how long should it take to hear back after you apply for a job?

It’s been a while since we tackled this! A reader writes:

What’s an average time you should expect to wait to hear if you will get an interview after you submit an online job application? I’ve read your prior posts that prospective employers usually know right away if they want to interview you. But how long before your resume typically makes it to them? And do they then often wait to contact you? I just submitted eight applications and am wondering at which point I should feel discouraged if I don’t hear anything back.

It totally varies, and it’s impossible to know from the outside.

Some employers look at applications as they come in and contact people for interviews pretty quickly — like within a week. Others wait and look at them all at once at a certain date, which can be as long as a month or more after the ad first goes up. And some are even slower than that!

Also, sometimes you’ll be put in a “maybe” pile, meaning that they might invite you to interview if their first group of interviewees don’t work out. So in some cases, you can end up hearing back after months. (That’s bad practice; they should communicate something to you during that time, but it’s pretty common not to.)

However, in general, if it’s been a month or so, you’re probably not getting a call. You still might. But the chances that you will are a lot lower.

On your end, though, the best thing that you can do is to try not to speculate on what might be going on on their end. Truly, the best thing you can do after sending off an application is to assume you didn’t get the job, put it out of your mind entirely, and let it be a pleasant surprise if they do contact you. There’s no benefit to you to waiting and wondering, and it just causes stress and angst (and can keep you from sending out additional applications too — which you should not stop doing if you’re actively searching).

{ 135 comments… read them below }

    1. chocolate lover

      Ridiculously slow. Though even my organization isn’t usually as bad as 6 months, thankfully.

    2. K.

      It took a friend of mine close to a year, start to finish, to start a new higher ed staff job. She was new to higher ed (and ended up hating it) and she was completely floored by how long it took. She said “I could have gotten and worked a whole other job during this process!”

      1. Higher Ed Database Dork

        Sadly that is common for even entry level jobs that should not take that long to fill. We’ve lost out on so many good hires because our process took way too long!

        1. Lil Fidget

          I’ve said “I could have given *birth* to the applicant by now!” of a process at an older job that took more than nine months.

          1. Higher Ed Database Dork

            At my school, it’s because 1) the position must remain open for 30 days minimum 2) you must interview at least 3 qualified applicants – doesn’t matter if only 2 people applied ever, you can’t offer one of them a job until 3 people have been interviewed 3) HR is understaffed and moves slowly 4) interview committees are almost always required by upper mgmt and it takes a while to coordinate everyone’s schedules 4) the hiring manager can’t just offer the job after selecting the candidate, she has to submit her choice to HR and they draft the offer letter and contact the applicant 5) candidate selection often goes through multiple approvals – once I was selected by my manager, his boss had to approve me, then the assistant VPs had to approve me, then the CIO approved me.

            1. PlainJane

              All of this. Plus at my state university, every applicant who meets minimum qualifications has to be scored by every search committee member using a matrix developed from the required and preferred qualifications in the posting. We get large numbers of applicants, so scoring can take a seriously long time.

            2. Justme, The OG

              And then some positions require a background (criminal and/or financial) check, so that takes 2 weeks minimum.

            3. Stevie Dedalus

              This is very similar to the large government-like international organization I work for. The processes are so onerous and slow, it typically takes more than a year from advertisement to offer. Disappointed applicants (we get 200-300 applicants for every job) talk about nepotism in my organization, but in my ten years here I’ve never seen a case of that. Frankly, nepotism might be preferable to the systems we have in place to prevent it. My own hiring was a minor miracle of twists and turns, and I had forgotten that I’d been interviewed by the time I got the offer letter.

              Now I’ve seen the process many times on both sides, as an applicant and as part of a hiring committee. To keep from going crazy, I treat my job applications as stress relief, or a hobby. I send the applications out and am not attached to the result or even hearing back.

          2. College Career Counselor

            The academic year. In my experience, typically higher ed does not use HR except as an initial screening/application-collecting venue. The people who actually do the work (in my case, career services) have to find the time to add the review of candidates, the phone screens, the initial campus interviews with the team, plus whoever else is important to put the candidate in front of. This is anywhere from 15-200 people (many in an all-campus forum) and often includes stakeholders all the way from students to the president/Trustees of the institution.

            Say someone leaves in June. It’s hard to do interviews involving faculty and students until late August/early September at the earliest, and many searches are primed to on-board the successful candidate either in January or over the summer before the fall academic year starts. Beginning in the middle of the semester is challenging (I’ve done it, and I had trouble getting anyone to meet with me starting in Mid-November), and when you add to that the general lack of urgency/deliberative/inclusive process of higher ed, you can get some funky timing and delays.

            1. I’ll be Lucretia

              University staff looking to hire a recently vacated position, and it took me over three months just to get a job requisitioned and POSTED. Now posting open for 30 days, and then will deal with all of the above… Realistically, six months to hire the position assuming things go “smoothly.”

    3. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Oh it’s terribly slow. I’m at a state university, and the slowness is a combination of tons of HR rules/regulations + super busy hiring managers who have very little time. I was shocked when my current manager called me within 2 weeks of submitting an application. Even more shocked when I got hired within a few months – usually the entire process is so drawn out.

    4. Professor Ronny

      Yes, academia is slow but many of the jobs are advertised with a closing date two months or more in advance. (Jobs advertised in November-December near end of fall semester, interviewing in February after spring semester gets started.) In every search I have been involved in, no one hears back (unless they are interviewed) until the position is filled.

