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How Long Does a Background Check Take For Any Job?

While applying for a new job, you will often come across your prospective employers talking about conducting a background check in the last leg of the interview. So, once you have been informed that you are running for the position and are on the verge of receiving an offer, they will ask for certain information to conduct a background check. This is essential for all organizations as they want to know all about the person they would be inducting into their organization.

It is important to remember that organizations do not have anything personal against the candidates. However, it is their job to know that the person joining the organization is trustworthy and all information provided by them is correct.

There are hundreds of candidates applying for jobs, and it has been seen, quite unfortunately, that some of them try to fabricate crucial information. They might not have provided the correct GPA in their resume, citing higher scores than they received. Or, it could be something more severe, like hiding a criminal background.

Hence, there is no need to feel intimidated if employers ask you for additional information to check your background. Instead, once you have cleared the check, you will be able to join the company more confident than ever as the organization will place its complete trust in you. Here are certain things you may expect during a background check.

What Kind of Checks Are Conducted During Background Checks?

What Kind of Checks Are Conducted During Background Checks?

A background check is conducted to ensure that all the information you have provided is authentic. The checks are conducted based on several parameters. While the checks are conducted mainly at the discretion of the company, certain kinds of checks are common to all. Here are the various aspects on which the checks are conducted, so ensure that you provide the correct information.

Identity Verification Check

This is the very first check that most employees have to go through. The employer will most likely ask for your social security number and trace it. This will disclose your address and many other crucial pieces of information. It will match your photograph, and employers might also ask you to go through a fingerprint check. If your social security number is correct, then there is no need to worry. The verification only takes a couple of days.

Employment Details Verification

This is another crucial aspect of your background checks. In this verification, your prospective employers will ascertain that all your claims regarding your previous employment are accurate. For example, did you work in the companies you mentioned in your resume? Did you hold the positions you claimed you did? Is the duration mentioned for each position mentioned in the resume correct?

Most importantly, did you really draw the salary you mentioned during the interview, based on which you negotiated a higher salary? Your prospective employer will contact the human resource personnel of your previous workplaces for all this information. In addition, they will also try to find out about your conduct when you were with them and whether you were a loyal and hardworking employee.

So, the higher the number of companies in which you have worked previously, the longer the background check will be. In some cases, it could take up to two weeks. In addition, if you have worked abroad, then the checks might take even longer. You might also be asked to sign a release form which gives the company the authority to ask questions about all the facts.

Academic Detail Verification

Academic Detail Verification

Your employers will try to determine whether all the information you provided regarding your academic qualifications is accurate. Did you indeed attend the schools and colleges you mentioned in your resume? Did you indeed score the GPA that you stated? Some candidates assume that as they provide copies of their certificates when asked for, that should be enough, and academic verification is not essential.

However, the reality is quite different. Unethical candidates have been known to produce fake documents and certificates, which makes it imperative that the company reaches out to colleges and universities by cross-checking the records.

The same goes for any professional certifications you may have acquired. If you have been to colleges and universities outside your state or abroad, you might have to wait several days for the verification to be completed, and it could take ten days to a fortnight for the check.

Bonus Read: How to List Education on Resume Properly? {5 Best Examples – 2022}

Criminal Background Check

Criminal Background Check

The nature of the criminal background check can vary depending on the state you were residing in and your current location. The purpose of the check is to ensure that your past is clean and that you are a reliable person with whom company secrets can be shared once you become a part. A lot can depend on the findings of this check, and a candidate might have a completely clean slate.

Or, they might have a misdemeanor to their name for which they were duly fined. Again, what might be considered a misdemeanor in one state might be considered a criminal offense in another. If a candidate has served a sentence, the company will go a long way to find out about the nature of your offense.

Some crimes might have been committed unwittingly, while you might have been acquitted from others. This kind of verification can take quite a few days, and if anything comes up during the background check, it is for the organization to decide whether they will give you a chance and overlook your past as you try to turn over a new leaf.

Credit Checks

This check is conducted to ensure that you are a stable person. Basically, it does not matter to a company how much money you have. However, knowing about your credit history tells them whether you had ever filed for bankruptcy. If you have a good credit score, it means you are a responsible person, careful with your money, and will likewise make a responsible employee. This hardly takes a couple of days.

Global Watch List Verification

Global Watch List Verification

This check is most conducted if you are applying for a government position. This check does not take much time because information for global watch lists is readily available. Since handling sensitive government information is a huge responsibility, employers make sure that you have not been condemned by any governments around the world.

Bonus Read: How to Add Security Clearance on Resume? Example With Template

Driving Verifications

While you might have provided your driver’s license during your identity verification, your potential employer might still conduct a driving check to ensure your insurance status. This check only requires one or two days, and this would be even more important if you have to be on the road frequently due to work and would be driving yourself. They would, of course, want to hire someone who is a careful driver so that they don’t have to worry about accidents, insurance, or compensation.

Why Will Your Employers Always Conduct a Background Check?

No matter which position you are applying for, your employers will always conduct a background check to ensure they are hiring a reliable person. Hiring a person who already has a criminal background might prove to be a risk if something indeed goes wrong later. There could be cause for a criminal lawsuit, and it could hinder the productivity of the organization.

Moreover, the other employees know they are safe working in the organization. A look into the candidate’s past can reveal a lot about who they are, and organizations with strict codes of ethics will want to know all about it.

How Long Can Background Checks Last?

How Long Can Background Checks Last?

As mentioned earlier, the timeframes of the checks depend a lot on the nature of the verification and the places the candidate has been to in the past. Sometimes, the checks can take longer due to some official red tape. Sometimes, background checks take time simply because they are hiring multiple candidates and looking into their backgrounds. However, the candidates might not know about it and might be unnecessarily alarmed. In such cases, it is best to follow up with your employers.

Typically, a background check should take around a week, and the checks take longer in cases where the candidate had lived abroad for several years.

However, the easiest way to ensure that the checks are conducted as quickly as possible is to provide all the information to the best of your knowledge. The fewer discrepancies found in the information provided, the less time it will take. For example, make sure your names and addresses are spelled correctly. If you have lived in multiple cities or countries, proof of residence in all of them can prevent delays.

Moreover, as a candidate, you must ensure that you have as many documents regarding your academics and career as possible. Lack of paper trails is one of the major causes of delays. You can also reach out to the various institutions beforehand and ensure they have all the information with them so that they can quickly provide it when an employer calls.

As a candidate, you must also sign the release forms so your employers can get the information as quickly as possible. If you make sure about these factors, then you can prevent a lot of unnecessary delays.

Bonus Read: 22 Best Interview Affirmations For Job Interview

What Happens if Something Faulty Comes Up in the Background Checks?

If something faulty comes up in your background check, you will be notified about it and will be given a chance to rectify the mistake. Sometimes, there are just errors in records, and the issues get resolved as soon as the error is corrected.

However, suppose the employer has found a lot of discrepancies in the information provided by you during the background checks. In that case, you might be questioned and asked why the information provided by you does not match the official records. This will only result in unnecessary delays.

In some instances, if the organizations are stringent, they will inform you that they cannot proceed with the recruitment procedure and withdraw their offer. Hence, you must be very careful about providing the correct information to your prospective employer.


Background checks can take time, but there is nothing to be afraid of if you are honest and have provided all the correct information to your employers. They will verify and cross-check the information, and once it is completed, you will be notified and handed your offer letter. That is your moment of success. So do not be alarmed if the checks take a little extra time- your employers are just being thorough. And in the end, you will surely land your dream job.