how long can it take to hear back after a job interview?

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.

{ 119 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    Yeah, I got hired on “quickly” at my current job at a F50 company…and it was a month between initial application and first day. And I was already a contractor there, so I wasn’t a completely unknown quantity.

    It’s a slow process. :(

    1. Hotstreak*

      Yes, there can be such a big difference between the applicant and company’s idea of how long “quickly” really means!

      1. BRR*

        With such a difference in what quickly means, the phrase “extended interview process” concerns me.

        1. dith*

          Hi. I just want to ask also your ipinion. I just had a job interview last aug 16 and I wasnt expecting to be interviewed to pass 1st and 2nd then there was 3rd so I was wondering maybe I might nailed this one then they said there is still a last interview so that was the boss again hoping it would be the last round (4rounds of interview). After that the 4th one I was advice to take the mefical exam then ill just wait. I heard frm the hr telling me that they are conducting background check aftr a week last tues They said that they just have to finalize the documents and its juat gonna be days countings. So maybe 1week almost pass Sorth off worry that anything can happen I might or might not hear from them I dont know if I have to call then after this week? Or just wait…prolonging the agony…

    2. JMegan*

      For my current job it was two months between sending the application and receiving the offer, and I thought that was super-fast! It really is all relative, and depends on so many factors that job searchers don’t even know about, let alone control.

      OP, also don’t forget that it’s summer (at least in the northern hemisphere), and pretty much everything takes longer during the summer due to vacations and so on. Alison’s last two paragraphs are excellent. Good luck in your search!

    3. BRR*

      I was “quick” applying in late-January and starting mid-June. We hired for another position on my team and I believe originally posted in February and the person started in November.

      So when a company tells you it’s an “extended interview process,” I would count my time on a calendar, not a watch.

      To the OP, you have to weight the risk of rejecting offers if you hate your job and holding out for this one (which is not a guarantee, it’s never a guarantee). I tend to lean towards not falling in love with a particular employer.

    4. Honeybee*

      Yeah, I applied for my new job on May 18* and got the offer July 3. So almost 2 months between application and offer. It was a “long” process, but I’m coming out of academia so it seemed short/fast to me.

      *I am a dork, so I kept a spreadsheet of jobs I applied for and when. But it’s because I didn’t want to forget where I had already applied!

      1. Cupcake*

        Hey, that’s not being a dork: it’s called being smart and organized. I did the same thing, tracking all jobs applied to over an 18 month period. Mine had info about when and where the ad was posted, if I got a response, names and dates of everyone I spoke/contact with, login and password details to sites that required me to set up an “applicant account”, and notes about the interview process, including how long it took me to hear back from people.

        I started to notice patterns with jobs in certain industries re their response times and that certain jobs were continually being reposted during that same 18 month period. This list came in very handy, so I didn’t end up applying multiple times to the same job.

        My current job from posting to start date only took 8 weeks, the shortest I’ve ever had. The longest was 7 months and I’m not a high level or managerial employee.

    5. CanadianDot*

      Where I work now, it was about a month between the verbal offer and the actual in-writing offer… Longest. Month. Ever.

    6. Stephanie*

      I’ll also add this was a job where I got a call from HR two hours after I applied. So I used this scenario when my friend was talking about leaving his current job with nothing lined up. I was like “So, I went about 6 weeks between applying and getting my first paycheck. And that was a better-than-average case scenario. Just make sure you can swing that…”

  2. K*

    I once had a company take almost two months to get back to me (with an automated rejection e-mail) after saying they were looking to hire somebody ASAP.

    1. Sascha*

      Same here! I received an automated rejection email in April for a job I applied for in October.

      1. K*

        Curious – was this after interviewing as well? Mine was after they spent a whole day interviewing me.

        1. Sascha*

          No, I never got an interview or a call or anything. That really sucks though! I wasn’t too bothered since I hadn’t spent any time on it other than the app, but if I spent the whole day interviewing, I’d be annoyed it took them that long.

    2. Artemesia*

      One nasty habit that companies have is to not send reject emails until they have completed hiring even though of course they will have narrowed the field much earlier. I had a boss who never wanted us to send the kiss offs until we had a signed contract and that took months. Yet we had immediately deep sixed about half of the applications as not a fit and winnowed the remaining half down to about a dozen quite quickly. From there it was slow with phone interviews, in person interviews that took time to schedule and then slow approval processes. So we kept over 100 people who were rejected immediately, hanging for months. Bad practice. I was able to convince the next boss that we needed to send rejections immediately to those who were clearly not going to be seriously considered. You can make the argument that you might want to go back to the pool of the final dozen — or even the top half — but those immediately culled need to be given word.

      1. Lia*

        I work in higher ed, and this has been the policy at every institution I have worked for. Here, we do not send the rejection email until the new hire’s FIRST DAY, which can be months later. Sigh.

        1. Ad Astra*

          And, in small enough circles, there’s a decent chance some of the applicants will discover they didn’t get the job when the new hire announces her big news on social media or wherever. That’s happened to me twice with the same company, years apart. Both times, they hired one of my college classmates and sent me an automated rejection email about 24 hours after I heard the news elsewhere.

        2. over education and underemployed*

          Last year I got a rejection for an academic job I’d applied for after the beginning of the school year when it was supposed to start! I was like “thanks, but I figured it out already….”

      2. Oryx*

        I’ve seen this happen in higher ed and it’s so frustrating, not the least of which because higher ed job hiring process can take close to half a year so as an applicant you’re never sure if you haven’t heard because you’ve been nixed or because they are still in the process.