      1. Academic Addie

        Yeah, academia is slow. But it’s predictable! Which is nice to know that (if you mostly applied to the same institution and department type) you’ll probably get your offers fairly close together.

    5. bb-great

      About 6 months for me in an academic library. 3 months from when I applied to when I heard anything.

    6. AnotherLibrarian

      I applied for a academic library job and received a rejection 18 months later. I had already taken another position and had to literally look up on a spreadsheet I had made of jobs to see that I had even applied there. It was truly surreal.

      But after several years in Academic libraries, I agree. They are slow.

    7. Tuxedo Cat

      I’ve applied for jobs and received interviews 3-4 months later in academia. Per everyone’s advice, once I apply, I put it out of my mind.

    8. Kat

      I’ve got my first higher ed job and was actually surprised at how quick the hiring process went. The posting was only open for 2 weeks, They scheduled an interview for the Tuesday after the application closed and a second the following week. The offer came two days later and they wanted me to start in 2 weeks. Now that I’m on the inside I know that this particular institution (private) is very slow to approve hiring for open positions (like positions stay open for years) so when they finally get the go-ahead they moves as quickly as possible before TPTB can change their minds!

    9. Pine cones huddle

      Yes! I just recently (in January/February) heard from a job that I’d applied for back in August that had been posted since March!!!!

    10. Alexis

      Learning this as I try to break into Higher Ed and through reading more about the process. I had one position I applied to that I got an email from 2 months after I applied stating they had cancelled the position. Argh.

    11. Ophelia Bumblesmoop

      Former State University staff member here. I applied for a job with a closing date of May 31. At the end of August I was contacted to schedule a phone interview – for mid-September. In the beginning of October they called to schedule an in-person interview… on Halloween. The week after Thanksgiving I was called with an offer.

      When I switched departments on campus, it was very similar. It did move faster because I was the preferred candidate, but HR held it up. Posting closed June 30, panel interview completed end of August, in-person interview completed mid September, but no offer until end of October.

      Not too long ago, I switched to K-12 education. The job was listed on a Friday evening, closed Wednesday. First interview Monday morning. Second interview Thursday morning. Job offer at lunchtime. My mind was blown at how quick the process went. It’s been 5 months and my old job at the University was just posted two weeks ago. They won’t have an actual body in the seat until May at the earliest – and that’s if the department chair applies some serious pressure.

      Hiring practices at higher education is ridiculous. I sat on numerous hiring committees when I worked there. HR received all applications and didn’t turn them over to hiring manager until 3 weeks after postings closed. HM screened every one based on his or her own metric. Brought those to the committee who had to come up with some quantifiable metric to eliminate people, which then had to be defended to HR. Aimed for 5-7 phone interviews, then cut to 2-3 in person interviews. Every single question had to be pre-approved by HR, which often took 2-3 weeks at each stage. Then the HM had to select the final candidate, negotiate an offer with HR, then make the offer. If the candidate negotiated, it took another 2 weeks. It was a painful experience.

    12. LAI

      Agreed, I work in higher ed and a month would be fast here. Typically, we’re required to have the job posted for a minimum of 2 weeks before we’re even allowed to start viewing the applications. Then a committee of people have to review them, and find time to meet to discuss them, then find time to schedule interviews… You also have to communicate back and forth with HR who are on the opposite side of campus and may not respond to your emails for days… In my experience, if you make hiring a priority and do everything as fast as you can, candidates may hear back in a month. Most offices do not make it a priority (for reasons that I do not understand), and I’ve even worked in offices that deliberately delayed the process to hire in groups, or because of the academic calendar. So it is totally normal to get a call about a job you applied for months ago.

  1. Anon librarian

    Some fields are notoriously slow too–academic/college libraries are one and some levels of government are too.

    1. Blue Anne

      And government. When I heard back from the federal reserve, I’d already been working at a new job for 4 months.

    2. Millennial Lawyer

      Was going to comment just to say this. In government – my experience is at municipality level – it may take months to even know if you have the funding for the position you’re hiring for.

    3. Thornus67

      I have a job app through USAJobs that has now been open since 2014. I don’t think it’s actually open, just that someone never marked it closed. But others have told me of getting called in for interviews three years after the fact. Soooo… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

      1. Nolan

        One time I got a call asking for a reference for my ex. We’d been broken up for like a year and a half and I’d moved to a different state, so it was quite a surprise to get that call. They were quick to get off the phone with me, but I’m pretty sure it was from when he’d applied for a TSA job 2+ years earlier.

        1. Fergus Formerly Known as the Artist Fergus

          For DHS it took from the time I filled out the clearance process to the time they were going to process the paperwork 18 months. I got yanked off the job with no explanation, then received a call that they wanted to move forward with my clearance. I told them to piss off

      2. Danger: Gumption Ahead

        My friend was offered a job the the FBI 2 years after her interviews. She had already taken a job at another acronym by that time and had been in the position for something like 9 months. You ain’t seen slow until you have seen security clearance slow, I guess?

        1. Pseudo-Fed

          From what I understand, a security clearance can actually go lickety-split… if you’re young, and don’t have much “background” to “investigate.”

      3. Zirco

        It took me about 7 months to get an interview for my Federal government position. The process can be very drawn out. (I absolutely love my job, even though I wish it had been quicker.)

