Why do background checks take so long and what can I do about it?

Background checking and vetting potential new hires is becoming an increasingly common onboarding requirement. By screening candidates, a business is helping to protect itself, its customers and existing staff from risk. 

While it makes sense to screen potential employees, not everyone does it, with one of the largest blockers being the speed at which checks are conducted. 

Anyone who has gone through the background checking process – as an employer or themselves as an employee – will tell you background checking can be a bit of a pain. It’s a pain because there is minimal clarity and often a pretty bad experience. 

Experience is everything in the modern commercial world, so it’s surprising that something as important as background checking has not caught up. Employers and job seekers alike both struggle with the time it often takes to receive background check results. But why does it take so long, and what can either employees or employers do about it?  

The nature of the checks and the role 

Much of the complexity of a background checking process depends on the role and the industry being applied for. It goes without saying that certain roles require a deeper and more thorough level of checking than others. Consider a Financial Director of a large organisation or a baggage handler at a busy international airport. These two are going to be subject to a more rigorous screening process than a retail assistant or a waiter. The more complex the role and the greater risk, the longer the background check will inevitably take. 

Solution: As an employer, it makes sense to only do the level of screening relevant to the position. More checks take longer and if they are not necessary, you may be wasting your time. You also have a responsibility to only request the information that is relevant to your company and the role that the candidate is applying for. 

Inaccurate data 

The most common reason for a delayed turnaround is inaccurate data. This is where either the employer or the employee enters incorrect data or there are gaps/inconsistencies between records. While this could be an indication of something deceitful, in most cases, it is more likely to be an honest mistake.  

Solution: Employees should double and triple check the data they submit. Make sure you’re being accurate to the nearest day regarding things like address history or professional experience as sometimes even a gap of a few days can flag and slow the process down. Employers need to look at the processes and technology they are using to manage the process. It is possible to automate the data collection to move away from spreadsheets and emails, thereby removing many of the risks of human error. 

As an example, Vetting.com incorporates the ability to have pre-set prompts and trigger chase emails to help collect data from candidates and referees. 

The applicant hasn’t given consent 

In order to carry out a check, the employer needs the consent of the individual to process their data – especially when running DBS checks. If this is not given, the check cannot be performed. 

Solution: Employees need to give their consent as quickly as possible while still fully understanding what it is they are allowing the employer to do.  

Employers should look to automated systems that collect consent electronically. At Vetting.com, this is our first step. 

How to speed up your background checking process 

Looking at the factors which slow down the background checking process, it becomes clear that the biggest step that businesses can take is automating the way they do things. The efficiencies that this drives will be handed on to the candidate. 

With proper automation and all activity going through one central location, you create consistency and a hub where you are able to track progress for both the employer and the candidate. Vetting.com offers a faster, easier solution for background screening by facilitating an intuitive platform with all your checks in one place. 

To find out more about Vetting.com, please contact us. 


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