Waiting to hear back from recruiters after interviewing is undeniably one of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of a modern-day job search.
How long should you expect to wait to hear back after a job interview? Why does it take so long to receive an update, and how do politely ask for your interview results? When should you assume you didn’t land the role?
You can experience a lot of nerves and uncertainty after interviewing with a prospective employer and waiting to receive an update regarding your candidacy.
Keep reading to learn how long on average it takes to hear back after an interview, when to check in with the recruiter, and what to include in your follow-up email.
How Long Does It Take To Hear Back After An Interview?
For starters, how long should you expect to wait to hear back on your status after a job interview? While you’ll sometimes know whether you have progressed to the next step during the interview itself, you should typically expect to hear back one to two weeks after each interview.
Note: From start to finish, there can easily be a half-dozen or more stages in a typical hiring process, which may include:
- Application/resume review
- Recruiter interview
- Technical interview
- Hiring manager interview
- Peer interview(s)
- Working interview
- Presentation interview
- Skip-level interview
- HR interview
- Hiring decision
- Salary negotiation
- Offer letter
- Background check
Each of these stages takes time to execute, and the timeframe can vary significantly from company to company, but if you’re looking for a more concrete length of time, recent research from The Josh Bersin Company puts the average time-to-hire rate at just over six weeks.
Since processes and timing can vary dramatically across companies and industries, you’ll want to ask directly at the end of each interview when you can expect to hear back regarding whether you have progressed to the next stage. You can also ask them to outline the hiring steps.
Why Does It Take So Long To Hear Back After An Interview?
Now, why does it often feel like it takes unnecessarily long to hear back after a job interview?
One reason it takes a while to receive an update is that more than just the initial recruiter you interviewed with will likely be involved in deciding if you move to the next stage in the hiring process, which we’ll cover further in a bit. Your potential future boss (the hiring manager), direct reports, cross-functional peers, and HR may all be included in deciding your fate.
Another factor in it taking several weeks to hear back after an interview is what’s going on at the company, which we’ll also cover further in the next section. For instance, if the decision-makers are working on a big project, or they’re in and out of the office due to the holidays, there might be a delay before hearing back.
Also, job searching can be incredibly stressful, particularly if you’re unemployed or in a toxic work environment, so waiting to hear back can feel like it’s dragging on forever.
Factors That Impact How Long It Takes To Hear Back After An Interview
Several factors can impact how long it will take to hear back after your interview, including your stage in the process, the number of decision-makers, the role you’re interviewing for, and the time of year.
1. Your stage in the hiring process.
For starters, your stage in the hiring process is often a major determinant in how long it will take to hear back after an interview. Waiting to hear back after interviewing with the recruiter, for instance, will look different than waiting on a final hiring decision.
Consider the fact that moving to the next round in the interview process often only requires the sign-off of one or two people, while extending a job offer can necessitate the approval of multiple departments.
2. The number of decision-makers.
Similarly, the number of decision-makers often grows the further along you are in the interview process. Determining who makes it past the screening interview typically involves just the recruiter and perhaps the hiring manager.
As you progress through the interview process, however, there will likely be additional decision-makers, as well as increased feedback to synthesize, which can significantly increase the length of time between each subsequent stage of the interview process.
To put it simply, don’t be surprised if it takes a week or more before you receive an offer letter after your final meeting. This is normal and nothing to be nervous about.
3. The role you’re interviewing for.
Another major factor impacting how long it will take to hear back after an interview is the role itself. Both technical and executive roles often have lengthier interview processes, as there tends to be additional rounds of interviews. When it comes to executive roles, aligning schedules can be a challenge, which can prolong the process.
While it can feel agonizing, a senior manager or executive-level interview process can easily extend to multiple months. This is particularly true during certain times of the year.
4. The time of year.
Speaking of which, the time of year can play a significant role in the hiring timeline. If the company is experiencing rapid growth or has a new initiative on the horizon, it may choose to expedite hiring decisions. Conversely, if the company is experiencing sluggish sales, it may deprioritize hiring.
Generally speaking, the holidays tend to be a slower time of year for hiring, so you can expect recruiters and hiring managers to take a bit longer to get back to you. That said, some companies specifically ramp up hiring during the holidays, so it’s important to consider the nuances of your industry and the specific company.
When To Follow Up After An Interview
So when should you follow up after an interview? You’ll want to begin by sending a concise yet impactful thank you email after each interview, since it’s an easy way to stand out in today’s saturated job market.
Then, if the originally provided timeline to hear back has passed, you can follow up. Or if you forgot to ask for a timeline, and it’s been more than a week since your interview, you can ask for an update.
Please remember that the typical recruiter is often juggling 20 to 40 job requisitions, so don’t feel bad checking in on the status of your candidacy.
How Do You Politely Ask For Interview Results?
Although easier said than done, you want to try to avoid overthinking asking for an update on your interview results. Importantly, you want to keep your outreach email short and to the point with a clear call-to-action (CTA) such as, “Please let me know if there’s anything you need from me to facilitate your decision-making process.”
Email Template To Follow Up On Interview Results
I provide sample email templates for asking for an update on your interview status in this article for Business Insider, this article for the New York Post, and this article for NerdWallet. You’ll notice that they’re all short and to the point, which is key when interacting with busy recruiters and hiring managers.
When Should I Assume I Didn’t Get The Job?
Don’t count yourself out until you’ve heard back from the company, as some recruiters and hiring managers will get back to candidates months after interviewing them with next steps or a job offer. However, you’ll want to ask yourself whether you want to work for a company that takes this long to make a hiring decision and keeps you out of the loop.
Please know that the right job is out there for you, and it’s only a matter of time before you land it. You’ve got this!
A version of this article first appeared on the Career Tool Belt blog with the title, “How Long Does It Take To Hear Back After an Interview?”