      4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        You never know! A bunch of positions that were frozen during the sequester reopened, but I suspect hiring/staffing is particularly slow right now (I’m trying to avoid crossing the no politics rule).

    4. paul

      Some fields with a security clearance too; had a former coworker that took a job with us while waiting on a call back from a job with a nuclear weapons disassembly plant. She’d applied with them and us at the same time…and ~2 years later was finally actually approved and formally hired out there. I have no clue what the heck her job there was going to be, she didn’t have a science background, but hey good for her cause that employer pays well.

  2. mf

    With every job offer I or my husband have ever gotten, we’ve always received an offer very quickly–usually within a week, often within a few days. There are always exceptions, and obviously this can vary by job and industry. But if I don’t hear back by two weeks post interview, I send a follow-up email and do my best to move on.

    1. Lil Fidget

      After the *interview* I agree – anecdotes aren’t data, but all the jobs I’ve gotten, the offer has come quickly after the last interview – them dragging their feet is a bad sign for me. However, I believe the question is about how long after submitting the initial application (before hearing back to offer either a screening call or an interview) and I’ve seen a much wider range of time there. For a USA Jobs post, it was almost a year! For someone who’s considering applications on a rolling basis, it can be the day after you send your resume. All over the map.

      1. EddieSherbert

        +1

        I’ve also felt that companies move really fast once we’re at the offer stage (I’m in Marketing). My current job offered me the job 4 hours after my second interview….. but it took almost a month after I APPLIED for them to initially reach out.

        And friend of mine in a related field didn’t hear back from a job for three months after she applied (and she did interview with them and secure a job offer)!

  3. Cassandra

    In academia, the lag for faculty and some professional positions can be bonkers beyond belief, especially around December/January. (It’s usually not so bad for regular white- and blue-collar jobs; those tend to have more streamlined, less complex processes.) I’d say if you’re up for a research, librarian, or permanent-instructional position, give it as long as two months before you completely write it off. (But don’t bug people! Alison’s standard advice there holds.)

    Rules of thumb: the higher up the position in the hierarchy, the worse the delay. The larger/more prestigious the institution, the worse the delay. (They know they can afford to let people wait. It’s not courteous at all, but they can, so they sometimes do.) The broader the spectrum of organizational homes of search-committee members, the worse the delay (because getting the committee together for a meeting is an exercise in frustration).

    1. Tuxedo Cat

      I’m waiting to hear back from a place that is large and prestigious, for a decently higher up position at an academic institution… I get these things take awhile, but I wish they would’ve been upfront about it rather than suggesting that I’d hear back in about 2 weeks… It has been over 3 months and nothing. I’m not optimistic but still.

    2. nora

      My husband applied for a position as an academic librarian after a layoff and due to some arcade state government rules basically had to be offered the position. They didn’t even have to interview him. Instead they dicked him around for two months, had him drive 90+ miles one-way multiple times for interviews, then rejected him for not knowing a minor technical skill he could have learned in an hour. I was FURIOUS.

      The only minor bright spot was that whoever they rejected him for left after less than six months (by which point my husband was thankfully employed again). The position has been reposted multiple times, each time with a lower and lower salary range.

  4. Archives Gremlin

    My horror story? I applied for a job a number of years ago, even had to send in a sealed copy of my transcripts (applying to a state government position). Never heard back. *shrug* whatever, move on. A YEAR later I get a later that I didn’t get an interview. Two weeks later? The position is open again *face palm*

    1. Lil Fidget

      Yes, with a Fed job I heard back almost this late about moving forward, and I wondered who on earth would still be interested in a job a full year after submitting. Surely a lot of the truly competitive applicants would have found something by then.

      1. Beatrice

        Well, it’s long enough that you might have already found a job and be almost ready to look again… :o)

      2. Zirco

        It really depends. If you are in a specialized field which is hit by a huge slump, a call after a year might be very welcome. For example, in the latest oil bust, every company was laying people off, and virtually no one was hiring. 3 1/2 years later, things are finally picking up again.

  5. RaccoonLady

    When I was in college I applied for an unpaid internship, that you had to give them a down payment of $400 to do (it is hard to get entry level paid experience with wildlife), and never heard back. A full year and a few months later they emailed me asking if I’d be interested in the next internship cycle. I was not.

    1. Lil Fidget

      They didn’t pay back the $400?? That is a straight up scam, I’d say. I can’t think what reasonably company would request any deposit at all for something that depends on their own decision, never mind that much money.

    2. Curious Cat

      That’s insanity to ask a college student (or anyone!) to drop $400 and never hear back or get a refund… 100% a scheme.

    3. Millennial Lawyer

      That isn’t normal at all – you actually should report this. It was a scam. What did they even say it was for?

    4. LouiseM

      What a scam! Sadly, I’ve seen something similar in my own industry (cultural/arts sector, think museums and libraries). An unpaid internship at a very, very prestigious institution had an application fee attached. You want applicants to pay you for the chance to work for free? No thanks.

      1. Lil Fidget

        I could almost see it if the fee is for people who are *accepted* as interns – if the institution is incurring costs in hosting them (I don’t love that either) – I mean, students are often paying for credits at the institution that sponsored them, so they are literally paying to work – but to pay just to APPLY?? No way, that is nuts and clearly very scammy. Way too easy for the company to rack up tons of applications, hire nobody and whistle their way to the bank.

    5. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Are you sure you applied DIRECTLY to the entity offering an internship – OR – someone acting as some type of agent?

