The Background on Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know

November 20 2023
4 min read

Hiring an employee is one of the biggest decisions employers make. And hiring the right employee—one of the best investments. Background checks play a pivotal role in this process not only by minimizing the risk of recruiting an unqualified or potentially harmful individual, but also by maximizing the likelihood of finding an ideal fit for the position. 
For those who are unfamiliar or maybe just need a refresher, some background on background checks follows.

Getting Started

Background checks are highly regulated, and employers must ensure that their actions comply with applicable laws and regulations throughout the process. In fact, compliance is essential even before the initiation of any background check. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), the first step for employers is to secure a job applicant’s written consent and authorization prior to performing a background check. Further, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers must ensure that all candidates for a position are treated equally, regardless of gender, race, or background. These federal mandates are in addition to any relevant state, county, or city legislation.

Types of Background Checks

Conducting a background check involves a comprehensive examination of a job candidate’s history. However, the information gathered will largely depend on the type of screening conducted. While there are numerous types of background checks, depending on the particular employer and industry, some of the most common ones include:

Background Check Turnaround Times

Oftentimes, employers want to hire someone to fill a position quickly. As such, one of their most frequently asked questions is, “How long will the background check take?” And the answer is … it depends.

Background check turnaround times vary due to many factors, including the type of information, source limitations, and legal requirements. While some reports can be completed in minutes, others, especially those involving international searches or broader scopes, may take a week or longer. Under optimal conditions, most reports are typically returned within 72 hours. Orange Tree is proud that our U.S. criminal search average is less than 1 day.

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Still, despite the need for expediency, certain unavoidable delays may impact the entire background screening process, and consequently the overall turnaround time. Those delays may include:

  • Unresponsiveness of job applicants in providing authorizations and/or other pertinent information.

  • Limitations on court record access, with some jurisdictions lacking online portals and requiring physical visits.

  • Court closures due to global events, staffing shortages, or natural disasters contributing to backlogs.

  • Diverse and stringent regulations pertaining to international background checks.

  • School or former employment closures.

While some factors are beyond control, measures such as setting time limits for authorizations and prompt data submission, transparent communication about delays, and initiating the background check process early can expedite the overall process.

Background Checks Costs

Similar to turnaround times, there is no standard background check cost since each one is completely different. To help offset costs, some background search companies offer discounts for packages, allowing employers to search multiple records for a set price. Another cost factor to take into consideration is the access fees charged by certain counties and states to “access” criminal records or Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) records.

While the costs of a background check may be off-putting to some, these short-term expenses are far less than the long-term costs of not truly knowing the individual being hired. In maximizing safety and ensuring qualifications, a background check offers peace of mind … and that is something for which no price tag exists.

Why Background Checks?

At the end of the day, it is up to the employer to provide a safe work environment, and performing background checks is a simple but effective way to do so. They serve as a crucial step in making informed hiring decisions and not only increasing the likelihood of selecting the right person for the job, but also enhancing the safety of the workplace.

If you're ready to talk about your organization's unique needs, Orange Tree is here for you with fast and easy background checks that help you speed up your hiring process while filling your positions with the right candidates. Schedule time to speak with our team.