Why is Your Background Check Taking So Long?

February 19, 2020 Ken Wetzel


You love the company, you're excited about the job, and the interview went great. The next step? A background check. But that’s no problem – you know it's part of the hiring process, and after all, how long could it take? We live in the digital age, and information is quick and easy to come by.

But then a day passes. And then another. And you start to worry. Believe it or not, your potential employer wants this process done as quickly as you do - a background screening can be a stressful experience for both you and the hiring company, and a smooth hiring process benefits both parties. So, when the process is delayed or hits some bumps, it increases anxiety for everyone.

However, the delays could be caused by a number of different things – many of which have nothing to do with your past.

Much of the information hasn’t been digitized

Today, information moves at the speed of light. We're all so used to instant downloads, immediate information delivery, and the Internet connecting the entire world that it's hard to imagine anyone manually rifling through paper documents.

However, that’s often what happens. Many times, people doing the research have to be on-site to search records physically, or they rely on court officers to find the requested information. These manual searches slow down the entire discovery process. And let’s not forget that weather can affect this as well – an awful snowstorm or another severe weather incident could shut down a courthouse, stopping the checking process before it even starts.

There are mistakes on the job application or order form

Errors on the application – such as an incorrect social security number, inaccurate birthdate, or misspelled first or last name (or other mistakes regarding unique identifiers) – can cause mismatches during the search process. The employer may have to reach out to you to double-check all the information he submitted to make sure it’s accurate – everything from name spelling to numbers. But what if you didn’t make any mistakes? It could be the employer made an error inputting data on the order form itself. Either way, following up to make sure everything's correct can grind everything to a complete halt.

The job position requires a more comprehensive fact check

If you’re applying for a position with a high-security rating, one in the Healthcare profession or one responsible for managing sensitive financial information, you’ll need a more in-depth screening. A quick once-over won’t do the trick. Each of these industries must have the right aspects of his or her background examined per the appropriate regulations and laws – and finding this information could take more time. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

If you’re concerned that the process is taking too long, reach out to your contact at the hiring company. He or she might be able to answer your questions or can let you know if the company needs any additional information to finish the process.

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