    6. anon scientist

      Ugh, even after over a decade in the field, this is one of those things about wildlife biology that I truly hate. So many unpaid positions, or positions where people have to pay. I know so many people who have only succeeded in this field because their parents had the money to support them through the early years, and they could afford to do these things. It sucks for all the people who couldn’t afford this, and I wonder how much more diverse the field would be without these “opportunities”.

      Wildlife biology is one of those fields where it is built on people being really passionate about the work, and thus being screwed over with loads of unpaid jobs because there are always people willing to do this. I did my share of volunteering, and unpaid jobs, mostly by going into huge amounts of debt, which I now sort of regret. I’ve had some awesome jobs/experiences, but I’d be so much better off financially if I went to nursing school instead.

      1. Lil Fidget

        But surely you don’t have to pay just to *apply* as an intern? That is the part that is off the charts to me. What are you paying them for, just the time they spend reviewing the application? That’s crap. I’ve only seen anything similar with writing contests, you have to send a submission fee just to enter the contest – and I think that sucks too. Although at least in that case they can say there’s no other source of money for the prizes and judges.

  6. Ex Gov Employee

    I’d like to add that, if you’re applying for a government job, it can be an EXTREMELY long process. I worked at an agency and here’s how it went for us:

    1. We had to post the job for 30 days online. We couldn’t look at any applications until that period was up.
    2. We had another month where we reviewed applications. Those we rejected had to have a formal rejection reason written, which H.R. had to approve. Sometimes they would tell us we had to interview someone we rejected.
    3. Phone screens started at the beginning of the third month, and took about another two weeks. Then H.R. set up the in-person interviews with us.
    4. Three months had already gone by before in-person interviews even began.
    5. After the interviews, we selected candidates for the job. We always picked more than one because there were then background checks which many applicants didn’t pass.
    6. The EARLIEST we could make a job offer was about four months after the job was initially posted

    Here’s the real kicker, though. For some in-demand jobs, like I.T., by the time we’d get around to even interviewing someone they’d already found other work. We’d often offer positions to up to three applicants, only to have all three reject us and then have to repost the job again.

    For those who wonder why government agencies sometimes keep suboptimal employees around, I can tell you, as a manager, that sometimes it was better to have someone who was 60% effective than to not be able to hire anyone at all.

    1. Lil Fidget

      If I was stuck in this system, I’d probably be targeting employees that currently have jobs and encouraging them to apply. They can wait that long, but nobody who’s actively job seeking right now can.

    2. AnotherFed

      This! At my agency the hiring process can just drag on. I know for one team it took over a year to bring the person on. On another team they dragged their feet and waited 4+months before they started the phone screens. For our interns, it wasn’t uncommon to reach out to people who applied in September for interviews in February/March.

    3. Lynca

      Thankfully no formal rejection for our agency, though H.R. will debrief you why you were pre-screened out. I didn’t have a phone screen either. Approvals just moved at a glacial pace.

      I can’t speak for current hire times but I applied in September, interviewed in February and started in March. 7 months total.

    4. banana&tanger

      And then, in my agency, HR randomly decides your selected candidate doesn’t meet MQs. Even though HR is supposed to pre-screen for that and not forward applicants who don’t qualify. So they reject your preferred hire. And it’s been too long after you argue, and they make you repost. This has happened twice recently with internal candidates. Not frustrating at all…

  7. Blue Anne

    I find that small local employers can be really quick. I have three interview this week with local businesses who all contacted me within a couple of days of submitting my application. For larger employers, I would expect at least 2 weeks.

    For me, it’s another reason to prefer small businesses. :)

  8. Jergens

    I have only ever had to apply online twice. The first time I was invited for an interview about a week and a half after I completed the application and was offered the job the next day.

    The second time it was about a month. They had set-up a bunch of interviews and went through them quickly, a few of us were asked to come back after a short lunch break. We had more in-depth interviews, then one-by one were escorted to an empty conference room. After about 30 minutes there were five of us in the room. The three managers doing the interviews came in and offered us the positions we applied for, pending background and drug testing.

  9. Sweet Chariot

    I lived both sides of this coin. When I look for jobs, I typically stay excited for about a week and then I let it go. But, during a particularly rough work environment I was applying to jobs all over the place, so much so, that I didn’t have time to dwell at all on whether they would pan out or not. And then I got a call from a company 6 MONTHS after I applied for the job. I had to look through my notes to remind myself what job I even applied for. The situation around the long wait was definitely not common, nor was the boss. But, in the end, 5 years later I’m still at my job and relatively happy, so I think it worked out for the best.

    TL;DR – Don’t stand around waiting for a response. It took 6 months to get a call back for my job, but the situation and the boss were both unsual.

    1. TL -

      For my last job (academia), I don’t remember when I applied, but at least a month, maybe two or three, before I got a phone interview. Then an in-person interview (relatively quickly; a week or two?), second in-person interview two weeks later (position changed slightly so I needed to meet new boss) a few weeks down the road; and third in-person interview (big boss), which two or three weeks to schedule because his schedule was insane.

      Then waiting, waiting, waiting for offer & negotiations to go through – all in all, about 4 months from phone screen to starting, which included winter breaks. I knew from the first in-person interview that I wanted the job and they wanted me. I didn’t stop job hunting but I was incredibly picky about what I accepted interviews for in the in-between period. Totally worth it, though.

