How Long Does a Background Check take?

More employers than ever¬† are running a comprehensive background check on members of staff. It’s all about managing risk. It can be very expensive for a business to take on someone who doesn’t work out as an employee. Usually, applicants think checking is all about a criminal record. But that’s just part of it. Some employers also try to weed out people who have over-exaggerated their leadership experience, have inflated their exam grades, or who have money problems. All this checking takes time. So exactly how long can you expect to wait?

What is the standard process for a background check?

The bad news is that there is no standard process for background checking. The only legal requirement is for some jobs to have a DBS check. Employers can also be fined if they employ illegal workers, so most get round this by asking applicants to prove their nationality. Everything else is optional. Some employers choose not to do any background checks on workers. If the job is fairly low-level, and doesn’t involve access to large sums of money, the expense of running checks isn’t worth it – the employee can do minimal damage to the business.

If however the employee is in a key position, more extensive checks might be required. So there is no one standard way of checking out an applicant for a job. Most companies will happily share their process with you. It shouldn’t be something secretive. The idea is that if applicants know up front that someone will be fact checking their CV and running a credit check, they are more likely to be honest in the first place.

Credit Checks

One of the main types of background check is a credit check, common for jobs in finance, insurance and related industries. Employers are concerned that someone in serious financial difficulties might be tempted to pilfer money from the company’s bank account, or be tempted into helping criminals access money. You will usually be asked for your permission before an employer does a credit check. The good news is that all of the credit checking information is online, so the search is pretty much instantaneous.

The credit check is a “soft” check, which won’t affect your credit rating or stop you applying for more credit in the future. Employers usually only run credit checks after a job offer has been made, or on a small number of shortlisted candidates.

Internet Searching

Another common tactic for quick background checking is to see what can be found out about you online. If you have a relatively uncommon name, this is easy. Companies might look at your social media profiles, and see what else comes up when they run your name through a search engine. You can do this yourself to see what they might discover. As it only takes a few minutes to Google someone or look at their Instagram, many companies choose to do this before deciding who to invite for interview.

Disclosure Background Checks

Not all companies ask members of staff to have a Disclosure Check, also known as a DBS check or CRB check. In most cases, these checks are restricted to people doing specific jobs. If you are asked to have a disclosure check, the forms go off to an external agency. Delays are less than they used to be, but getting the certificate can still take a few weeks. Ask your employer if you can start work while you wait for your certificate to arrive.

CV And Fact Checking

Telling fibs on your CV is surprisingly common. Surely it does no harm to change a few A-level grades from C to A? Well it might, if your employer decides to check. Lies like this can call your honesty into question. Another common tactic is to ring previous employers, even those not listed as references, and ask them to confirm your job title and dates of employment. So don’t be tempted to say you headed up a department with 20 people if you didn’t. As all this checking is fairly time-consuming, most employers will target certain positions for a higher level of checking than others. There’s nothing to worry about if you’re honest on your CV and haven’t exaggerated your experience or job titles.



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