    3. einahpets*

      Yeah, I had a company that had me go through two in person interviews (one was an all day affair that included me presenting for an hour on a journal article they had picked)… and then responded to my polite thank you email to say the decision would be made ASAP… and then I received an automated rejection email two months late.

      I was miserable for about a week after that first email waiting for some decision, but afterwards realized it was probably not the culture / company for me. By the time the automated rejection email came I had moved on.

  3. CJ*

    This is good timing for me. I have an interview tomorrow for 1 out of 2 jobs I’ve applied for in the last 5 years. I really like my current job, but this upcoming opportunity was too good to pass up. However, I’m known for easily letting something like this just consume me. I have such a hard time just letting go of something and putting it in the back of my mind.

    Of course, this potential is at a huge university and it has taken them a month to get to the first interviews…so things aren’t looking good for a quick hiring decision.

    1. Vanishing Girl*

      Universities are notorious for slow hiring decisions. This is to be expected. I’ve seen it take 2-3 months just to get to interviews. Good luck!

    2. Chris B*

      I’ve been on search committees for universities, and it can take forever. A search might be extended after the first round of in-person interviews, and I don’t think they always let interviewees know. Then there’s the many layers: search committee > department head > dean of the school > HR > Provost’s office. Factor in a background check and vacations, and you’ve got a long process.

  4. Sammie*

    My current employer took 6 months to hire me. Oldjob made me an offer before I left the building on the day of the interview.

    1. AMG*

      Mine took 8 months and it’s the best job I have ever had. I know now that they were so slammed that they had to focus on urgent items before they could get to hiring me.

  5. Rachel8489*

    This is so true to my current situation: plenty of interviews with folks who say they want to hire quickly, and then silence. It sucks, and there’s basically nothing I can do about it except hope that they make their freaking decision soon. I’m going on two or three months without a rejection in some cases, and while I assume they aren’t hiring me, who knows??

  6. Decimus*

    I once was hired for a job over FIVE months past my interview. I was interviewed in early June, and it went reasonably well. I was told there would be a follow-up second interview (with the next-level up person) and they’d let me know. A week later I was told that person got busy so things were delayed. Then they re-listed the job and I sent in a short email saying if I was still in the running I remained interested and available, and I was told there were delays. Then nothing.

    Finally right before Thanksgiving – the end of November – they call me up and tell me they want to hire me. The second interview never happened. The job turned out to absolutely suck. But it can take a long time, sometimes.

    1. College Career Counselor*

      My personal record is 10 months between application being sent in and offer being made. Yes, it was higher ed, and there were extenuating circumstances (that I wasn’t initially privy to). But that turned out to be a great job. My most recent position went almost 5 months between application and offer. (It was a solid 4 months between application and interview)

  7. Adonday Veeah*

    Please, please, please do NOT wait for this company. Any number of things can happen, from them deciding to cancel the position to the President wanting to put his wife’s cousin’s son in the position.

    And, this is something that many people don’t think about, a company can look great from the outside but be truly crappy to work in. You’ve turned down a perfectly good opportunity that could have moved you out of a job you are currently very unhappy with, and you have no guarantee that this “golden” company will be any better.

    I’m not saying that you shouldn’t aspire to work there. And while they are completely in charge of the recruitment process for the job you’ve applied for, you should not allow them to manage your career. Keep them as a prospect, but find other opportunities for yourself. If they don’t hire you for this position, they may find you more attractive in a few years with some additional/different experience under your belt.

    1. BRR*

      Seconding do not wait. Perfectly find when you have an offer to do what Alison says but Adonday put it perfectly with “while they are completely in charge of the recruitment process for the job you’ve applied for, you should not allow them to manage your career.”

    2. G. Sanders*

      I soley agree with your statement I was just telling a colleague today not to put all her eggs in one basket. If you think you are miserable with your current employer, in many cases people jump from the pot to the frying pan. What I say about all these employers different faces same people.

      Unless you are working for yourself are a positive environment all these careers are going to have pros & cons to them. But I would tread likely…..because its probably best you stay where you are for more experience misery & all and please for the love of christ donot pass up another awesome opportunity like you did before already assuming you have the position. I have nailed interviews hands down and just knew I had them in the bag and didnt get it and others interviews where I was like oh that didnt go as I thought they offered it. So definately dont sell yourself short.

      As I tell everyone at the end of the day you are working for someone else and not yourself so tread likely. All jobs are gravy in the beginning as I like to call the honey moon phase. Best of luck

  8. Suzanne*

    My daughter once had 3 interviews over the course of a month or so, was told she was one of two finalists, but that one of the decision makers was out of town. After a month or two of hearing nothing, they contacted her and said they had put hiring for the position on hold indefinitely. So it can take a long time & then still not happen.

    1. Stranger than fiction*

      Yep Ive had something similar happen I thought I was so close to being hired (I’d actually worked there before) and suddenly they went silent. Eventually I asked a former coworker that still worked there and she said they had closed a specific division and they had dropped all job requisitions

  9. LaraW*

    My husband interviewed for a job in July of 2003 (I remember this clearly because he met me at the hospital for a 20-week ultrasound where we saw our daughter for the first time). He never heard back and figured he didn’t get the job, but got a call in late 2003 and had a phone conversation (not sure I’d call it an “interview” since he’d already done that) from the same company. He didn’t hear back, and again didn’t know what to think about the status of that. Then, in early May (or late April) he got an email over the weekend asking him if he was still looking and if so, could he call. He called on Monday, and had a meeting set up at the other office for late that same afternoon. He got the offer at that meeting, and gave his notice the next day. It took 10 months from start to finish for him to get that offer. Crazy, but it was a small architecture firm, and I think that the owner wanted to make sure that he had the workload to support another architect before he hired DH.