  10. Huddled over tea

    I’m in the private sector and it can STILL be a long process. If we get back to you within a month, that’s pretty good going for us. We’re a really popular brand, so we get a seriously high volume of applications.

    There’s definitely still advice out there for candidates to follow up after two weeks. I always know when it’s been two weeks since the closing date of one of our ads, because I’ll get a deluge of messages via email and twitter to ask how it’s going, if it’s been filled and to ‘reiterate their interest’. It drives me crazy, because I could use the amount of time I spend answering all those to actually shortlist and do my job!

  11. Curious Cat

    In college I had applied for a summer (specifically May-August) internship in March when the application opened. Didn’t hear back until almost the end of July asking if I wanted to schedule an interview *facepalm*

  12. Eye of Sauron

    Well if we’re sharing stories ridiculous amounts of time, I can add mine (well my husband’s really).

    He applied at a fire department when we relocated, application…wait a month… take a written test… wait a month…take a physical test…wait 3-4 months… get called for an interview…wait a month…is informed he’s ranked 21st on the list

    …fast forward 3 years -yes that’s years-

    …get a letter for another interview scheduled in (you guessed it) 1 month… wait 3 months… get offer from department.

    1. EddieSherbert

      What?! That’s straight up bizarre! Did he take the job? And is it his primary job, or like… a side thing? (I’m thinking how the tiny town I live in ONLY has a volunteer fire department made up of a bunch of people that have different “day jobs”)

    2. OhNo

      I’ve actually heard stories like that multiple times related to fire departments. An acquaintance of mine just got a position at one of the local fire houses after over two years of waiting, and he had some wild tales of other applicants waiting even longer.

      I wonder what it is about firefighting that leads to delays like that? Too many applicants, maybe?

      1. Slartibartfast

        Too few departments that are still full time. Public safety (combined police and fire) and volunteer departments are the norm outside of large cities now, unfortunately. Full time fire coverage is a big civil expense. Very hard to make a living as a firefighter these days.

  13. Pseudo-Fed

    My personal best: I emailed my resume one Monday morning. An hour later my phone rang, and I had an interview that afternoon. An offer soon followed, and I worked there for 15 years.

      1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter

        I’ve had this happen with external recruitment consultants. The recruitment process is their job and they certainly have time to read the applications soon after they arrive and act quicky. When the application goes to the actual company it goes to someone who has a lot of other things to do and maybe has a specific time when they can read applications. Unless they desperately need to hire someone very quickly – in which case it’s usually a short time job and a temp office may be involved. They are quick too.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      That sounds like what happened with my husband – he works in corporate IT at a data center. Light speed compared to higher ed!

      1. Lil Fidget

        Yeah I have a tech friend. When he’s looking for a job he just uploads his resume to Monster or something and waits for the calls to start pouring in, and yes they’re probably same-day. Uh, I *wish* my job searches were anything like that.

    2. OhNo

      I’ve never gotten one quite so fast, but just a few months ago I applied to a seasonal position that was suggested to me by a friend who worked in another department. I literally texted him minutes after putting my application in, and within an hour I had an email from HR. I had a phone interview that afternoon, an in-person interview two days later, and an offer within 72 hours from applying. It’s amazing what a connection to the company can do!

      1. SheLooksFamiliar

        Having a connection never hurts – it’s not who you know, it’s who knows YOU – but in this case there could be another reason why things progressed so quickly. Employers usually (want to) fill seasonal roles as soon as possible.

    3. MCMonkeyBean

      Dang! The only time I had a response that fast it was a scam. They called me like 10 minutes after I submitted my application and I was like hmmm, that doesn’t seem normal.

    4. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

      Something similar happened to me. Submitted my resume and application for a job. About an hour later I get an email saying they wanted to see me. However, the job ad listed one location, but the job was actually in another location (State). So I didn’t accept the interview.

    5. many bells down

      My husband’s current job wasn’t quite that fast, but as he had to fly to a different state to interview the timeline was pretty quick. Submitted resume, got a call 12 hours later. Flew out, interviewed over Thursday and Friday, and they said “we’ll get back to you by Monday.” 30 minutes later, as we were sitting down to dinner (they flew me out too), they called with an offer.

  14. DrNickRiviera

    Typo: the second sentence in the question says “employees” when it should say “employers.”

  15. ThatGirl

    I’ve had it be all over the place.

    On my last job search (this past spring/summer) I got some calls immediately and some weeks later.

    I ended up with two job offers, and the process was dramatically different for both. One I applied to, didn’t hear a darn thing for a month, then had two interviews and an offer within about 10 days. The other was a somewhat drawn-out process but it moved a little more steadily — applied, got a call 10-12 days later, phone interview, waited a week or two, in person interview, took another couple weeks for an offer. I took job B, and found out some of the reasons for the delays, including a corporate move and the hiring manager actually got laid off in there so another person became my manager. But it worked out.

  16. Mazzy

    It usually takes me 2-3 weeks to get back to applicants. I feel bad taking so long, knowing how painful it is from the other end, but I’m usually too busy with work (heck, that’s why we’re hiring!) to look at applications all of the time. Its a catch 22. Also, since most candidates aren’t absolutely perfect fits, I like to sit on them, in case a rainbow unicorn, or whatever we call it, applies, and then I would have wasted the other candidates’ time.

