Whether you just came off a job interview or it’s been several days since, the anxiety of waiting for a decision can be a lot to handle.
What’s a typical wait time to hear back after an interview? What does it mean if you’ve been waiting longer than that? And what should you do to rescue the situation if nobody contacts you?
We’ll answer all those questions and more in this article.
How Long Should You Expect to Wait After an Interview?
Phrased differently: How long after an interview should you follow up?
Most recruiters and hiring managers will typically aim to update you within a week of their interview.
With that being said, the actual timeline is a lot more varied.
In some cases, especially if the interview took place earlier in the week, you could hear back within a few days, or sometimes the very next day after your interview.
In other cases, especially where there are a high number of candidates interviewing for the position, you might hear back two or even three weeks after your interview.
As a general rule, though, a week is a reasonable amount of time to wait for a response before hitting the panic button.
What About After a Second or Third Interview?
Being invited to a second or third job interview means you already showed promise in your first interview, not to mention fewer candidates will be up for consideration.
In other words, your chances of getting the job are inherently higher, which means you can probably be a little more lenient on the one-week timeframe, if only by a few more days.
What About After a Phone Interview?
While phone interviews are a completely different type of job interview experience, they mostly follow the same timeline as an in-person interview when it comes to hearing back.
If you think about it, the interviewer still has to go through the same candidate selection process, the same interview questions, and the same post-interview evaluation process.
Why Does It Take So Long to Hear Back?
It doesn’t help to dwell on reasons for not hearing back from your job interview, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting to know, right?
Here are the likely reasons the recruiter or hiring manager still hasn’t got back to you, going from best-case to worst-case scenario:
- They’re just busy. Whether it’s being buried in meetings or dealing with personal issues, some people just have a habit of biting off more than they can chew.
- They simply forgot. Sometimes, a new hire isn’t a priority and pending candidates just get forgotten about for a while. This happens more than you think.
- They’re still interviewing. Some jobs receive an abnormally high number of applicants and it can take some time to go through and interview all of the the potentials. Sometimes several weeks.
- The opening was put on hold. In rare cases, hiring managers put a job opening on hold after the interview stages. This could be due to anything from budget restrictions to company restructuring.
- You weren’t successful. Let’s not beat around the bush, there’s also a chance you made a mistake in your interview and just didn’t get the job. Not all employers will notify you, either, even if they said they would.
What If You Don’t Hear Back After a Week?
I’ll be honest, it’s not a good sign.
That’s not to say you definitely didn’t get the job, you still might. It’s just a less likely outcome the more time passes, particularly once you cross the one-week mark, and even more so after a first interview.
Again, if your interview went well, it’s entirely possible the recruiter or hiring manager is busy with work, forgot to reach out, is still tied up in the interview stages, or just put the job opening on hold.
The reality is, it’s impossible to know why you haven’t heard back from your job interview until you reach out and ask.
What to Do Before Following Up
Before we talk about how to follow up, the first thing you should do is make double sure you haven’t already had a reply.
While this might sound silly, it’s entirely possible you did get an answer from your interviewer and you somehow just missed it.
Maybe they reached out by email or physical mail when you were expecting a phone call, or perhaps you checked the wrong inbox or the email went to your spam/junk folder.
Whatever the case, it’s important you give one final look over all channels to avoid making yourself look silly.
How to Follow Up After an Interview
You’re 100% positive you didn’t get a reply? Well then, strap yourself in because it’s time to engage in operation follow-up:
1. Pick the Right Channel
Now, the channel you use to follow up is just as important as what you say, if not more so.
What I mean is, if your prospective employer used email throughout most of your communication thus far, it’s a good idea to send your follow-up message through email, too — at least for the first follow-up.
This will increase the chances your follow-up will be seen and ultimately responded to.
2. Say the Right Thing
The goal of a follow up isn’t to give the interviewer a hard time about not getting back to you, it’s to:
- Find out the status of the job opening.
- Get yourself back on their radar.
In order to achieve both of these things, you need to be strategic with what you say and how you say it.
Here’s a script you can adapt:
“Hello Mr. Thomas, I hope you are well. I interviewed with you last week for the management position and I’m just wondering if a decision was made yet? Please let me know if there’s anything else you need from me. Thank you.”
While it’s tempting to push a little harder in your follow-up, it’s important not to come across as desperate or bossy. Keep it concise, and maintain a friendly but professional tone.
3. Allow Enough Time
After your first follow-up, you should give them enough time to respond before attempting to follow up again.
If you followed up by phone and didn’t get a call back, you’ll want to allow 2-3 working days before calling a second time. After that, it’s likely the message wasn’t passed on or they simply forgot.
If you followed up by email, you’ll want to allow 3-5 working days before sending another email, or, you might even consider calling them instead — assuming you have a phone number to call.
Hard Truth: You May Never Hear Back
In many cases, especially if you were unsuccessful, interviewers will make up a story or simply not get back to you.
I know, it sucks. People suck. That’s just how it goes in the job-hunting world.
That’s why it’s important not to get hung up on why you can’t get a job, and spend that mental energy on filling up your pipeline with more applications and more interviews. It’s a numbers game.
So keep pushing, keep applying!