Still Waiting for Your Candidate’s Background Check?

Kathy Barnett | July 13th, 2020


Background checks are an important part of the pre-employment screening process and typically include past employment verification, credit history, and criminal history.  These checks can help ensure the safety and security of your organization’s employees.  And the reports help protect your company from potential risks by discovering possible criminal history, employer sanctions, or application padding. 

If background testing is integrated into your hiring workflow, getting the results back promptly is key to hiring new applicants quickly.  When you are ready to make a job offer, it can be frustrating to wait for a completed background check.  Occasionally, when you send a request to your background check vendor, the request status does not update.  As hours or days pass, you may be wondering why your background check is taking so long. What causes this problem?

A common issue – data entry

What you think are hold-ups on the vendor’s side, may actually be delays that started earlier in the hiring process, with data entry. Often, applicant information is incomplete or incorrect.  Here are some common data input errors that can cause background checks to take longer to process:

Use of special characters

Sometimes applicants cut and paste data from a resume created from a template such as MS Word. When pasting work history data into the application, the data can contain special characters that interfere with sending the data to the vendor.

If possible, edit the field containing the work history. Copy all the text from the work history field and paste it into a text editor such as notepad. Next, copy all the data from notepad, paste it back into the work history field in your hiring application, and save the data. Taking this action will remove any special characters that were present in the original word document. If your application allows you to resend the background request, do so after you have saved the data.

Invalid DOB

Sometimes an applicant will forget to change the year when entering their date of birth. Most often, they will enter the current year instead of the birth year (i.e., 12/02/2020).

If your hiring application allows you to edit the date of birth, change the incorrect value, and resend the background request.

Invalid location

Because background check laws differ across states, some vendors will tie the type of background package used for an applicant to the applicant’s specific hiring location. If your applicant’s location is invalid, the vendor cannot assign a specific package and cannot perform the background check.  The system will flag this with an error.  Check with your vendor to confirm that the hiring location has a valid background package assigned.

Be Patient

It can feel like forever while you are waiting for the results of a background check.  You may be nervous that you are going to miss out on a high-quality candidate while you wait and want to offer the job before receiving the results back. Please don’t do this as it can cause problems later after the employee has been hired.  One of the reasons companies run background checks is to reduce liability and keep employees safe and the organization profitable.  Background checks are a proven way to reduce the odds of a bad hire.  By paying careful attention to data input, you can reduce the time it takes to receive the results of your background check.

Kathy Barnett

Technical Support Engineer