    1. Danger: Gumption Ahead

      We do panel interviews, so it always takes us that long to find a date where all of us are in the office at the same time :/

      1. SheLooksFamiliar

        I swear we could fill roles in half the time if scheduling wasn’t such a headache. Panel interviews are really hard to pull together, even when the panel members cooperate. And our hiring partners can’t seem to keep their calendars up to date, which drives our schedulers crazy: ‘Oh, yeah, sorry, I’m out of the country that week. Guess I forgot to block in in Outlook…’ Yeah, I guess you did. Grr.

    2. Breda

      Roughly this for me, as well. I usually put a deadline for two weeks out in the job post, and while I read them as they come in, I don’t contact anyone until that deadline. This is mainly because the initial sorting might give me 15 candidates who could do the job, but we’re only going to interview 5-6, so I want to compare the best against each other. (The worst was one time when I ended up with 30 highly qualified and smart-sounding applicants for a part-time assistant position. My boss couldn’t understand why I was having such a tough time narrowing it down until I sent her the top 10, and then she got it. This field is so competitive to get into.)

  17. clow

    Like others, my experience has been all over the place. I applied to one place and got a message back asking for an interview within a week, another place, I forgot i had applied to a job and got an email asking for an interview. Once I apply, I just move on as though I won’t hear back honestly.

  18. K.

    I went two months without hearing from a company, and then they called me on a Saturday and wanted to interview me – not schedule the interview, but interview me right then, on the phone on a Saturday morning. I’d let the initial call go to voicemail because I didn’t recognize the number and I was in the gym and then running errands. I ended up doing the interview, which took about 45 minutes (I could tell she was reading all her questions from a sheet), and then she told me that the next step would be for the hiring manager to interview me – again, unscheduled, she was just going to call. I told her that I would try to be accommodating but that I would really prefer to schedule something. I did not move forward in the process.

  19. ro

    Thank you so much for this post and all of the comments! It came at just the right time for me. I just started applying in earnest for a new job again. I did get one phone interview within hours of applying, it seemed to go well, but radio silence after for the last two weeks. It’s so easy to say “forget the job and move on” after applying, but in reality it is soooooo hard if the job sounds like what you’re looking for.

  20. MCMonkeyBean

    My experience to get my current job was so crazy. I was in a graduate school with a very good recruiting program that had like a 98% placement rate of placing students in jobs. But most of the jobs were in two big cities in my state and I wanted to move to a smaller city in between them where my boyfriend was. The recruiting program was this super long process with initial meetings over the summer and then interviews in September and October. What was great was that you could pretty much just list which companies you were interested in and you were practically guaranteed a first-level interview on campus. Then if the company liked you they would invite you to a second-level interview at their location. By the end of November nearly everyone in my class had their jobs lined up but because I had limited myself to this smaller city I had no luck. The one company I thought I was going to end up at decided they were only hiring for interns and no full time positions.

    So after this crazy long process, I had nothing. Then everything happened so fast! I got an email from my program’s recruitment director that there was a company in the city I wanted to be in who reached out to her and she gave them my information. There was a phone call which I thought was just informational and then halfway through I was like oh dang, this is an interview! Then we set up an in person interview for the following week. Just hours after getting home from my in person interview, I got a phone call from HR to talk salary. It was wild having everything happen that fast after the horrible trudge of the recruiting process.

  21. Kat

    Government jobs are also very slow. My spouse’s job had an application deadline of June 15. He went for his first in-person interview after Thanksgiving and his first day on the job was Feb 29. (Which means he doesn’t have a work-anniversary until 2020, right? ;-))

  22. puzzld

    When I was in grad. school for my MLIS my roommate (on academic leave from her academic library job) was invited to an office Christmas lunch at her work and was told she should bring me along. We sat and visited with the director while we had our lunch… as things were winding up she told me I should drop a resume’ off, if I’d be willing to consider a on year position she had. I’m still here 30 years later. So glad I didn’t ditch the lunch.

    The next librarian we hired took a good two years from initial posting to actually having someone on board.

  23. GG Two shoes

    I have a tangential question to this…

    I went through a phone interview and in-person interview in November. I didn’t hear back for 4 weeks, then was sent the corporate “thank but no thanks” rejection email. I was sad but moved on. Then, the first week in January I got a surprise email that said, “I wanted to reach out to you and see how your job search was going! I know we really enjoyed meeting with you and think you could be a great match for Company….we just need to think about upcoming roles. ” I responded and said, ‘yes, still interested, please let me know if you need anything from me.” She responded the next day with “great, I will be talking with M tomorrow about this!”

    A month later… radio silence. I sent an email last week asking if she knew of any new roles but no response.

    I should probably just move on, right? She’ll contact me again if she needs something?

    It’s just a bummer because I was moved on, then got excited again, and now I’m bummed all over again.

    1. Higher Ed Database Dork

      Yes, I mean it sounds like they are interested in you, but just haven’t found the right fit yet…so that is good, but it’s still a good idea to move on. I totally get that feeling though!

    2. Frustrated Optimist

      That’s pretty thoughtless to do to someone – get your hopes up, then ghost you when you attempt to do some appropriate follow-up. This whole process…It’s not for the faint of heart, is it?

    3. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

      Combination of things could have been in play here. It sounds like you were qualified – but – they chose to go in a different direction with someone else and it might not have worked out.

      So they called you back in. Now, did they want to use you as a “benchmark”???? That is “Two Shoes was good, and qualified, now let’s see if we can get someone better…” – that happens —

      OR – some companies have a pig-headed approach to candidates – a “one strike and you’re on our ‘never hire’ list” — even though you might be a good match for something there – and a better match for another position that you didn’t interview for. I worked for a company that had a “one strike blacklist” and managers had a s**tfit when a rejectee’s application was submitted to another group within the firm, and they hired him.

