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
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.
- Corporate Screening: FAQs
- Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence: Background Checks in Michigan
- University of Mississippi Department of Human Resources: Frequently Asked Questions for Background Check Policy: Q12
- University of Connecticut Department of Human Resources: Pre-Employment Criminal Background Checks Frequently Asked Questions
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.