Job Search & Interview

What To Do While Waiting On A Background Check After A Job Offer  

When you’ve been offered a job, it’s time for a celebration. After a long time hunting for just the right position, you’re finally going to be getting a steady paycheck. But if your job offer carries a contingency with it, you might be in for a little bit of a wait.

Many employers these days are being extra cautious about whom they hire. Background checks have become the norm. And it’s not just large corporations worried that you’ll spill company secrets, either.

Even many small businesses are hiring only on condition that candidates pass a background check. The question is, what should you do while waiting on background check after job offer?

Is a Background Check Done Before Or After a Job Offer?

Running a background check after interview is typically a good sign that a potential employer is seriously considering you for a position. A background check is frequently conducted, either as one of the last steps in the employment process, or after the employer issues an offer.

Background checks cost the company money, and they wouldn’t want to invest that money in someone they’re not even slightly interested in. Because background checks are typically paid for by employers, they are frequently only carried out on applicants who the company is seriously considering hiring.

If A Company Does A Background Check, Are You Hired?

Getting a background check run on you does’t guarantee that you’ll be hired, even if you have no disqualifications in your background report. An employer may decide to ask for background checks from several prospective employees. The results of your background check—even if they are not derogatory—may also affect whether an employer actually makes you an offer.

What if Something Bad is in the Background Report

Then, there is the eventuality that something in your background check isn’t suitable to the employer. In that case, it’s likely that the employer will either revoke a job offer that they’ve presented to you, or they will simply not provide you with a job offer.

Depending upon what’s uncovered, the company may simply send you a form letter or email notifying you that they’ve chosen another candidate, without necessarily disclosing their reasons.

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How Long After Background Check For Offer?

If the company has not made you a formal offer, you’ll need to wait until the results of the background check to even know for sure if you want to work at the company. Job offers usually include more than salary information. They also include information about benefits, such as insurance.

Formal job offers also sometimes (but not always) include certain terms of the job, such as how many vacation days you would be entitled to each year. In short, there are a lot of details in a job offer that you would want to consider before you formally accept the offer.

But how long are you supposed to wait in limbo? Even if the terms of the job have been given to you beforehand, nothing is written in stone until you pass the background check. In other words, you have nothing in your hands that guarantees you a position. What to do?

Figure Out if You Want to Notify Your Current Employer

The first conundrum you’re faced with is whether or not you should notify your current employer. If you do pass the background check, your new employer may want you to start immediately, especially if the background report took a long time to come back.

But if you notify your current employer and then fail the background check, you could sully your relationship with your current boss for nothing.

Of course, if relations were already tense at your current workplace, it might not matter to you if they know you’re making plans to leave.

This is a deeply personal choice that you have to make based on what you know about your financial situation, how likely you think you’ll pass that background check, and much you care about keeping the peace at your current job.

Should You Resign Before Background Check?

When you’ve received a job offer, it can cause a feeling of euphoria. You’re understandably happy about the new future that lies ahead of you. Once you get to thinking about it, you may think this is a good time to take a few days off. You could sneak in a short vacation while you’re waiting for the results of the background check, right? And you wonder “Should I hand in my notice before signing contract?”

The problem with this line of thinking is that you’re assuming you’re guaranteed that new job. You aren’t. There are no guarantees until you are sitting down and signing papers at the new job, or until you’ve gotten a formal, written job offer.

Until that happens, the only job you can be sure of is the one you already have. And even if you really hate it, it pays the bills. You don’t want to put yourself in a position where you’re feeling desperate instead of euphoric. Don’t resign your current job until the results of the background check have been approved and you have a formal job offer in hand.

Exercise Patience

Background checks can take a long time. They may take days or weeks, depending upon how deeply your potential new employer wants to delve into it.

Then you need to factor in the review time. The background check needs to be reviewed by a human, presumably. That human might have a lot of things on their plate and not be able to get to it straight away.

The bottom line is, you need to be patient while waiting for the results, at least on the outside. Don’t pester the company and keep asking if it’s come back yet. This can be misconstrued to seem like you’re worried that something is on there that they won’t like. Just play it cool.


The other thing is, don’t worry about something that you think might turn up. That time you got reprimanded by the police for loitering when you were a teenager probably won’t be on there.

So don’t try to “come clean” with the company and tell on yourself. Just let the chips fall where they may. The fact is, if a company has a policy of not hiring anyone with an arrest on their record, coming clean about it won’t do you any good, anyway.

Finally, don’t lose sleep over something that you’re pretty sure is going to turn up in a background check. Companies have their own criteria for candidates, and they aren’t always looking for what you think they are.

Not everyone has to hire a squeaky clean person just to operate a fork lift in a warehouse, for example. If there is something negative in your background report, it may very well not matter to the company. They might be screening for something entirely different and not give one iota if you were arrested for having unpaid parking tickets five years ago.

What if There’s No Response After Background Check?

Background checks can take a long time, and you do need to be patient about hearing back from the employer. But at the same time, you can’t be waiting forever. If a reasonable amount of time has passed, and you still have no response after background check, you do need to follow up.

When there’s no response after background check after three or four weeks, it’s definitely okay to make a polite telephone call to your contact at the new employer’s company. After making sure you’re speaking to the right person (not just a receptionist), say that you’re just following up on a background check that was done on [insert the date here].

Then, if they say that it is back, it’s also okay to ask when they anticipate making a final decision. That way, you’ll have a timeframe as to what’s going on and how soon you might be starting your new job.

Read More: What to Do With a Background Check Job Title Discrepancy? All You Need to Know

Accepting Job Offer Before Background Check

In some cases, an employer will make you a job offer before background check is done. In that case, the deal is still likely to be contingent upon the results of the background check. What’s important to remember is that, even it that job offer has been presented to you, employers have the right to revoke the job offer at any time before the actual hiring. That’s right. So even when you have an offer in hand, you don’t necessarily have a done deal.

Keep Looking

The safest thing you can do if you are waiting for a background check is to keep looking. Keep applying for jobs and keep interviewing. This will help to ensure that, even if the background check comes back with negative results, even if the employer revokes the job offer, you’ll still be okay.

It is nerve-wracking waiting on background check results. You’re eager to start your new job, but it’s all contingent on this report. Instead of worrying about something you can’t control, take control and make sure you have alternative options in the works.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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