      They even had a bone-headed memo – and, I couldn’t understand that. I guess it’s manager-ego.

  24. Brett

    Our worst case I ever saw in government was 3 years from application to interview.
    The person was initially rejected based on preliminary background, but got a job in a different division of the same government. The first hire in the role did not work out, and so we re-opened the process and found no one to interview. We reclassified the position into a different unit that had a different background process and requested a new preliminary background check. The initial applicant passed this time, passed the full background, and was hired, 3 years after applying.

  25. Frustrated Optimist

    From the files of being a filler candidate: I have found it to be a bad sign when they want to schedule the first and second interviews in rapid succession – like, definitely in the same week, and no more than three days apart.

    This has happened to me twice. In each case, I realized after the fact that there had been an internal candidate and I was the filler candidate. It’s like they wanted to get me “in, out, and over with” so they could say they interviewed someone else, but then go ahead with their pre-selected candidate.

    1. Huddled over tea

      Really? When I schedule interviews like that, it usually means either a) the next step is to meet with the Head Honcho/Director/etc and they have exactly that hour available or we’d all have to wait another three weeks to find time in their schedule or b) you’re the favourite and we’re desperate to get to back in before you get another job offer!

      1. Frustrated Optimist

        I wish I were interviewing with you!

        No, the first time, I had interviews with two departments on a Wednesday, and before I knew it, they wanted me to meet with the Head Honcho on Friday. I thought it was a great sign! And then the company ghosted me for seven weeks. The hiring manager would not reply to any e-mails. Finally, I practically begged HR for an update, and, needless to say, it was a rejection. They hired an internal candidate who’d been with the company for 15 years.

        The second time, the interviewer (it was a phone screen) was talking about an in-person interview from the minute she got on the phone with me. I really mean that – she was already talking about bringing me in for basically a second interview before she had even asked me one single question. I went in for the in-person interview, had a great conversation with two members of the department, and then nothing. After about two weeks, I asked for an updated timeline and was told I wasn’t moving forward. They had also tipped their hand to me that they wanted someone to start very quickly – like, not really long enough for an external candidate to give notice at their job, but a perfect timeline for an internal candidate to transfer to their department.

  26. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    It varies – depending on the company – and their culture – and what they need.

    When I was anxious to get out of a place (1980s) it was a prime time for people in my field – I had a reputable “headhunter” and he landed three spots – I had an interview at one at 3:30 on Friday and a job offer on the phone at 6 – which served as a catalyst to get the job at another place – they didn’t want to lose me, so they sped up their cycle.

    When I was out of work (1990s) – I had a blackboard. It had four columns. One = places I just applied to and hadn’t heard back from. Column two were lists of places that returned calls/mails, and I considered the application active. Column three – active, but don’t hold out hope. Column four – the dead file. But – kept the company name there because sometimes they go back through the list, and I could recall any dialog I had experienced.

    And yes – KEEP APPLYING. If you’re looking, and anxious to move up/onward, you should have MULTIPLE applications active.

  27. Random thought

    I applied to a corporate position in a large, national company on Nov. 22 and was contacted during the last week of January to schedule a phone interview. I just had an my first(?) in-person interview yesterday and when i asked about next steps, they said they were in the early stages of their process! I’m POSITIVE that the holidays factored into it, but its still a pretty long time. I think the submit and forget advice is good, because the truth is, you just never know

  28. Scott

    I just heard back from a government job that I applied to in August (unadvertised). I really want it, so I’m going to chalk it up to government bureaucracy.

  29. Cookie

    Just got an email requesting an interview today for a job I applied to before Thanksgiving. The government moves very slowly.

    1. nep

      Whoa.
      What was your reaction when you received that email? (I guess you wouldn’t have been surprised at the long wait if you’re already familiar with government pace.) Had you found a job in the meantime?

  30. anon for this

    I’ve noticed book publishing timelines seem to be slower than average–often I get called in for an interview after I’ve decided I’m not going to hear back, a few months after the application deadline. I suspect this is partially because publishers often want to get personally involved in every hiring decision. Publishing also seems to be a real “rush from one emergency to another” industry so everything else gets put on the backburner.

  31. seejay

    Seriously, if you need a job, just keep looking. Apply to places and then pretend you didn’t and keep applying elsewhere (unless you only want to apply at certain places and are ok staying where you are and waiting on specific places). I’m looking right now and I hear back from companies anywhere between 2 hours to 2 months. Not kidding. There’s no right answer.

    Send the applications out, forget they are out there, and send out more.

      1. nep

        (Well, fresh start but of course always taking into account lessons from previous application or interview experiences. There are always lessons and ways to improve.)

  32. Mad Baggins

    I work in Japan where there is a labor shortage, and when I was job hunting through recruiting agencies of all kinds, most places got back to me with a yes or no within 2 weeks. Companies I applied to directly were slower and worse about replying at all. Some recruiters are just getting back to me 6 months later but that seems very unusual. It’s nice to work in an employee’s market, so to speak (though there are other downsides of course!)

  33. Overeducated

    Any encouraging stories of long waits in government AFTER the interview and selection by hiring official (meaning the hold up was in HR or somewhere up the chain)? What was the longest it took?

