how quickly should I respond to interview invitations?

A reader writes:

I’m a month away from graduating college and am job searching for my first full-time professional job. I’ve sent out a lot of applications the past few months, with several replying and subsequently setting up an interview, although no offer has come through yet. I check my email once or twice a day and always make sure to get back to them within 24 hours.

I’ve never had someone email me asking to interview who then called it off or said anything regarding it. But my fiance thinks that they aren’t interested in me because I respond too slowly. He works in the tech field (I do not) and says they are looking for people to respond within 2-4 hours or it seems I’m unmotivated. He also grew up in this area (a large city) while I’m from a smaller town across country. I really want a job but I’m having a hard time believing it’s such a huge rush to respond within four hours and secretly dooming me. Is it true though? Personally I think only having one internship is coming back to bite me in the behind.

No, that’s not true! You can ignore your fiance on this.

It’s totally fine to take up to 24 hours to respond to an interview invitation. No sensible employer is going to judge you for not responding in four hours. People have lives! You could be at work, traveling, sleeping, running errands, caring for a child, gardening … all kinds of things. It is very normal to spend 4+ hours doing something other than being in front of your email. If they want to interview you, they’re not going to decide they’re not longer interested just because they emailed you at 3 p.m. Tuesday and you responded at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

At least not generally. There are some people who hire who treat candidates as if they’re interchangeable, decide they want to set up five interviews, and set them up with the first five reasonably promising candidates they get ahold of. With those people, if you miss their call, you’re out of luck. But that’s not how most people do it, it’s not considered a good practice, and it’s not even what your fiance is talking about — he’s talking about employers removing you from the running because you don’t look interested enough, and that’s definitely not the case.

However … If you can respond sooner without any hardship, I would. Hiring managers’ schedules tend to fill up quickly, and the time slots that are available right now might not be available 24 hours from now, which can complicate the process. And sometimes the people who arrange interviews are sloppy or disorganized, as with any job. So if you can respond more quickly, it’s smart to do that … but no sensible employer is holding it against you that you took a single business day to get back to them.

All that said, it is true that most people do respond more quickly than 24 hours. Usually when I email an interview invitation, I’ll hear back from the candidate that same day or that evening. But that’s just what’s common, not what’s required. There’s no “2-4 hour” expectation in play, and plenty of people do take 24 hours or so and it’s fine.

If for some reason it takes you much longer than that (not like 30 hours, but like they email you on Monday and you don’t respond until Wednesday), at that point I’d include a quick explanation when you respond — like “I’ve been traveling” or “sorry for the delay, this went to my spam folder and I missed it initially” or whatever the reason is. That’s the point where it does start looking a little unusual that you haven’t replied yet, and it’s helpful to give some context for it. A good employer still isn’t going to take you out of the running if you don’t (unless there’s some scheduling reason on their end), but it’s still a useful thing to do.

{ 122 comments… read them below }

  1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    No rational employer is going to judge you for not responding to them while you’re at work at your current job!

    1. Oxford Coma*

      In that situation I would think it would hurt more than help. Appearing to surf your e-mail/goof off during work isn’t a good look. Even if there are extenuating circumstances (you happened to be on PTO that day, or you have an unusually-shifted schedule) it would probably be smart to be conscious of how an overly fast response during standard business hours would look. YMMV, of course.

      1. Oxford Coma*

        ETA: Probably should have specified that I generally have a lot of downtime while running test suites and similar procedures, so I don’t look like a hypocritical dingbat. :p

      2. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

        It’s normal in many jobs that you can read your personal email during lunch break or other breaks. It’s not goofing off, and I don’t see why someone would get that impression. But of course being at work is a good reason for not responding immediately to emails, because in many jobs you wouldn’t be able to do that. I have at the moment a job like that. I got an interview request in my email one day at about 11am but only got to read it when I was at home. By then, the interviewer had already tried to call me too, a few hours later. I saw it when I finished work and called back. Fast forward to today: I got the job. And I was a few minutes late at the interview too! It’s really not about things like that when you’re the best person for the job.

      3. SG*

        My current role in recruiting involves a lot of interview requests and responding and I can tell you I don’t think anything at all of how quickly someone responds. If you take more than 48 hours I get a bit annoyed, but like, any time before that is a-ok.

  2. voluptuousfire*

    I work as a recruitment coordinator in the tech space and I’ve never had any expectations of when to expect a response back from a candidate I reached out to for an interview. If I don’t hear back within 5 days or so, I’ll follow up and close them out.