  10. Writer*

    Thanks for all the comments. This is driving me insane because I know of someone who was offered a job from this company very quickly and was told all the same things that I was told about it taking longer but was offered the job within a week of the interview. Which could also have been due to them being at the end of the hiring process. When I applied they had literally just posted the position. Also, the job I turned down was a bit shady as they would not tell me what department I would work for or my salary. I advised them of my other interviews and how I would like more time to weigh all options but they said they could only give me a certain time to accept. So I decided to decline based on the other uncertainties with the position.

    1. hayling*

      Sounds like you dodged a bullet with the other job.

      The passage of time feels very different when you’re an employer vs an applicant. As an applicant, even a week can feel like an eternity. When you’re hiring, a week goes by in a blink!

    2. Sascha*

      The time you apply can make a big difference, at my work place we can’t even start phone interviews until the position has been posted for 30 days. So if someone applies when it first opens, it can seem like an eternity.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Do not feel bad about turning down a job where they refuse to discuss salary before you agree to work for them. That is cra-cra.

      What you did was right. Do not expect the company that is offering a position to give your more than a week or two to make a decision. You can use that to pressure to encourage the company dragging its feet on hiring to move faster, but you can’t use it to get the first company to delay.

    4. BRR*

      Turning the job was probably an amazing move for you because it sounds like crap. But I think you turned it down at least partially holding out for this company.

      When you say they would only give you a certain amount of time to accept that’s normal (depending on how much time they gave you). A week is about the max. Typically if you’re asking for a week to think it over you’re seeing if somebody else will move faster.

      1. BRR*

        Also I’d recommend not saying how you want to consider your other interviews. Employers don’t like to hear that you’re waiting to see if something better comes along. I’d stick with you want to be able to think over the offer.

        1. Folklorist*

          I’d normally agree with you, but since these guys sounded particularly sketchy, it’s probably a good thing for them to know that their top candidate isn’t desperately passionate to work for them. I’ve seen some sketchy companies get really flummoxed by the idea that their candidate might have other options and isn’t willing to lick their shoes for a job!

          1. BRR*

            A) Because the OP did it once, I wanted to suggest not repeating the behavior in the future.

            B) It doesn’t matter if an employer is sketchy, you still have to “play the game” if you’re considering their offer. But I’m all in favor of doing it if you wouldn’t consider an offer, it’s like seeing your ex while you’re with you’re new hotter richer smart SO :D.

    5. Ad Astra*

      I was hoping that the offer you turned down was one you weren’t terribly excited about, so I’m glad to hear that’s the case.

      There are so many possible reasons for a slow-down in the hiring process that you’ll drive yourself crazy (as you’ve noticed) trying to guess which it is. They could lose funding for a position, a hiring manager could have had a family emergency, management could be considering a total restructure of that department, or maybe they got caught up in negotiations with another candidate that ultimately fell through. These are all scenarios I’ve seen in my short career.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Wait, you received a job offer, but they wouldn’t tell you what you would be doing or how much you would be paid?!?

      That’s not an offer, that’s a bullet you just dodged! How could anyone know if they would accept an offer without knowing whether it pays $20K or $100K per year? That’s a big, red, flashing neon sign saying “RUN AWAY!!!”

      1. SystemsLady*

        Yeah, I was feeling bad for the OP missing out on a job offer until I read that. Very good decision on your part, OP.

      2. LBK*

        Seriously, that is only a job offer in the most literal sense of “I am offering you money in exchange for services” but, uh, you kinda have to tell people how much money and in exchange for what services.

        1. Honeybee*

          This comment made me laugh – mostly because the situation is just so bizarre and this is a very common sense “duh” kind of thing, lol.

      3. Retail Lifer*

        When I was on unemployment, I accepted a job where the district manager “didn’t know” what upper management would approve for this position, but they were looking to hire immediately and I needed a job, so I accepted. It turns out base pay was $150 per week (!!!!!) plus commission. Commission was terrible and I only ever made minimum wage there. I actually made more on unemployment. :(

    7. brightstar*

      Hiring can vary in the same company depending on the position and which department it is in. When my department was hiring, what we anticipated as a quick decision became involved as we ended up discussing a potential reorganization of the entire department, and various issues quickly came up not involving the reorganization.

      Also, I’m relieved to hear there were other reasons for turning down that offer. If they won’t tell you the basics, that is definitely a bullet dodged.

  11. AnonyGoose*

    I once got automated emails from a company every few weeks saying I was still in the running for a position I’d applied for and would be contacted for an interview shortly. I got, maybe, three of these emails over six weeks, and then finally got one saying that the decision had been made and they had chosen another candidate. They never did bring me in to interview (not even over the phone).

    Companies can be strange sometimes.

  12. Sascha*

    My friend just got hired at my university, and I kept warning him it would take a long time. I think he applied in March…finally finished the whole process in June and started a couple weeks ago. And I’m surprised it went that quickly. Hiring at my workplace is mind-numbingly slow.

  13. Ad Astra*

    In March, I had job interviews with three different companies in the same week.

    One of those companies is my current employer. I started in early April.

    One of those companies called me on my first day at my current job to tell me they went in a different direction.

    One of those companies still hasn’t called me back, and I guess they won’t — which is especially rude when you’ve met the candidate in person, but I didn’t really want that job anyway (for reasons unrelated to their radio silence).