  34. nep

    Once I hit ‘send,’ I forget about the job and move on to crafting the next cover letter and resume. Best for me is to just put it right out of my mind. (I always copy and paste the job ad, just in case it eventually comes off the employer’s site and I hear back months down the line.)

  35. nora

    I applied for two jobs the week before US Thanksgiving last year. One had no closing date. The other had a closing date of December 4th, so I expected to hear back from them shortly thereafter. On November 22nd I interviewed with the first organization (two or three days after I applied). On December 1st I went to an open house at the first organization and met the CEO, who told me that she was already a big fan of mine based on what the hiring manager had told her. On December 4th they made me and offer and I accepted happily. I started January 8th.

    The other organization, which, on its face, was my preference, called me on January 8th to schedule an interview. I politely told them I had already started another job. I sincerely hope that the other org speeds up its hiring process next time. Who knows how many good candidates they’ve lost!

  36. FurloughedGovernmentMule

    Applied for a high-level Federal position, and got the USA Jobs confirmation of a completed application. EIGHT MONTHS (and counting) later, not a word.

  37. Lotsoferrors

    Common sense would tell us that, like any human system, there would be a wide range. But that doesn’t get you attention on a blog.

  38. Laura in NJ

    For me it’s between “just short of never” and “never”. I don’t even remember the last time I had an interview, it’s been that long.

    1. nep

      Same — in my current job search (nearly a year now), so far it’s been never.
      So I keep on keepin’ on…

  39. Sans

    Timelines are all over the place. My current job was FAST. Got a call one week after I applied, had a phone interview a few days later, went to an in-person interview the week after that, got an offer the next day. But I’ve also gone on interviews where everything went great, they talked about how they wanted to bring me back to meet the whole team … and then I didn’t hear from them for six months. And at that point I had already started another job.

    I assume nothing. I don’t even try to make sense of it anymore.

  40. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2

    I might also add – “gumption” applications can slow the process down. I worked for a company once and was on the other side of the desk, screening resumes/CVs. It was company policy that we had to acknowledge receipt of ANY application – so we printed postcards.

    We placed an ad in the Boston Globe (1990 – bad recession year) – for a highly specialized position.

    We had over 400 responses. Three of us spent two afternoons going through and replying. I must have written > 100 post cards with the stock “we will keep your application on file”. Out of the 400, I would guess that only 50 knew what the position was about at all. Some applicants didn’t even provide a skills set for themselves.

    We weeded the 50 down to 35, sent invites to around 12 to contact us for interviews. It took over a month and we weren’t helped when the hiring principal was called to a sequestered jury for three weeks. From posting to hire – 2 1/2 months.

  41. Anonymissy

    I too have personal experience of a wide range of times for hearing back but Usually within 2 weeks. I was laid off and applied to approximately 30 posted positions in 4 months. About half received no responses. I also received a few recruiter pings (some of whom also didn’t respond after I replied I was interested to learn more)

    The majority of requests for phone screening interviews came between 2 days and 2 weeks after application submission. I ended up with 2 offers: one company didn’t respond to initial application until 2 months later – they had posted and then revisited job requirements and afterwards moved really quickly once they contacted me. HR phone screen, hiring manager phone-screen, on-site interviews and offer in less than 3 weeks. The other contacted me within a week of application and process took 3-4 weeks to receiving the offer.

  42. Bea W

    My experience last year when I was actively looking was anything from less than 24 hours to 6 months. Most seemed to be within a couple weeks.

  43. JoAnna

    I once applied for a job in July (the site said they were accepting applications until September 1) and got a call for a phone interview in October, long after I had assumed I hadn’t made the cut for a callback. Ended up not going further than that, but yeah, some people’s hiring processes just take a long time.

  44. Bookworm

    For a large law firm (as in, they have international offices so they’re pretty big) it took months before I heard back. It had been so long (2-3 months I think) that I had completely forgotten what this job was about and had to scramble to do some quick research to figure out what was going on.

    I’ve also had same day responses (submitted a resume in the morning, got an email in the late afternoon requesting times for a phone interview). They even offered me the job within the week’s time.

    If they want you, they’ll let you know. I’ve had several instances where they tell me by the end of the week. Sometimes only after I email to follow-up. And I’ve had a few (two, recently) where we even had an interview and they have not notified me either way (by this point I’m fairly certain it’s not going to happen but it’s extremely disappointing not to get even a standardized note to know they moved on). Hiring people: I know you’re busy and you’ve got a lot on your plate, but it really is helpful to let people you’ve interviewed that you went with someone else. It’s frustrating to prep, travel, spend time with the interview, etc. only to NEVER hear back, even after a follow-up.

  45. youngprofessionalanalyst

    In my first job out of school, I did a phone interview within a few weeks of submitting an application, but there was almost a month delay between that and the request for the in-person interview. I had written it off and thought they had moved on without notifying me when I received the request! So, to anyone looking, remember that sometimes this process can take longer than we as the potential employee wants it to, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude a good outcome!

  46. IWentHojo

    My senior year of college I applied for a position with a very large (Fortune 500) company, specifically as a part of their Teapot Sales Leadership Program. I interviewed in person over spring break (middle of March). I heard nothing back at all, so I continued on with my search and in late May I received offers from two different companies. I accepted one, and scheduled to start on July 1st. Two days before I started, large Fortune 500 company called to offer me the job. Three and half months of no contact later. Needless to say, I declined.

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