen from a deceased person. Social Security Trace results are completed quickly and delivered in only a few hours. 

Employment Verification

Employment Verification involves contacting previous workplaces listed by an applicant to confirm that the applicant was in fact employed there, verify what the applicant’s job titles were during their work tenure, confirm dates of the applicant’s previous employment and discover if the applicant is eligible for rehire. Unfortunately, many applicants lie or exaggerate on their resumes and that is why this part of the screening is so important. Employment Verification ensures the information provided is correct and helps an employer avoid hiring an unqualified candidate. Read more about Employment Verification.

Education Verification

Education Verifications check an applicant’s certifications or education history as provided by the applicant.  This check confirms where the applicant attended school, the type of degree obtained, the major, and sometimes the graduation date. Similar to employment verification, the main benefit is verifying accurate information in order to avoid hiring an unqualified candidate. 

Motor Vehicle Report (MVR)

Motor Vehicle Reports verify the applicant’s drivers license status and uncover serious issues such as suspensions, violations, DUIs, and revocations. MVRs are especially important for positions in which applicants are required to operate motor vehicles on the job.

Drug Screening

Drug screenings verify the applicant has not been using illicit drugs, which could impair their ability to function safely in the workplace. Typically, the results of a drug screening take about one week to return. 

Department of Transportation Background Checks

Employment background checks for organizations under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation (DOT) have different requirements than other employment background checks, due to the inherent liability of the work.  APTOS Screening offers employee screening packages specific to DOT requirements, which include reports such as Safety Performance History, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and DOT Panel Drug Test.  View background screening services for Department of Transportation.

How to avoid background check delays

As an applicant, the easiest way to avoid delays in the employee background screening process is to provide complete and accurate information. When partial or inaccurate information is provided, the background check process can take longer.  Additionally, as a legal requirement, employers must acquire signed release forms from an applicant in order to initiate a background check.  An applicant signing release forms as soon as possible can avoid delays.

How long does a background check take?

The employment background screening process can require a number of separate background checks. The time it takes to receive results depends on the components of a chosen Employment Screening package, as well as the accuracy and validity of information provided by the applicant.  However, at APTOS Screening the majority of our background check orders are completed within one business day and all of our orders are completed within four days, with the exception of drug screenings. With so many specific verifications the background check process can seem overwhelming, not only to applicants but to employers as well.  When you are an employer using APTOS products, APTOS employees will walk you through the process so you know what to expect from your order.

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