How Background Checks Are Done?

How Background Checks Are Done?

Conducting background checks is a systematic process, crucial for organizations to ensure they make informed hiring decisions. Understanding this process can help businesses comprehend the depth, duration, and legal considerations involved.

Step 1: Request Initiation

  • The process begins when a client requests a background check. This can be done through a client interface or directly with the background screening provider.

Step 2: Applicant Data Submission

  • Applicants are often involved in the process by submitting their information through an electronic Applicant Management Center (eAMC). This ensures accuracy and efficiency.

Step 3: Order Processing and Instant Searches

  • Once the applicant’s information is submitted, the background check is assigned an order number and processing begins. Instant searches, such as identity verifications, are typically automated.

Step 4: Processor Review

  • The submitted order and results from instant searches are reviewed by a processor for accuracy and completeness.

Step 5: Depth of Check and Jurisdiction Consideration

  • The depth of the background check (e.g., 10-year, 7-year, 3-year, or 1-year criminal history) influences the Turn Around Time (TAT). The applicant’s history in various locations, including international ones, affects the duration​​.
  • Court capabilities play a significant role. Courts with direct electronic access provide quicker results compared to manual courts, where files need to be physically pulled and searched​​.

Step 6: Nationwide Database Limitations

  • Contrary to popular belief, there is no comprehensive “Nationwide” criminal background check system. Instead, over 3800 criminal jurisdictions, along with numerous agencies, maintain separate records, leading to potentially incomplete or outdated information in private databases​​.

Step 7: Compliance with FCRA and State Laws

  • Any criminal records found in databases must be verified at the originating source, typically the local county court, to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state laws​​.

Step 8: Report Retention

  • While the FCRA does not mandate a specific retention period for background check reports, it’s advisable for employers to retain these reports for a significant period. This is due to potential legal actions that can arise from background check violations or related employee incidents​​.


Background checks are a multi-step process involving various levels of verification and research. The timeline can vary, but the goal is always to provide accurate, comprehensive, and legally compliant information to the client. By understanding these steps, clients can better appreciate the thoroughness and necessity of background checks in today’s professional environment.

Share This Story: