The standard background check takes an average of 48-72 hours to complete. However, not all background screenings are the same and some can take longer than others. There are many types of searches for an employment background check, each involving different processes and sources, which each have different turnaround times. Below you will find the most common types of searches, their average turnaround times, and factors that can affect how quickly your report is complete.
Social Security Trace
This screening process is the jumping off point for all background checks. It provides residential history, aliases, and other key data that helps guide other searches and verifies matches that are discovered in a criminal database. This report can usually be accessed instantaneously.
National Criminal Record Database Search
These searches are used to uncover criminal offenses that happened outside of the areas where your candidate has resided. Most criminal background checks that find no criminal records can be returned instantly. However, when criminal records are found the result turnaround time varies from state to state and county to county. Some courts have fully automated and up-to-date records while others are “clerk searched” which means researchers must wait on court clerks to pull the needed information. In some of these “clerk search” courts, the average turnaround time can be two weeks.
County and Criminal Records
Felony and misdemeanor searches of criminal records are completed through hands-on searches. If there is no “name match” most of these searches, clear within 48 hours. If there is a name match, it can take an additional 24-48 hours for researchers to search through the available information to ensure accurate reporting.
Motor Vehicle Records
Driving record searches include license validity, type, vehicle violations, suspensions, revocations, accidents, and convictions. The majority of states return these results within seconds. However, states including Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia take up to 72 hours to return these results.
Verifications teams perform in-depth detailed and confidential employment verifications that include dates of employment, job titles, and supervisor references. These verifications usually take 48 hours. However, it is completely dependent on the previous employer and could take up to five days.
Employers can also verify education. This type of verification includes contacting all educational institutions listed by the applicant to confirm dates of attendance, certificates, diplomas, and degree levels (BA, BS, MA, MS etc.) These are usually completed within 48 hours. However, winter and summer breaks can add further delays.
It’s important to verify the license number, date received, expiration, and the standing of license for all 50 state boards including, accounting, technology, medical doctors, nursing, physical therapist, respiratory therapist, cccupational therapist, dental, electrical etc. These verifications can usually be completed within 15 hours. However, delays may vary from state to state.
Credit reports are an essential tool for reducing the threat of internal theft. Results for credit reports can come from three major credit bureaus (Transunion, Experian, and Equifax) and are usually returned instantly.
Key Factors That Can Cause Longer Turnaround Times
- Jurisdiction requirements where the search is being conducted
- Technology limitations or incomplete records at the courts
- Holidays or court closures
- Additional investigation needed to obtain accurate information.
- Common name searches such as a search for a candidate with the name “James Smith”
Performing a pre-employment background check is an essential part of creating a safe work environment and play a large role in limiting the liability of a company. Talk to an ESS expert today to learn more about what a screening program can do for you.