Background checks are a cornerstone of the recruitment process. They ensure candidates not only fit the role in terms of skills and experience but also meet ethical and legal requirements. While these checks can range from criminal records to educational verification, each type serves a critical purpose. This article delves into how swiftly these necessary evaluations can be executed and highlights how RefNow optimises this essential process.

How Long Do Background Checks Take? Understanding Timelines and Avoiding Delays with RefNow

What Do Background Checks Show?

Typically, a comprehensive background check will uncover a wealth of information, from a candidate's past criminal convictions (if any) to their educational and employment history.

This process is pivotal for employers to make informed hiring decisions, safeguarding the workplace and its culture.

A background check also protects the employer's reputation and brand, giving them peace of mind that they are hiring an individual with a solid background and ethical standing.

Reference verifications are important to background checks. They shed light on a candidate's work ethic and character and play a crucial role in spotting potential red flags, such as discrepancies in claimed experiences or even outright fraudulent claims.

It's also worth mentioning that other screenings—like DBS checks and social media vetting—also contribute valuable insights into a candidate's suitability, revealing behaviour and discrepancies that might not surface through traditional means.

Common Delays in Background Checks

A background check is a multi-step process that involves verifying multiple pieces of information. As such, several factors can delay the completion of these checks.

Sources of Delays

Delays in the background check process are not uncommon and often stem from several sources. Unresponsive references, incomplete applications, or issues accessing public records can significantly stall the process, frustrating HR teams and candidates.

Furthermore, legal requirements and background check regulations can also contribute to delays.

For example, certain states have ‘ban the box’ laws that prevent employers from inquiring about a candidate's criminal history until later in the hiring process.

Knowing the primary sources of delay in your specific location can help HR teams anticipate and proactively address potential roadblocks.

Impact of Delays

While everyone tries to avoid delays in the background check process, they can still occur. In addition to causing frustration and increased workload for HR teams, delays can significantly impact candidates.

Such delays can ripple through the hiring timeline, extending the recruitment cycle and potentially affecting the organisation’s operational efficiency.

In competitive job markets, prolonged checks can even result in losing a qualified candidate to another offer.

Having delays in background checks can also impact the candidate's experience.

A lengthy and drawn-out process can create a negative impression of the company, leading to potential candidates withdrawing their applications or declining an offer even if they pass the screening.

Organisations can take several steps to minimise background check delays. First and foremost, it is crucial to set clear expectations and timelines with candidates. This can help manage expectations and reduce frustration on both ends.

Maintaining open communication with candidates throughout the process can also help prevent delays. Keeping them updated on the progress of their background check and addressing any potential issues or roadblocks can help build trust and maintain a positive candidate experience.

Implementing efficient processes, such as electronic forms and online tools to request and process background checks, can also speed up the reference checking process and minimise delays.

RefNow's Solutions to Common Problems

We've spoken about delays impacting the hiring process and candidate experience.

With these delays and if a business runs checks on multiple people, losing track of who needs a check and at what stage can happen. RefNow's platform offers a centralised dashboard where all background check requests and results can be easily tracked and managed.

Here’s how RefNow's solutions can help address common problems businesses face during the background check process.

Real-Time Tracking

RefNow introduces a transformative solution with its real-time tracking feature.

This tool provides HR with a dynamic timeline and audit trail of each step in the background check process, from request initiation to completion, ensuring that all parties are kept in the loop and delays are minimised.

Verification Features

By partnering with LinkedIn and YOTI, RefNow enhances the references' authenticity. This allows HR to access deeper insights into a candidate’s professional background and network, further securing the verification process.

This significantly reduces the time spent verifying references, expediting the overall background check process.

Fraud Detection Capabilities

The platform’s sophisticated algorithms are expertly designed to sniff out fraudulent references, thus bolstering the integrity of the hiring process and supporting more accurate hiring decisions.

Moreover, fraud detection capabilities save hiring managers time and resources by eliminating the need to manually verify references, resulting in a faster and more efficient hiring process.

Customisation and Flexibility

RefNow's customisable question profiles adapt seamlessly to different job roles and departments, enhancing the relevance and depth of the information gathered during the check.

This flexibility is complemented by customisable emails that streamline communication and keep all stakeholders informed and engaged.

Efficient Report Generation

The ability to generate and download PDF reports simplifies the analysis and documentation of background checks, providing clear and actionable insights into each candidate’s background verification status.

Gone are the days of messy and time-consuming spreadsheets; RefNow streamlines the process and creates a seamless audit trail for future reference.

Team Collaboration

RefNow fosters a collaborative environment within HR departments, supporting multiple users and teams.

Permission groups ensure that sensitive information is handled securely and responsibly, enhancing internal compliance and workflow efficiency.

Going back and forth between team members has become a thing of the past, as everyone can access and view relevant information in real-time.


The duration of background checks can vary widely.

The problem is that every hour it takes to complete a background check is another hour your company could potentially lose out on hiring top talent.

With RefNow, HR departments can expect a more streamlined, efficient, and transparent process.

By integrating real-time tracking, sophisticated verification, and fraud detection, RefNow speeds up the hiring process and enhances its reliability and compliance.

For HR professionals looking to refine their recruitment operations, RefNow offers a robust and innovative solution that meets the modern demands of background verification.

If you would like to learn more about how RefNow's automated Employment Referencing software can help your organisation, reach out to us today and get your first 5 checks free.