    You’re doing it right–within 24 hours is generally a good rule of thumb. When I was looking for work, I did the same. I might wait a little more if it were a company I had to think about if I wanted to work for. (Usually came to that point after digging into Glassdoor reviews and finding my enthusiasm waning due to poor reviews that were buried in a sea of positive ones.)

  3. Snark*

    I would not look askance at a reply within 2-3 days. More than that would be strangeish, but still wouldn’t communicate unmotivatedness.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes! And anyone who has a 2-4 hour deadline for a response must value speed over quality, because not all of the best candidates will respond in 2-4 hours, and eliminating them for that is pretty ridiculous in most circumstances. I wouldn’t be happy or comfortable working for a company with those priorities.

    2. Keep Your Eyes On The Prize*

      It’s a red flag to me if a company rejects applicants because they didn’t respond to an email in a 4 hour window.

      1. Gregor*

        Agree, kind of leads me to believe the company would be fine filling the position with any warm body that doesn’t absolutely repulse them during the interview.

        1. Amber T*

          Yep, or has ridiculous expectations of my attachment to my phone and email, especially during off hours.

    3. SunshineOH*

      I agree, but I will say that the longer you wait, the higher the chances are you won’t get in. Not because of conscious “this person is eliminated because they didn’t respond,” but more of “my schedule is filling up and I have enough good candidates in the first 10 replies.”

      1. Tuckerman*

        Eh, if I’m asking 5 people to come in for interviews, I want to meet with all 5. There’s a reason I selected them, and will accommodate their scheduling limitations, within reason.

        1. OhNo*

          Agreed. Every time I’ve been part of a hiring process, we only ask people to interview if we really do want to talk to them. I’ve never seen someone issue more invitations that they had interview slots here, but maybe that’s a company-dependent thing?

        2. lulu*

          True but if it’s more of a first phone screen, the thinking might be I’m going to talk to 10 people in order to select 5 to come in for an interview, so if you don’t answer within a couple days they might not need to talk to you after all. This is more the case for entry level positions with fewer requirements.

        3. Anonymeece*

          I had this situation recently where I was hiring and we had 7 applicants. We contacted them, and one of them said he couldn’t make it – and then gave *us* a one-hour window on a specific date for when he could meet. We gave him another time when we were all free (committee of three people), and he replied again that he couldn’t make that.

          At that point, we had already interviewed several strong candidates, and none of us were very impressed by this guy, so we ended up telling him thank you but no thank you.

          I try to be accommodating, but it also depends if I’ve got a strong pool of candidates or not and how quickly we need someone in the job, so replying sooner is best policy, but not an unbreakable rule.

        4. TootsNYC*

          yeah, I don’t have enough time to be interviewing people I’m not actually interested in exploring.

      2. Seriously?*

        I think that is more of a risk if your schedule makes it difficult to schedule the interview. If you wait to respond and there are only a few slots left it seems like they would tell you the times they have available and there would only be a problem if you have a very inflexible schedule.

    4. Archaeopteryx*

      I’d take an expectation that candidates would reply within 4 hours as a flag that the employer will demand you be available to email/text at all hours after work and never disconnect, which is very unhealthy!

    5. whingedrinking*

      I had a prospective employer get huffy with me because their call went to voicemail. I said, “I do apologize if you were inconvenienced. I tutor privately and I was with a student at the time.” The huffiness lingered. This was for a teaching position – you’d think they’d *want* teachers who don’t pick up their phone when they’re working, but apparently not.

    6. Anonymeece*

      I feel like there was some kind of post about this before, or maybe an article, where an employer basically had a “time limit” and wanted people to race to respond like it was some kind of time competition rather than, you know, who would be the better fit. They would deliberately email very late at night or in the wee hours or on the weekend just to see who would reply first.

      If I recall correctly, it had quotes from the person, and I remember thinking, “I would NOT want to work for this person!”.

  4. Tasslehoff Burrfoot*

    I can’t seem to wait a full 24 hours. I’m probably communicating “needy and desperate” because I get back just as soon as I possibly can. In fact, if someone calls during my workday it’s all I can do to wait for my lunch or for the day to end to get back to them. *sigh* This is what being miserable at work has reduced me to.
    So – I wouldn’t wait 24 hours. But that’s me.

    1. ThatGirl*

      I tend to want to read emails as soon as possible, and then respond as soon as possible, because otherwise I may forget, or get distracted, or it will get buried under other read emails. So that’s me.

      But if you only have time to check your emails twice a day, I don’t think anyone should fault you for that. I would, personally, try to respond as soon as possible after reading, though.