  14. Writer*

    I have not be on any interviews since and really would like to hear yes or no from them first. My current job makes me want to up and quit daily and regret not taking the other job because at least then I wouldn’t be here. I do have an opportunity to possibly move to a different section at my current job. If I am aloud by my current manager but don’t feel like doing that just to then turn around and give my notice. I feel so helpless and wish I knew something. I plan to email again if I don’t hear at the month mark to state I am speaking with other companies to try to get an update on their timeline. I think it’s rude to not respond to e-mails especially when they initiated it.

    1. Been_there*

      I wouldn’t contact HR again. They may not be able to give you updates due to their internal processes. If you simply can’t wait a few months at your current job, take another position and plan to go to this company a couple of years later. The last thing you want to do is burn a bridge bugging the HR Manager.

      At my previous company, I applied in JANUARY. I heard NOTHING until MAY. Then out of the blue, got an HR interview. 1 week later, a phone interivew with manager, a week after that team interview, then an offere and start date a few days after that.

      What happened? By the time I applied they had already hired someone. But they liked my resume so the team petitioned HR for months to open up a new role for me. During that time they could not contact me. HR policy forbids “offering” a role that’s not yet developed (which makes sense to me). Yet they didn’t want to call and say “you didn’t get the position.”

      In your case, mayber a more qualified candidate came along that they hired into the role but they liked you so much they are trying to get another position for you. Communication wise, their hands might be tied on this and you don’t want to pester/come across as desparate if that is the case.

    2. BRR*

      I think it would be in your best interest to take the standard advice here and assume you didn’t get the job and move on mentally. Keep applying to and interviewing for other jobs.

      It’s incredibly rude they didn’t respond. This is sadly par for the course. I’m not saying it’s right in any ways, just how things are now. I wouldn’t email them telling them you’re speaking to other companies, that sounds like a threat. I would only contact them again if you have an offer in hand and are letting them know you have it while asking for an update on their timeline because you’re most interested in them.

      People want to contact companies to try and regain power in the hiring process since in most industries it’s skewed in favor of the employer, but it doesn’t work.

      1. Sadsack*

        I agree with you that if OP gets another offer she should contact this company and ask for status update and tell them she’s considering an offer. She should not contact this company just because she gets another interview scheduled. As you can see, interviews don’t necessarily mean anything for certain. She should go on every interview she can get and see what actual offers she gets.

    3. Sadsack*

      I understand that you are frustrated at your current job, but you really should write this one off and move on. Look at other job ads, go on whatever interviews you get. You just don’t know what will happen with this one, if anything. Holding out hope for it just makes it feel worse. You need to mentally move on and see what else is out there.

    4. Jen S. 2.0*

      Agree with Been_there. You don’t know what’s happening — it could be good things, but pestering them, thinking they are being rude, trying to bend them to your schedule, and threatening them is not the way to make them keep wanting to do good things for you. They don’t owe you anything, including responses to your emails. Moreover, your hating your job is not their problem, and they don’t have to speed up because you hate your job.

      For every interview, it’s best to immediately assume you will not get that job, and act accordingly.

    5. some1*

      Unfortunately, if they don’t have an update in a month’s time then they don’t have an update – you can’t force their hand by saying you’re talking to other companies (which they probably already guess or assume).

      And even if you could force them to tell you yes or no after a month, what would you do if they said no? You would still be desperate to leave your job, and you would have wasted the time you could be spending applying to other jobs now.

    6. YandO*

      You really need to be actively applying and hopefully interviewing. It does not good to wait.

  15. AnonymousaurusRex*

    I applied for my current job in November 2013, interviewed in February, and received the offer at the end of June, and then started mid-July 2014. They did at least let me know that they were waiting on a contract that would be funding the position, but I had definitely given up on them long before I got the offer. It was a pleasant surprise.

  16. Jen S. 2.0*

    It can take as long as it takes, and in some cases, that’s for-bleeping-ever. I had a job where I applied in September, interviewed in January, got the offer in March, and started in May.

  17. Been_there*

    Also my record – recieved an interview offer 2 YEARS after applying. It was a government role thoug, so different ballgame there.

  18. Bend & Snap*

    I applied to my job in early January, interviewed in late February, got an offer in early March, jumped through background checks and drug test hoops and finally started in mid April.

    And that was fast, because I forced their hand with a competitive offer.

  19. YandO*

    Here is my (somewhat similar) situation that I hope you will find useful.

    In Feb I applied with comp A. After 3 interviews, they said they hired candidates that were ahead in the process and that they will reach out once they are hiring again.

    In May I applied with comp B. I had two phone interviews and we clicked in ways I have never clicked with another hiring manager ever. It was amazing. I absolutely loved them. They said they wanted to move forward but then two weeks went by. I got an email saying things are taking longer due to restructuring and if I was open to having an interview in three weeks late. I said yes but did not hear anything back for weeks. I followed up mid-June and heard nothing. I decided they were not interested and moved on.

    In June, I saw the same job posted for Comp A and I applied. I also applied to a comp C that was in a different field, interesting to me but not my top choice. Both companies were interviewing me at the same time.

    Beginning of July, comp C made me an offer and wanted a quick answer. I was a lot more interested in comp A, but they were not near an offer yet. So, I told them I had an offer and asked whether they were willing to speed up the last few hiring steps. They were willing to and I negotiated an extensions with comp C. A week later Comp A made me an offer and I rejected comp C.

    I was thrilled. Comp A is super exciting and the offer was better than any other offers I have received so far. Two weeks go by and company B emails me asking to interview. I told them I had accepted a job offer and they asked me if I would reconsider. I spoke with them and they basically told me I just needed to speak to the founders and they would make me an offer that basically matched my offer from comp A.

    If offers from A and B came at the same time, I think I would have gone with B, but in that situation I decided to stick with my offer A. Company B tried to tell me I am making a mistake, but still said I should reach out if I am ever looking for a job.

