How Long Does it Take to Run an Employment Background Check?

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The typical time frame for a criminal background check is 48 to 72 hours. However, the breadth of the search, including the number of states and countries a candidate has resided in, impact the timing. Alerting candidates to potential delays after interviews is good human resources practice.

Background Check Basics

In some cases, employers have federal background checks conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and state checks by state-based police agencies. Because the national criminal database might not contain all crimes reported in a given state, having both checks is broader. However, the timeline to complete state checks can vary. In rare cases, it can take up to three or four weeks for a completed background check, according to The University of Mississippi Department of Human Resources

Delay Factors

The number of states and counties that must be checked are among the common factors that delay background checks, reports the University of Connecticut Department of Human Resources. It takes longer to check someone's records in multiple counties and states, for instance, than it does to check the records of someone who has lived in one or two states and only a few counties. A candidate who has lived abroad, or has a large number of previously known residences, might also face a long background check.