As you start your job search, you may be wondering about how long it takes to get a background check. It might seem like a simple question, but there are a lot of factors that can affect the answer. 

You might have questions about what’s included in a criminal background check or what your employer is allowed to look at when they run one on you. We’ll take you through everything from start to finish so that you are not left wondering: how long does a background check take?

How Long Does it Take?

The time it takes to complete an employee background check varies from one organization to another. The following are the general timelines:

  • Up to three weeks – This is the longest amount of time you should expect to wait for results.
  • Three days or less – Most employers will have their results back within 72 hours, although there are some exceptions. Some states do not allow online submission and require paper applications, which can cause delays in receiving your report.
  • Seven days or less – You may be able to get your report faster if you use one of the faster services like InteliCheck or Accurate Biometrics. These services are more expensive, but they’re also designed specifically for employees who need quick turnaround times so they can put out fires quickly instead of waiting around.

What do Employers Check?

One of the most common misconceptions about employee background checks is that they are only used to determine whether or not a candidate is eligible for a job. While this may be true, there are many other reasons why employers conduct these checks on potential employees.

To get a clearer picture of what’s involved in an employee background check, let’s take a look at one of them:

  • Criminal record – even if you’ve had no convictions and haven’t been arrested in years, it’s still likely your employer will run this type of search before hiring you. This includes any arrests as well as convictions for minor driving offenses such as speeding or driving without insurance/license plates/registration, etc.

There are others like Federal Background Checks, Fingerprint Background Checks, Employment Background Checks, and Universal Background Checks, etc. depending on your candidacy.

Should You Contact Your Employers?

If you are concerned about the length of time, you should contact your employer. No federal law requires employers to provide a reason for delaying action on an employee background check. 

If you are concerned about the results of the background check, then try contacting your employer directly. You may need to ask for more information about why there is a delay in hiring and/or ask for an explanation as to how long it could take before they make a decision regarding this matter.

However, if they give you a timeline, it is best to stick with it and only contact them if you receive no response even after the time has lapsed.


Let’s face it, we all want to know how long an employment background check takes. It can be a stressful process for employees and employers alike, and knowing how long each stage will take can help you better prepare for the process.

However, if it takes too long, or more than informed or anticipated, it is best to contact your employer and ask for an update!