    Here is why I told you all that confusing stuff:

    It took almost 5 months for Comp A to make me an offer and it included rejecting me at one point
    Comp C was pressuring for an answer the same day, but they were willing to give me a week to decide anyways
    Comp B really really wanted me, as it turns out, but their silence and lack of communication made it impossible for us to work out
    I used offer from comp C to get comp A to finally do their business or get off the pot

  20. Christian Troy*

    I think anytime you apply and interview for a job, you need to mentally move on after the follow up e-mail. Maybe you’ll get an offer, maybe you won’t. But I wouldn’t go into with any kind of set expectation or timeline. If you current situation demands that you need to get an exit strategy ASAP, then I’d focus on applying and interviewing elsewhere.

  21. Macedon*

    I’m sorry to put it like this, because it makes you sound like the unreasonable one, but it’s ‘barely’ 27 July. The unfortunate reality is that with candidate supply overwhelming employer demand, recruitment processes have drawn out significantly in terms of the number of stages and overall duration. The most you can do is pursue multiple leads and see where they go, while trying to take your mind off the lagging opportunity.

    I’ll add a small note to Alison’s advice: do not ever think to force an employer’s hand to speed along the process if you don’t, in fact, have an alternative you are prepared to go with, should they drop you. I know someone who grew impatient with the process for his preferred job, invented a competing offer, and communicated its ‘existence’ to the employer. The hiring manager apologised for the delay, explained that they would need a few more weeks on their end, then humbly withdrew from the candidate’s consideration, because they didn’t want him to ‘miss out’ on this other job.

    1. Susan*

      Yeah, I can totally see this happening. I’ve worked for some bigger companies, and I think the bigger the company, the more red tape there tends to be. It might literally not be the hiring manager’s choice that it’s taking so long. They might want you to start tomorrow, and just have to wait for higher-ups to approve something that may or may not be directly related but affects the decision. So when you say you have another offer, it might not actually make them hurry up, because hurrying up might not even be their choice. So I can see how a thoughtful person would just think they need to give you a response (you should be thankful they’re not doing radio silence), and since they can’t give you a formal offer, the best they can do is this.

    2. Jen S. 2.0*

      No sympathy from me. When you issue an ultimatum, you need to be 100% prepared to accept that the other party may be fine with the “or else.”

      1. dang*

        Yep. I’ve done this once because the other job needed an answer. I thought they would withdraw me but they offered me the job. So it can work, but I’d never ever ever use it if I didn’t have another real offer.

    3. BananaPants*

      I agree with you on not inventing a job offer to force the employer’s hand. Even when the competing offer is legitimate, hearing about it can do weird things to hiring managers.

      We were recently in a hiring process and the #1 candidate contacted the hiring manager a week after his final interview to say that while he would prefer to work for us, he had received a competing offer and needed to give his answer within a week. Hiring manager’s boss heard about this and flipped his lid, doing a total 180 and saying that the candidate was cocky and probably made up the offer to force our hand. The boss and the hiring manager managed to convince themselves that candidate #1’s polite email was somehow unprofessional and just a negotiating tactic, and a job offer was extended that afternoon to the #2 candidate (who accepted).

      I checked on LinkedIn and the #1 candidate recently started working for a different firm, so I can only assume that he was being honest. Of course it could probably be said that one might not want to work in an organization where simply letting the hiring manager know you have a competing offer on the table results in being blackballed! (It was enlightening to watch this unfold, but none of us were going to stick our necks out when the big boss turned on a candidate whose virtues he had been extolling 5 minutes earlier.)

        1. BananaPants*

          Yeah, most of us on the interviewing panels thought it was pretty over-the-top and afterwards we realized that there were likely political machinations behind the scenes. It was like he was using the situation as justification for dropping the top candidate so that the other candidate could be hired. Candidate #2 is fully qualified but honestly she’s off to a very slow start.

          I’m glad to hear this sort of reaction isn’t common or normal. This manager has a mercurial temper and often has disproportionate reactions, but we’re so used to it happening on a day-to-day basis that incidents like this make me realize the extent of it.

  22. 'callaKid*

    I once was offered a project job at an Ivy league school whose process takes so long I forgot I interviewed with them. (almost a year). It was a 9-month job.

  23. Worse than the DMV*

    I’m an internal recruiter and yeah, it takes forever.
    This is our typical process:
    1) New position is approved/resignation is handed in
    2) Hiring manager wants to get role filled “right away” so we post the job, but we have to wait for hiring manager to get approval from his supervisor for payroll budget so I’m gathering resumes and can’t act until the manager finally gets approval (and with vacations, etc, this can take weeks).
    3) I gather resumes, phone screen, and pass the winners on to hiring manager who has been hounding me for weeks for “the best candidates”. Said manager then sits on the resumes, providing no feedback, until three days later after multiple phone calls and emails I finally go find the manager myself.
    4) Manager wants to get the best candidates in for an interview “right away” but is out on vacation for a week, then has a conference, and then has to be involved in meetings regarding a new software launch so we move forward with scheduling a first round with some other key players
    5) I have to hound the first round interviewees for feedback and finally get it 1-2 days later, and then when the manager is finally available we set up second rounds
    6) we identify a candidate we like, conduct reference checks (and if your references don’t answer the first time then I’m calling them twice a day and emailing them until I hear something. Sometimes this takes a week or two), and prepare an offer
    7) Submit the offer to my boss and the hiring manager’s VP for approval. Sometimes it sits on their desk for weeks (no joke).
    8) We finally get approval! Call the candidate and…voicemail.
    9) Candidate calls back! They accepted another job. So we start all over.

