How Long Do Pre-Employment Checks Take?

It’s common for employers to carry out routine checks before offering a candidate the role they’ve applied for. So, if you’re currently in this position, you may be wondering what to expect and how long the checks will take. 

First thing you need to know is the duration of pre-employment checks can vary widely depending on several factors, including the company's hiring process, the extent of the checks being conducted, the responsiveness of the references and institutions involved and any unforeseen complications that may arise.

What can be included in pre-employment checks?

Basic Checks

Basic pre-employment checks, such as criminal background checks and reference checks may take a few days to a week, assuming that the references and databases being checked provide timely responses.

Education and Employment Verification

Verifying education credentials and employment history can take longer, especially if there are delays in receiving responses from schools or past employers. This process might take a week or two or even longer if there are challenges when contacting the relevant institutions.

Drug Testing

If drug testing is part of the pre-employment process, the actual testing might be done relatively quickly, but the results could take a few days to process, depending on the lab's workload.

Security Clearance or Specialised Checks

For jobs that require security clearances or specialised background checks, the process can take several weeks or even months. This involves a thorough investigation into an applicant's history, associations and other relevant factors. 

For example, individuals that need access to government assets must have BPSS clearance

International Checks

If an applicant has an international background, verifying credentials from foreign institutions or conducting checks in other countries can significantly lengthen the process due to potential language barriers, time zone differences and variations in record-keeping practices.

How Long Do Checks Take?

It's important to note that while some checks may be completed quickly, the entire process might be extended if there are any complications or if the company is dealing with a large number of applicants. 

Delays can occur due to various reasons, such as a slow response from references or institutions, discrepancies in the information provided by the candidate or administrative issues within the hiring organisation.

Also, you need to keep in mind that different companies have different internal processes for conducting pre-employment checks. Some may prioritise speed, while others may prioritise thoroughness, impacting the overall timeline.

If you're waiting for the results of pre-employment checks, it's a good idea to communicate with the hiring team to get an estimate of the expected timeline and to express your continued interest in the position.

With that being said, the usual timeline for checks to be completed is around 2 to 4 weeks.

What Can Be Done To Speed Up The Process?

While you may not have direct control over the entire pre-employment check process, there are several steps you can take to potentially speed up the process and ensure that you're providing the necessary information and cooperation:

Provide Accurate and Complete Information

Ensure that you provide accurate and complete information on your application and any required forms. Any discrepancies or missing details can lead to delays.

Promptly Return Forms and Documents

If the company requires you to fill out forms, provide references or submit documents, do so as quickly as possible. Delaying this step can slow down the entire process.

Communicate Clearly

If there's any issue or delay on your end (e.g., you're waiting for a reference to respond), communicate this to the hiring team. Transparency can help them understand the situation and potentially adjust their expectations.

Coordinate with References

Let your references know in advance that they might be contacted. This can give them a heads-up and make them more likely to respond promptly.

Check Your Email and Phone

Keep an eye on your email and phone for any messages or inquiries from the hiring team. Quick responses from your end can prevent unnecessary delays.

Respond to Requests Quickly

If the company contacts you with additional requests for information or clarification, respond as soon as possible. Delays in your response can lead to a longer overall process.

Stay Organised

Keep track of all the documents and information you've provided, as well as any correspondence with the hiring team. This can help you respond quickly to any inquiries and prevent any misunderstandings.

Follow Up Politely

If the process seems to be taking longer than expected, it's okay to politely follow up with the hiring team to inquire about the status of your application and the pre-employment checks. Just be sure to do so professionally and without putting pressure on them.

Ask About the Timeline

During the interview or hiring process, you can inquire about the typical timeline for pre-employment checks. This can give you an idea of what to expect and allow you to adjust your expectations accordingly.

Be Patient

While you can take steps to help expedite the process, keep in mind that certain checks might still take time due to factors beyond your control. Being patient and understanding can go a long way in maintaining a positive impression with the hiring team.


Remember that pre-employment checks are conducted to ensure that the company is making informed and responsible hiring decisions. While you can do your part to speed up the process, there may still be aspects that are outside of your control.