How Long Does it Take to Hear Back From a Job Interview? (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 21, 2022
Published July 26, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Knowing whether you've been successful in hiring might take a variable amount of time. Candidates in this situation may be ready to wait as long as it takes, while some may follow up for an answer. Following up after an interview is good practice, but you need to give employers enough time to reach out to you first. In this article, we discuss the typical hiring process, cover how long you should wait for a response after an interview, explain why it may take longer to receive a response and offer tips for following up after an interview.
How long does it take to hear back from a job interview?
It's advisable to give interviewers at least five to seven business days to contact you after the day of the interview. For instance, if you interview on a Monday, wait until Tuesday of the following week to send a follow-up. If there's a weekend or bank holiday in between, you may have to wait longer, as interviewers may be out of the office. You can also make content with your interviewer even sooner after the interview by sending a thank-you email the following day.
Regardless of whether you're successful, some companies send messages informing the candidates how the process went. This is to allow them to move on with their job search or inform the new hires to learn about the next steps in the hiring process.
Read more: Job Interview Thank-You Letters
The hiring process
Every hiring organization has its own unique process for hiring new employees. Understanding the hiring process is critical to appreciate how long it takes to hear from a job interview. Typically, the process begins with a job posting or advertisement to which candidates respond by sending their resume and cover letter or application. The hiring manager then reviews the applications, and shortlists top candidates. The hiring manager or interviewer then emails or calls candidates to invite them to interview.
There are several styles of interviews, and they can take place in offices, or in casual settings like restaurants or cafés. Virtual interviews are becoming increasingly popular as well. Some companies receive thousands of applications from qualified candidates, which makes the hiring process even more complex. Despite the use of applicantion tracking systems (ATS), manual sorting of applications is still in use by many companies particularly small and medium businesses that don't have the capacity to install these systems.
Factors that delay interview response
Here are the primary factors that influence how long it takes to hear back from a job interview:
If interviews are ongoing
When you attend an interview, there are probably other candidates on the interview list before or after you. For instance, if a position had 20 candidates on the shortlist, it wouldn't be possible to interview all the candidates in two or three days. The interview panel may choose to interview at least two candidates per day to give them time to manage their other responsibilities. This then elongates the process to at least 10 days.
Hiring managers are likely to maintain silence until all the candidates have had a chance to attend the interview. This allows for fair scoring of every candidate. If you haven't heard from the company, it's possible the interview process is yet to be completed.
If the team requires input from many people
The hiring process is not an exclusive domain of the human resource department. It involves several people within the department and potentially other departments, too. After the interview, the input of other stakeholders may be necessary to ensure the selected candidate represents the best fit for the position. Approval may further delay if the requisite person is unavailable either through illness, vacation, or unexpectedly engaged in urgent matters.
If the search is paused
The hiring company may have the best intention of filling the open position fast. However, because of unforeseen events, the search may pause until a later date or be called off altogether. This may be due to several factors such as a shift in government policy, budget cuts, or economic upheavals.
If there are internal handicaps
The hiring process is complex and may stretch the ability of the HR department, especially if the department is understaffed or underfunded. The search for the best candidate may take longer than usual as the HR staff tries to perform their routine responsibilities of selecting and contacting candidates.
If they're preparing for the next round of interviews
Occasionally, a position will be filled after several rounds of interviews. After the first round, deciding who gets invited for further rounds may involve meetings, discussions and haggling which may end up delaying the response. If you are yet to hear a response, they may be in the process of preparing to interview additional candidates.
If they're running background checks
Some companies have a standing policy of conducting comprehensive background checks on all potential hires. They do this by checking the criminal records of candidates, contacting previous employers and waiting to hear from candidates' references. Sometimes the employers and references may delay sending their replies, hence prolonging the hiring process. The more candidates, the longer you may have to wait for the interview response.
If they're preparing job offers
Companies may delay their interview response if the process of preparing a job offer takes longer than usual. The process may require input from key personnel and the board of directors. The job offer entails details such as job title, job description, and compensation plan. These are sensitive details that a company may not rush to avoid creating internal discontent or altering the pay structure. In summary, companies need time to prepare a suitable job offer and ensure that they have the best candidate for the job.
If they're negotiating with another candidate
Employers may delay giving interview responses to job candidates as they attempt to seal a deal with the best candidate. Until both parties agree, a response may be a long in waiting. If they eventually don't come to a consensus, the hiring manager may contact another candidate with a job offer.
If there are restructures
An employer's decision to restructure a role may lead to them taking longer to give interview responses to candidates. A sudden drop in profits or decline in business may cause job restructuring, making it impossible for the company to afford to fill the job. As a result, they may restructure the job to an affordable option. Job restructuring may also delay an interview response if an increase in profits forces the company to make multiple offers or change the job to a higher level.
A company may also restructure a job if they haven't found the best fit for the position, or there's a change in management for that department. The recruiter may decide to wait longer for the department's restructuring to settle before hiring the perfect candidate.
Tips for following up after an interview
Here are useful tips for following up after an interview:
Observe set timelines
Be patient and wait for the timeline set by the hiring manager before making any follow-up. If the recruiter promised to communicate within three weeks, wait for the time to lapse. Sending emails or making telephone calls when the timeline is still running may portray you as impatient.
Read more: 17 Interview Tips to Help You Get the Job
Allow for five business days
Occasionally, you may not be given a timeline or date to expect a response. In such scenarios, allow the recruiter at least five to seven business days before contacting them to follow up. It's good practice to wait this amount of time or longer.
Send a follow-up email
After allowing at least a week since the interview, you can now email asking when you are likely to receive a response. Be positive and use a professional tone throughout to avoid jeopardizing your chances. Write a precise subject line and start the email by introducing yourself and thanking the interviewer for the opportunity to attend the interview. Ask how soon you may expect a response. Include your contact information at the end of the email.
Wait for a reply to your follow-up
After emailing, allow the recruiter time to respond. Sometimes the hiring manager may not have a ready answer since the hiring process is multifaceted. The answer to your email may lay somewhere else and all the recruiter has to do is wait for the process to finish. Hiring managers are busy, and there's a chance you won't receive a reply.
Continue with your job search
If you haven't heard from the recruiter even after sending a follow-up email, you should move on with your job search. You may also receive an email informing you were unsuccessful. You may have done well in the interview, but other candidates may have had other advantages. Continue to search for interesting job postings and apply for other opportunities.
Explore more articles
- "What Aspects of the Opportunity Appeal to You the Most?"
- The Importance of Interview Practise (And How to Do It)
- SQL Join Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
- 17 Employer Interviewing Questions: What to Ask About the Job and the Company
- Preparing for a Mock Interview (With Benefits)
- 13 Nursing Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
- 12 Sales Manager Interview Questions (With Tips and Examples)
- How To Respond to “Tell Me About a Time You Failed”
- 5 Probationary Review Questions (Including Sample Answers)
- 37 Business Development Representative Interview Questions
- Interview Questions for a Pastry Chef (With Sample Answers)
- How to Answer “Why Do You Want to Work from Home?”