    And at this point I’m 90 years old and have hired three people. Approximately.

    1. Ny*

      Wow this really helped a lot!! My Husband has been waiting to hear back from the MD MTA for a month and a day now(6 months so far with the whole application), and I think I know why!. People taking vacations is definitely the main one for us. I thought they were giving him the runaround instead of coming right out and saying “we have moved on with other candidates”. But its cool to know exactly what the recruiters go through.

  24. dang*

    Slow hiring experience here. First contact late October, first interview mid January (lag between first contact and first interview was my fault, I didn’t complete the assessment for a month, then the holidays happened), interviews with a different team in March, start date early April.

  25. BananaPants*

    For my husband’s new job, he started interviewing a month ago and just now started – and the employer was highly motivated and looking for a quick hiring process. It can take much longer in many cases. I know people with government jobs whose hiring processes were 3-4 months or more.

    There’s definitely a difference between “candidate time” and “employer time”.

  26. Kauri*

    On the flip side though, sometimes it is just red tape holding back offers.

    We’ve interviewed plenty of people in the past who we thought would be the best fit, and after the references confirmed our thoughts, would have liked to have hired them immediately. Working for the government, however, nothing is sure until all the background checks have been done, and the final approval for the position comes in. So while on a personal level I would have loved to have told someone “hey, we think you are awesome and we would like to hire you when the paperwork is finished…” I fully realise that that would suck really really really bad for the interviewee if for some reason the vacancy gets pulled.

    So even if people we liked follow up and ask, we can only say we still require more time to make a decision (even though in reality we already know who we would hire). And if people tell us they are considering other offers, as much as we would like them to join us we literally cannot do offers until the paperwork is done.

  27. TheExchequer*

    All together now: “you don’t have a job offer until you have a job offer.”

    The first company I ever worked for I honestly don’t remember how long it took – but it was quick (my dad worked there and they were desperate). I had teaching assistant jobs take about two weeks, a tax office take about two months, the job I’m about to leave took two days, and the job I’m going into took just over two months. And I just got a rejection from a job I applied to in January. You just never know!

  28. Audiophile*

    I’ve had things move really quickly and really slowly.

    Last June, I applied for a job and by the end the week they had made initial contact to set up an interview. I missed the first interview and rescheduled. Then I had a second round about a week later. The week after that they were calling references and made an offer after they spoke to my last reference. Altogether it took less than a month. I was in the new job by the end of July.

    I’ve had other organizations drag things out for months, before ultimately rejecting me. I know follow Alison’s advice and try to forget about it as soon as I leave the building. It’s difficult of course, but it means less stress for me.

  29. Kirsten*

    It took y husband’s current company about 6 weeks from his initial interview to make an offer. We really wanted him to get the job because it was in the same office building as my company and would allow us to commute together. It was well worth the wait, he’s been there over 2 years and they’ve been a great company to work for.

  30. JobSeeker*

    I feel your pain OP! I recently interviewed for a great new opportunity and am playing the waiting game myself. No matter how often you hear, or tell yourself, not to read into every email they send you it’s hard not to imagine what’s going on inside their process.

    I’ve found the best thing to do is focus on the positives and keep pushing ahead with the job search. I was called to an interview and interviewed well, this is a good thing, it means I’m on the right track. That gives me confidence that I can inject into my other applications and keep the momentum going until I have a written offer in hand. I suggest you do the same, best of luck going forward!

  31. skyline*

    I’ve had four different positions at my current organization. Two of the hiring processes were very quick: 2 months or less from application to start date. My most recent one, however, took 3.5 months from application to offer, and another 1.5 month from offer to start date. (And let’s not talk about the 3 months I spent waiting for the job to be posted…)

    Being internal, I knew why everything was moving so slowly this time, but that didn’t make it any less painful. I’m glad I can now put my mental energy toward doing the job instead of toward applying for it.

  32. HKM*

    My current job was about 6 months between me applying and me getting called for interview. Then after the interview it was another month.

    I think in my industry though it makes sense, with the projects we work on being so inconsistent with start dates and durations, and the scope changing partway through…they interviewed me when they realised they needed another person.

  33. Chocolate Teapot*

    It can be so frustrating can’t it? Especially when the interviewer comes out with “Well we need somebody as soon as possible”.

    For my previous job, I had the second interview in the morning and the offer by 5.00pm that afternoon. My current job took about 6 months in total as the hiring process froze during the autumn, and only got defrosted in the run up to Christmas. I recommend keeping applying for other positions in the meantime.

    1. einahpets*

      That is another important thing to note — there are times of the year (holidays, summer vacation), where I think some activities might slow down, such as hiring.

      I know a lot of my department takes time off in July / August because a lot of our clients are taking time off then too.

  34. Retail Lifer*

    I’ve been job hunting for close to a year now. In that time I’ve landed four interviews, all of which went really well, and I thought I had a great shot at all of them. One even went so well I really, REALLY thought I was going to get it. Unfortunately, I’m still job hunting. Don’t take a great interview as anything more than that.

    On the flip side, years ago I made it through several rounds of interviews for a job but moved on after a month. Three months later (!) I was offered the job.

  35. einahpets*

    For my current job, I interviewed twice about 4 months (and in the second interview the director of the department said she would love to have me) before I was given an offer. It turned out that they had hired someone else for the position and then had a hiring freeze. When the freeze was lifted, they made me an offer. The person they had hired originally ended up being more qualified on paper, but ended up not fitting the culture entirely and left about a year later. I am still here almost 4 years later.

