Depending on the circumstances, waiting for the results of a background check can be a breeze or fraught with worry. Fortunately, they usually happen quickly. Background checks tend to follow a system and schedule of checks and balances. Barring any complications, you can expect to hear back within a matter of days, but situations can vary. If you’re still wondering how long a background check usually takes, here’s a detailed list of the steps and items the “checkers” need to review.
Identity, of course, is a big part of any background check. Verifying identity can be as simple as asking for and confirming a person’s personal identification, like passports, driver’s licenses, and social security numbers. These are cross-checked against credit, government, and other records to confirm applicants are who they say they are. With everything computerized these days, this won’t take long, but it depends on who’s running the check.
The Job of Job Checking
This might take a bit longer. It depends on how quickly the person doing the checking can contact the places where the subject worked. The longer the person’s work history, the more time it takes to reach out to their former employers. If the person’s work history is confined to a specific town or region, it should go quickly. If they worked in other countries, add more time to the employment background investigation to contact and hear back from those employers.
Vaccination status is a hot-button topic these days and may lead some to wonder if the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) prevents employers from inquiring about vaccination status. To clear things up, the United States established HIPAA to protect people’s personal health information and medical records and to give them control over how those records are used. That said, it does not preclude employers from asking for proof of vaccination status, particularly regarding COVID-19. This can be a simple matter of the potential employee presenting a vax card.
To Catch a Thief?
How long does a background check usually take? Well, we also need to take the criminal background check into consideration. Depending on the job, this may be a cursory check or a more intense one. The average criminal background check can take just a day or two, if the search is restricted to local and regional records. High-security jobs may require a deep dive into city, county, state, national, federal, and even international records, as well as sex offender registries and global and national watchlists. The security demands of the job decide the length of the wait.