How Long Does It Take to Hear Back After a Job Interview?

So, you had the big interview. You prepared well and had a great conversation. They said they’d be in touch very soon. But they haven’t called yet. You are convinced you got the job.

You go home and wait for the phone to ring. And wait. And wait…

When it does not ring within 24 hours, you start to wonder what is going on? Don’t panic! You may be out of the running, but you may not.

What Is Going on After Your Job Interview?

There are many reasons why the phone has not rung within 24 hours. The employer has a lot to do behind the scenes after your interview.

For example:

  • If you interviewed early in the process, you are likely one of the first candidates to be considered. Companies rarely select a candidate without alternatives to compare to.
  • Although the candidate selection outcome is probably at the forefront of your mind, it is likely to be a lower priority for the employer’s organization. After all, they have today’s burning issues to resolve.
  • The candidate selection process is important to the employer, but it can usually wait a day or two (or more) without an impact as higher priorities are handled.
  • Many companies have a process in which all members of the team who interviewed you must come to consensus on all candidates. Scheduling a time for all of them to meet can sometimes be difficult.
  • Putting together an offer can take time if many approvals are necessary.

Instead of worrying about what’s going on, think about things within your control.

When to Follow Up After Your Job Interview and What You Should Be Doing

For this opportunity:

  • Send out thank you notes to all interviewers.

    Always send a thank you note or email. If you think the regular mail will not arrive fast enough, send email.

  • If working with an external recruiter, discuss the pros and cons of the opportunity.

    If you are working with an external recruiter (one who recruits on behalf of a company, but is not an employee), you may have an advantage. They may have information and insight based on discussions with the employer’s staff.

    External recruiters are usually motivated to help you land the job because, often, they get paid when you — or someone else they referred — are hired.

    You might find through a follow-up discussion that the negatives about the job or the organization you first identified are not as critical as you thought. And, that the positives might have more benefits associated with them.

    The beauty of working with an external recruiter is they may know the client better than you and can help sort through your observations and opinions about the team. Additionally, the recruiter can provide an objective perspective based on their own experiences with the company.

  • Weigh alternatives.  

    Whatever methodology you use, start thinking about this opportunity versus others (or your ideal opportunity).

    Do your research, and determine if you have any major reservations to taking an offer if one is made.

    Although it is premature, since no offer has been made, you should be prepared to talk to your recruiter about your requirements for an offer (when the recruiter asks for them).

    Be sure to clarify specific deal-breaker items from the ones you can be flexible about.

  • Communicate activity on other job offers.  

    Hopefully, if you are working with an external recruiter, you and your recruiter have been communicating throughout the process about other opportunities. At this stage, it is even more critical.

    The external recruiter needs to know if you have other opportunities that may reach an offer stage soon.

    Armed with that information, they may be able to move the process along with their client. Similarly, if you would like to slow the process down to let another opportunity catch up, the recruiter should know.

Keep your job search efforts moving forward, on this and other opportunities. Continue interviewing and networking.

What You Should Not Be Doing

Serious mistakes may be made while waiting for this job offer to appear, which include:

  • Quitting your current job or your job search.  

    No matter what you are told during the interview, until there is an offer in writing and both parties sign it, there is no job.

    Many hiccups can occur at the end of the process. It may sound like common sense, but there are stories galore on this one.

  • Negotiating with your current employer.  

    In most cases, when someone decides to leave their current employer, they should actually leave.

    Having second thoughts and negotiating for more pay is not recommended.

    Many managers will not appreciate having an ultimatum thrust at them, “more pay or I leave.”  Even if an agreement is made, often times, it is short-lived and the employee leaves later.

  • Calling the recruiter every day for an update.

    The recruiter will call you as soon as there is news to share, typically only after an offer is accepted by another candidate or one is coming your way.

    Until then, everything is still up in the air and anything can happen. Recruiters don’t like to spend time hypothesizing what might happen. They wait until something concrete does happen.

    With this in mind, asking the external recruiter where you rank relative to the other candidates is also not recommended. If the recruiter did a good job presenting only the best, then it would be hard to answer your question. Plus, there could be candidates in the mix that the recruiter does not know about.

The Bottom Line on Hearing Back After a Job Interview

Stay focused on the positives, and be prepared for any outcome. If you have done your best to have a great interview and you truly are the ideal candidate for the job, the phone will ring.

For More Information About What to Do After a Job Interview:

Jeff LipschultzAbout the author…

Job-Hunt’s Working with Recruiters Expert Jeff Lipschultz is a 20+ year veteran in management, hiring, and recruiting of all types of business and technical professionals. He has worked in industries ranging from telecom to transportation to dotcom. Jeff is a founding partner of A-List Solutions, a Dallas-based recruiting and employment consulting company. Learn more about him through his company site Follow Jeff on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@JLipschultz).
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