    I guess my point is that there will be times that you may totally rock your interview, and someone else more qualified will still come along and get the original job. And other times, there may be internal department issues that result in delays or freezes in hiring. Job hunting is part skill, part luck, I think.

  36. shirley cakes*

    I have nothing constructive to add except to say I feel you OP!

    I went for and interview on July 1 as well – met with two people.

    I emailed to check in on the 14th, they called me and had me meet with three more (including the owner – who happens to be someone I know personally).

    I emailed the owner last week just to check in on the timeframe they anticipated for their decision and he was on vacation. So now I wait.

    As someone that does the hiring in my current organization, we’ve always been so quick with our process that this just feels tediously long to me.

  37. Wendy's*

    I am in a very similar position for a managerial position in which I was told would be filled within 2 weeks. My interview went well. I was told to call if I thought of any additional questions. I sent a thank you letter that same week and followed up the subsequent week. Still no decision made!
    It is frustrating bc I know this position is for me. In the meantime I’m considering other positions as placeholders.

  38. Stevie Wonders*

    I applied for my last job in March, interviewed in November (after I had long forgotten about it), received offer December, started the following January. For a large well known computer manufacturer. Turned out the group was undergoing major reorg, and not for the first time.

  39. Ny*

    OK so my husband applied for a city bus driver Job back in March I believe. took his test and pass, set in front of the board and they really enjoyed him, took his fingerprints. Now we’ve already received the state fingerprints back now we’re just waiting on the federal. Why is it taking so long it’s almost Been 6 months.. gahlee !! Lol but he has been keeping in touch and the lady informed him that she was waiting to hear back from the recruiters, and they actually haven’t called anyone back. Now this young lady has just recently went on vacation and they said she’ll be back Monday.. You all don’t think they are giving him the runaround? because number one, they really need bus drivers!! They even put the posting the back up on the wwebsite!! I’m in Baltimore Maryland if that helps. Lol its like the longest process ever and I’m pretty sure they’ll have a training class most likely sometime in October because they did last year and I’m pretty sure they want to have the class before the snow comes in the class I believe is 8 weeks long. And my husband already has his CDL B license in his passages endorsements so he’s the perfect candidate . Yeah he has a little smudge on his record when he was 17 he had a misdemeanor got locked up for weed. But they actually have drivers who done worse and I know this personally. And my husband is 25 now. He was so young I don’t think they should hold this over his head for the rest of his life. So sorry for the long post but what do you all think?

  40. CAK*

    At my current job, it took them three months to get back with me for an interview after applying, and it took another three months before they offered me the position.

    It took SIX months to get this job.

  41. OfficeKnitter*

    I know how the OP feels. I don’t think I’ve ever had an application-to-hiring cycle take less than a couple of months, with big gaps between when interviews/phone screens occur and when HR follows up. This current one (if I am ultimately hired) is no exception. After an interview last month, the HR manager let me know he would follow up on a couple of days. So when a week passed and I’d heard nothing, I figured I was out of the running. I just found out today, three weeks after the fact, that they’re inviting me back for a final round of interviews. So yeah, even if there’s an established hiring timeline, it doesn’t mean there won’t be schedule slips. Mu think this is especially true in government and higher ed.

  42. CB*

    Hi everyone,
    Please help me because I am LOST and PUZZLED :
    I sent my CV to Company A based in Berlin (Germany) back in 2013, they told me they would come back to me if I was selected for the interview but never did.
    On July 20th 2015 (one month ago), I received a mail from a person presenting himself as one of the two co-founders of Company B also based in Berlin (Germany) asking me if I was interested in the same role I applied for in 2013 and I said YES.
    On July 24th I did a Skype Interview with the other co-founder of Company B who was co-founder of Company A and he started the interview by saying that the problem in 2013 was the VISA (I am non EU citizen) and now they have a lawyer and it wasn’t a big issue anymore.
    The interview went well (search good interview signs on google) and he asked me to send him copies of my passport, my degree and my Schengen Visa (I spent 3 months in Europe from February to May) because he told me it might help. And he would give all this to his lawyer and come back to me afterwoods.
    I sent him all this the day after the interview with the “thank you email”.
    On August 6th (two weeks after the interview), I sent him an email asking him for an update on the hiring process since I dind’t hear from him and he replied almost immediately telling me they need to screen the documents by their lawyer and asking me to “please hang in there”.
    No contact since then and I found that they posted the job alongside with two other roles on a Job Board on August 7th !!!
    What do you think of all this ?
    Can I still get the job ?
    Are they looking for someone better or someone who doesn’t require a visa ?
    Why did they contact me ?

  43. Stevie Wonders*

    There is nothing new about about not receiving feedback after an interview, this became standard operating procedure during the 1990’s. Following up was fruitless, as I typically couldn’t get a straight answer (and the hiring manager/recruiter usually seemed annoyed), so by the end of that decade I gave up trying to get feedback, and that hasn’t changed since. Yes, it was hugely annoying, but after consistently experiencing this over dozens of interviews, I finally realized there was no point in becoming aggravated. Unless a company makes an offer, and I’m interested in another, I don’t contact or expect anything.

  44. Yovanna Bieberich*

    HR seems to be another word for bureaucracy. The department is short staffed and struggling to get by and want someone in fast. They already have a top candidate from another branch of the SAME company applying. The department wants to hire that person, but HR requires they spend weeks interviewing less qualified people. Meanwhile, the top candidate needs to either hear back, or just completely move to another company…thereby losing your best qualified candidate. You snooze, you loose HR.

