Why is my background check taking so long?

Have you applied for a job and are now wondering why the background screening check is taking so long?

You’re not alone. The wait for a background check can at times be frustrating, especially if you’re ready and able to start straight away.

Here we’ll look at some of the factors which can lengthen the time taken to do various types of background checks.

The average application process for most permanent jobs is between one and three months – from submitting the application to actually starting work.

A significant part of the application process is a background check. The length of time taken to complete screening can depend on the nature of the job plus several other factors which are often beyond you and your employer’s control.

Job applicants in the UK are often subject to a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) background check. Basic criminal background checks can be done for regular jobs but more thorough checks are required for positions with high responsibility or in healthcare and education.

There are three levels of background check: Basic Disclosure; Standard DBS Check; Enhanced DBS Check.

Basic Disclosure

This kind of background check is used for all types of industries. It’s a criminal record check which job applicants and employers in the UK can request to get a basic disclosure check on a person’s criminal history, convictions and cautions from the Police National Computer (PNC).

Standard DBS Check

This is a background check required for positions of high responsibility such as lawyers and accountants. Only employers can request a Standard DBS check for the criminal history (if any) of applicants and employees. It will inform an employer of any cautions, warnings, reprimands and convictions received in the United Kingdom. Employers can also ensure that employees or candidates have no previous offences such as fraud or financial misconduct.

Enhanced DBS Check

This is a deeper background check used mostly by employers healthcare, childcare and education. As well as a criminal background check, an Enhanced DBS Check lets employers know whether an applicant or employee is barred from working with vulnerable groups. If so they’ll be on the DBS Children’s Barred List or the DBS Adult’s Barred List.

The extent of the background checks required affects the length of time you’ll have to wait, which could be anything between a few days to a few months.

Employers in the US can have a basic criminal record check done instantly. Most basic background checks can be done within a week but the records are frequently incomplete or even incorrect. Background checking organizations spend more time and resources digging deeper for comprehensive results.

A more in depth FBI check takes about a month for results to come back.

Other factors affecting time taken for background checks

Some employers receive thousands of applications for a single vacancy. Going through all those applications might be just one person’s job in the human resources department. Any background checks are only done for shortlisted applications.

Companies often use a third-party background checking service provider to process all those applications, which certainly helps speed up the process, but there are other reasons background checks can be held up that are beyond the employer’s or screening agency’s control.

Authorizing Background Checks

Due to data protection laws, any employers or screening agencies doing background checks must be authorized to do so by the applicant.

Applicants have to fill in and sign release forms to authorize background checks. Sometimes the appropriate forms are not sent by the applicant, which causes delays if those forms have to be requested or resubmitted.

In the US, applicants have to be notified when a background check is going to be carried out. The employer or agency cannot continue until they receive signed authorization from the applicant.

Incomplete & Inaccurate Information

The onus is on the applicant to ensure any declarations or information on the job application form are identical on the documents authorizing a background check.

If for example you use your nickname on one form but write your full name on another, that’s a discrepancy which has to be cleared up.

Delays Obtaining References

There can be lengthy delays when waiting for feedback from references given on a job application for a variety of reasons.

A previous employer might have moved on to a different position or changed their contact details. Tracking them down takes time.

Not all companies keep employee records on a computer network. Someone might have to dig out old files from the basement to respond to a reference request.

How to Speed up Background Screening Tests

If you’re applying for a job that requires a background check, the best thing you can do is dmake sure all the information you provide is accurate and up to date.

Try contacting the individuals that you list as your references to make sure they are still at the same address and use the same phone number or email address. Let them know that they might soon receive a reference request so they can respond quickly.

Whether you’re an applicant or an employer, using a dedicated background screening agency ensures that all necessary information is collected and accurate. They also have the time, tools and resources to gather information across states or internationally.