Online background checks exist to enable people to look into what people have done in the past. Employers will often use these for pre-employment screening, although they must do so through official channels. They can, however, set their own criteria in terms of what to look for and what is and isn’t acceptable in someone’s background. Indeed, employers will often look for a wide variety of different things, including license records, motor vehicle history, credit history, criminal records, education, and employment. When a check is completed, the information that it provides will depend on exactly what was checked. Employment candidates, therefore, should always ask their prospective employer what they will be looking for to understand what searches will be completed.

How Long Do Online Background Checks Take to Complete?

How long these checks take depends on what has been requested and how in-depth the request is. However, it will usually take between two and four days to complete a full pre-employment background check, as a guideline. However, there are numerous reasons why it can take much longer than this, sometimes up to several weeks. Those reasons include:

  1. That it is difficult to get in touch with past employers or places of learning. This may be because they no longer exist. In this case, an employer is likely to request a W-2 or any other information that proves that the details provided on a resume or application are correct. If you are looking for a job, it can be beneficial, therefore, to already have this information ready.
  2. That courts could be closed for a day or have backlog of requests. This can cause some delays on criminal background checks in particular and no service can speed this up.
  3. Drug testing may also be required as part of the check. If so, then a Medical Review Officer must get in touch with you to arrange for the test to be completed, after which it will have to be send to a laboratory, where backlogs are also often found.

Background checks become even more complex if some of the information has to be obtained from foreign countries. Additionally, it is sometimes necessary to find information on more specific releases or other forms of complex documentation that makes it possible for the search to be completed. Police ministries, non-US courts, and other government bodies that keep records on criminal histories often have a backlog or have other reasons as to why they cannot respond instantly to incoming search requests.

Similarly, educational institutions and non-US past employers often take longer to respond to request. This is sometimes because they will first have to run their own check to determine whether they have to supply the information at all.

In order for a background check to come back as quickly as possible, it is vital that you supply all the relevant information and as much documentation as possible. The more complex the search you want to run, the longer it will also take.