Unfortunately, no screening process is perfect. In fact, the industry average turnaround time for a commercial, non-clearance regulated background screen is 3 to 7 business days.

That window can then be furthered depending on a number of different factors. Such delays, while not expected, are good to be aware of when undergoing the commercial criminal screen process.

4 Reasons that Can Hold Up a Commercial Criminal Background Screen


The first reason a background check might be delayed is due to the person having multiple areas of residence.

If you live in multiple counties, record requests need to be submitted to each one. That can take quite a bit of time depending on the number of counties. The more submissions, the longer the process takes.


Another reason the screening process may take longer than usual is a mistake made through tech adoption.

That term refers to when someone finishes filling out a form for another person because they are not comfortable with or do not want to take time with the application. When that happens, it is easy to make mistakes like putting in the wrong social security number or address.

There are many examples of tech adoption, but it is most common when a younger, more tech knowledgeable person helps out an older friend or relative. Administrative assistants or secretaries can fill out forms the wrong way as well.


There are three other reasons that inaccurate information ends up on a form and extends a background check. The first is that a person inputs an alias (the name they are called) rather than their legal name (such as Bobby vs. Robert).

Beyond that, general typos, such as a number being out of place, or intentionally wrong information (putting down 111-11-1111 as a social security number to trick the system) can also hold up the screening process.

When that happens, someone has to take the time to adjudicate and match the files. Names are important for a criminal background check. Searching for something like Sr. or Jr., initials, or a misspelled name tends to drag out the entire process.


The final reason a criminal background screen can be extended is through regulation. Any state or federal regulations that require the confirmation of cases will take more time than one that does not need that step.

In addition, certain companies require a review if there are certain offenses on an application. If that occurs, the file goes to them and is on their time until they give approval.

Individual assessments, referring to files that pull back records, also take an extra step because they need to be overseen and conducted by the HR department.

Avoiding Common Errors

Every organization seeks to deliver their criminal background checks on time, but issues do arise for different reasons.

Be aware of those issues and know what you can do to avoid them. Not only will that make things easier on you in the immediate, but it also helps the entire process move along at a much quicker pace.

Looking for specific employment background screening or employment verification services? Let Application Verification help you. Contact us at 1-855-581-7875 or (412) 349-6001, or send us a message.


Gladstone, J. (2017, May 04). How Long Does a Background Check Take? Retrieved from https://www.ebiinc.com/resources/blog/how-long-does-a-background-check-take

Green, A. (2017, November 21). Does a Name Change Affect an Employee Background Check? Retrieved from https://info.legalzoom.com/name-change-affect-employee-background-check-25427.html