  45. Gabby*

    I was first contacted about a job in March and had a phone interview in April. I didn’t hear anything again until end of June stating there were some budget issues and asking if I was still interested. I responded that I was, then heard nothing again until end of September. I then had an interview with the person that conducted the first interview along with the boss. That was three weeks ago. Last week I received an email saying, I think we will be making an offer but if we made an offer and if you accepted, can you start end of the month. Now another week has gone by and still no final answer. It is easy to take it personally, but busy bosses are now always terribly efficient, the person making the decision may not be the person who approves the expenditure, and a week to the person waiting for an answer seems like forever, while the person making the decision is often pulled many directions and the time flys by for them. In the time since the first contact, I have done two two-month temporary assignments and spent a month traveling in Australia. If I had passed up the other opportunities, I wouldn’t have those great experiences on my resume and while I would really like this job, it may be they never get around to hiring for it, or hire someone else. At the end of this month, I am moving on to something else as while I would like it, I can’t wait forever. Be careful that you do not allow the idea of a job prevent you from taking jobs that are open to you. Remember the old saying, one in the hand is worth two in the bush — especially if you hate your current job and you will end up quitting. Either take the next alternate job offer or resign yourself to staying where you are while you apply for other things. This one is not on your time frame and really, at this point you need to stop following up with them.

  46. Linda Smith*

    I’ve interviewed at a lot of different places lately, and every single one of them said they went with “a more qualified candidate.” It’s annoying the crap out of me, because I’m still sitting here, months later wondering what I did wrong, and why I’m not as qualified as the girl in my same graduating class who got the job. Same classes. Same experience. What did I do?

    Is it okay to email weeks (maybe a month or so) after the interview and ask why I didn’t get the job, or what I could improve upon? Or has that time window passed? Thoughts would be much appreciated!

  47. The Unknown*

    Yeah, I’m in the same boat of this article except I don’t have another potential job waiting to hear back from me…I went on an interview, it went very well, and called back to check on the process. They told me that they were sorry for the wait but they should either make their finals or a second face to face interview with the potential employer. I really want to know though cause my job is waring me out all around and they really don’t care about us.

  48. New to This*

    What does it mean, when at the end of a 2nd telephone interview, the hiring manager says “you will definitely be hearing back from me”? Their process is two telephone screens and then an in-person interview. Thank you.

  49. Pete Heritage*

    I’m in the same boat myself. After applying for a role back in February for a trainee role, I didn’t hear back until way past the deadline (so much so that I’d forgotten I’d applied when I received a call from my HR advisor)

    When I had my interveiw I was advised that there had been over 180 applicants and they had to short list down to 15. Now I’ve got to wait and see if I get short listed again for the final interveiw

    It can be tough to sit and wait – I’ve found that in the mean time I’ve just focused as best I can on my current role within my company until I hear something new.

  50. Jeffrey*

    So i had this interview about a month ago. I think the interview went well, and the job interviewer seemed to be interested in me filling the job position. Towards the end of the interview, i casually asked if there will be another interview and he mentioned 2 weeks time and even gave me the exact date. Between this interview i attended and the supposedly 2nd interview, he did mentioned he will be traveling. Yes, traveling for 2 weeks

    The date of the supposedly 2nd interview have passed by a week and 3 days. The delay could be because he could be busy, he could be off traveling again, he could be this or he could be that. My question is how can one know the real reason for the delay, its all guess work / speculative in the justifying the reason(s) for the delay. I have continued applying for other jobs but i am anxious to know what is my status for the job i had interviewed for.

  51. Avriel*

    I have had 2 interviews at a place I really want to work at the last was yesterday Nov. 1st. They told me that I interviewed well and will let me know either way, today Nov. 2nd, I have not heard from them yet. How long should I wait to follow up either by phone or walking in?

  52. Zack*

    @ Avriel. Do nothing. Keep looking. Wait for them to contact you or forget them. Two things here: They told me that I interviewed well’ and will let me know either way’. Fact they told you next day and haven’t called you is not great. But slow down a bit. Neither company may be as great and wonderful as you think. Maybe they will call you. Remember amazing interview does not mean automatic job offer. Please read this blog and others, you will learn quickly this is pretty standard BS interview chit chat.

  53. Mel*

    I know this is an old post, but I’m currently going through this hell at the moment for a couple jobs. Both did tell me that they were at the very start of their process (one or both are still posted on the company’s website), but it’s been interminable.
    One is my dream job – that I interviewed for at the end of September, and it’s now mid-November. I’ve sent a couple follow up emails in the last few weeks, partly under the guise of informing them of new skills I’ve been working on, but still haven’t heard back. The other job is also great, and I interviewed for it a month ago, and as it’s actually within my department, so everyone else in my department is gunning for me to get it. And also nothing.
    I haven’t stopped applying for other jobs, but it is a bit disheartening. Especially as I applied and interviewed for a 3rd role that I got a rejection for just one week later!

  54. Sheetal*

    I was interviewed by an U.S based firm starting from 14 Nov to 24th Nov was interviewed by 6different people including HR,Hiring manager,business head,saes and finance director S and finally by vice president.
    We discussed about joining date, and they told me that I will be informed shortly but till date never heard anything from the
    I was being called for interview through a consultant upon follow up there were numerous answers given by him. Like interviews are going on for other post so the process has slowed down, HR manager is out of country for a week, they have liked your profile but are looking for some more interviews,december month they have freezed their budget.
    Are these reasons really make sense or else he has got no idea about real happening. Please help me understand.

  55. raj*

    I’ve received feedback from employer after my 2nd interview that We had put a proposal to the management and its still under review. Will keep you posted with further feedback. During interview they told me its urgent opening and looking candidate who can join immediately which i also agreed, now 1 month over still no response from them ,i am not comfortable to follow up again with them should i assume this position is closed.

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