A reader writes:
There is this company that I have wanted to work for since I got into the work I do now. I finally had the experience to apply and have done so and I also was referred highly by a current employee. I was contacted fairly quickly for a phone interview and then a few days later for a face to face interview. I had my interview on July 1 and felt it went really well. I met with all managers and the lead. I was told that they may have an extended interview process of a few weeks, but they would let me know either way.
About a week later, I received an email from the HR manager following up with how the interview went and to let me know they are still in the process of conducting interviews but that I would be informed when final decisions are made. I responded with how it went and my interest in the position, as well as how I felt I was an excellent fit based on what I learned during my interview.
Almost two weeks later and three weeks after my interview, I sent the HR manager a quick email to follow up and see if there were any updates, and stressed again my interest in the position.
I still have not heard anything back from either email. I passed the tests and felt everything went well. I even turned down another job offer because I was waiting to hear about this job and the other employer needed an answer after giving me a week due to the circumstances.
My current job is becoming worse by the day and I would really like to leave as soon as possible. How long is too long? l feel like I am being strung along because I have not received any updates, even just to say they are still conducting interviews. My referral on the inside did say they are looking to hiring multiple people within the next few months. Do I just wait it out or take the next job offer I hope to get? This company is my first choice. How long can it take to hear back after an interview?
It can take a long time. Some employers move very quickly, and others move very slowly. People have been hired three hours or three months (or more) after interviewing. Moreover, hiring nearly always takes longer than employers expect it will; you should generally double or triple whatever timeline they give you. (That’s because higher priorities come up, decision-makers go out of town, scheduling conflicts make it hard to schedule interviews, budget questions need to be ironed out, and all sorts of other complications.)
It doesn’t particularly sound like this company is stringing you along. They told you clearly that they expected an “extended interview process.” They don’t really owe you updates throughout the process; they were polite enough to reach out and give you one after a week, but lots of employers don’t provide ongoing updates throughout the process. It’s polite and appreciated when they do, of course, but HR people and hiring managers usually have lots of competing priorities, and it frequently results in follow-up emails from candidates being pushed to the back burner.
I think I’m hearing in your letter that you’re assuming that since your interview went well, you have a high likelihood of being offered the job (so much so that you turned down another offer). Be careful not to assume that. Even if you did the best interview of your life, someone else still might end up being a stronger fit, for reasons that are close to impossible to predict from the outside.
If you get another offer, you can contact this first company and let them know that you have a pending offer but would prefer to work for them and that you have X days before need to get back to the company that made you the offer, and ask if they’re able to give you an expedited decision. If they won’t, that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t make you an offer eventually — but it does mean that they’re not jumping to hire you, even when they know it means they might lose you entirely, which is worth factoring into your thinking. (It could also be possible that it’s not about you at all; it could be that they’re working out a budget issue or some internal restructure, or who knows. But a good company would explain that if it were the case.)
Anyway, at that point you’d need to decide between the certain job offer and one that may or may not ever materialize. Whether or not to gamble on the latter depends on how badly you need a job, how you’d feel if you turned down the offer and the one you want more never materializes, and how much you do or don’t want the offer that you have.