Why Is My Background Check Taking Longer Than Usual?

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Posted by: David Garcia June 15, 2022

Delays in any necessary process can feel frustrating and worrying, especially when it comes to pre-employment screening. A delayed background check can lead to anxiousness whether you’re a job candidate or a hiring manager. Thankfully, they are rarely a cause for concern. 

Background checks can be extensive processes that require strict attention to detail. If false information is in the end report, it could sabotage your entire hiring process.

This post will take you through some of the leading causes of delay throughout the screening process. By the end, we’re sure you’ll feel completely reassured that everything is proceeding as it should. Let’s get into it!

What Causes Delays in a Background Check?

Multiple factors can affect how long your background check takes to come back. Many of them are out of your control, which can feel frustrating. However, being aware of these factors may help you understand the delays. With this in mind, we’ve listed some key reasons below. 

Differing State Regulations

All states do things slightly differently, meaning their background check process will vary too. Some states have more restrictions on how readily available an individual’s data is. This can hold up the retrieval process. 

Background screening services cannot violate state regulations, so navigation of different policies requires caution and care. The diligence required delays the process, but it’s a necessary delay. 

Incomplete Data Records

Gaining access to an individual’s personal records is one thing, but ensuring everything is where it should be is another. Sometimes, for various reasons, records are not maintained properly. 

Incomplete data records, or inaccurate information, can significantly delay the screening process. Sometimes it can come down to one incorrect spelling or an accidentally mislabeled piece of information.

The problem stems from the fact that these inaccuracies may go undetected until midway through the screening process, forcing the process to a halt. 

When a background screener contacts an organization to verify specific details, the entire process depends on that organization’s timely response. Depending on their efficiency, this can add days or even weeks to the estimated screening timeline. 

Third-Party Delays

Delays are not always the sole responsibility of the background checking service. Sometimes, delays can occur because of third-party failings entirely out of the screener’s control. 

Additionally, other organizations may simply move at a much slower pace. Even slight differences can all accumulate over time to create a significant delay. It’s a domino effect, and it’s mostly out of the control of both the employer and screener alike!

Data Confirmation Takes Time

While background screening services aren’t responsible for how fast another organization moves, they are responsible for ensuring that all of the information provided is correct. Accuracy is especially relevant to employment and education verification and screening of criminal history. 

Submitting incorrect information in any one of those categories could make the difference between an employer’s decision to hire or to take adverse action against a candidate.

This kind of meticulous verification takes time. While you (as the employer or employee in this case) may grow impatient as time goes on, it’s vital to recognize that these steps take time because of their importance. It would be cause for concern if the screening process took no time at all, as this could be an indicator of negligence. 

No one likes waiting for results, but sometimes it’s a good thing and could even be a point of reassurance. 

The Mercy of the Court

Being at the court’s mercy means that you are subject to the court’s will and, by extension, the clerk assigned to retrieve the requested information. 

Some counties do not have regulations dictating how many hours per day a clerk is required to perform searches for this information. Living in a county where a clerk is not obligated to perform searches for a set amount of time could significantly delay the process.

Do Different Types of Background Checks Take Longer Than Others?

Yes, different sectors require background checks of various complexity, which can significantly impact the time it takes to complete a background check. The more information required, the longer the screening process will take. 

You will often find that the most prolonged background checks are for positions that give an employee direct responsibility for another human being, such as education or healthcare. Failure to complete sufficient background checks for these roles can lead to severe legal repercussions

How Do Job Seekers Cause Background Check Delays?

Sometimes, neither the screener nor the third-party organization causes the delays, but the job seeker themselves. Failure to produce the requested documentation promptly can significantly extend how long the screening is estimated to take. Additionally, being dishonest or providing incomplete information can substantially delay a background check.


Although delays can be frustrating, they are often an entirely unavoidable part of the process. All background screening processes call for the same degree of accuracy and efficiency. If the process seems to take a while, the screening service is likely just being thorough. If you have any doubts, get in touch with them for an update!

At ScoutLogic, we provide a background screening that is diligent, comprehensive—and time-efficient. Call today to find out how you can save time with a dedicated Scout.

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