    2. Bea*

      You’re not communicating needy or desperate at all. I respond immediately, my phone is always nearby and my job doesn’t require I wait until a break time. While searching last year I frequently had people reach out during business hours and state clearly they understand any delays due to me being at work. I still responded immediately in most cases, within an hour if I was knee deep in a project that was away from my desk.

      1. Pollygrammer*

        When I was a teenager in the olden says, everyone would deliberately let the phone ring two or three times before picking up, even if they were standing right next to it.

        We called them I-have-a-life-rings. :)

    3. BRR*

      You don’t project needy or desperate by responding quickly! I promise nobody judges for receiving quick replies. The most someone will think is “they must have been in their email when they got my message.” That is if they even notice at all.

    4. SL #2*

      I’m the exact same way. I always get comments like “wow, thanks for responding quickly!” if I answer within 3-4 hours, which is already on the slow end for me; I aim to respond within 2 hours at work, unless it’s past 5 pm… then they can wait until tomorrow morning.

      1. And So it Goes*

        I concur. I hire subcontractors and if they don’t get back to me by end of the day or evening that does not bode well with me. It is not a deal breaker but part of the equation. And the good ones will apologize immediately if they are later than that. You are in the same position – strike while the iron is hot – get back to them as quick as you can, it is to your benefit for all the reasons (schedules..) mentioned above. Back in the day of phone answering devices and phone services I would check those on my lunch hour while I was on site. Quite simply put – I wanted the work!!

        The largest contract I ever got – which led to SEVEN years of consulting work, was partially because I responded quickly…that was the first thing the Director of Operations said to me after she received my proposal.

        Good luck with your job hunting!

    5. Little Bean*

      I don’t think responding quickly signifies neediness. I just sent out 7 interview invitations the other day and got the first reply within a few minutes. 6 of the 7 people responded within 5 hours, and the 7th never responded at all.

    6. Penny*

      I’m the same way but maybe age has something to do with it. I’m on my phone a lot, so I can respond to emails quickly. An older worker may not check emails that often.

      1. Not a Morning Person*

        Because an older worker has better things to do than constantly checking email? Hmm?

      2. soon 2 be former fed*

        No ageism! I’m 62 and respond quicker to emails than anyone I work with. Folks my age are on their phones a lot too. Icheck my email all the time. Don’t stereotype please.

    7. pleaset*

      I think a good practice in semi-professional life outside the main job is to have one or two periods a day you are responding to emails. For me, it’s in the morning as I’m reading the news, and again in the evening. So I basically get back to everyone within 12-14 hours.

      One of my professors used this approach (and warned us students not to except responses more frequently).

    8. Mad Baggins*

      I think this is it. People job searching are often desperately looking to get out of their current situation and may be checking their email more frequently. I can see how that would lead an employer to mistake that for interest. But who knows what crazy employers will do.

  5. The Original K.*

    I’m actively interviewing right now so this is timely! I just got a request for a second interview. The contact at the company called me to discuss it and threw out a few times, I said that days x and y were best, and he said he’d be in touch. He followed up via email/meeting request later that afternoon (maybe six hours later) and I replied accepting the proposed time about half an hour later. I’d say I respond to all job-search-related emails that I get during normal business hours on the same day; emails that come in after normal business hours are typically answered the next morning.

    I think the only time I didn’t respond within 24 hours was when I was traveling out of the country, visiting my grandfather on his deathbed a few years ago. Between the travel and the situation, I was pretty off the grid for the first two days there. By the time I checked my email, I had two emails from a recruiter that were sounding kind of panicked. So I emailed her back right away and said that I was out of the country attending to a family emergency and would not be available for the rest of the week but that we could talk when I was home. She said OK, apologized for both panicking and for the emergency, and we connected when I got home.

    1. Jessica*

      Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but what you say here about the timing makes it sound like you only work on your job search while you’re at your current job.

      1. The Original K.*

        I’m freelancing now so I have more flexibility. I use my personal email for my freelance work, so I’ll see emails from recruiters or hiring managers or whatever along with everything else. I can dash off a “Yes, that day and time work, see you then” email in response to an interview request. When I’ve had a traditional full-time job while job-searching (I did when my grandfather was ill – I took PTO to see him), I would still respond to an interview request on the same day I received it; I would just usually do so at lunch or after work. All applications were submitted on evenings and weekends.

  6. Naomi*

    OP, you said you haven’t had anyone pull an interview invitation or say anything about how long you took to respond. Is your fiance suggesting that employers are going ahead with the interview but secretly disqualifying you for taking too long to respond? Because even employers who don’t care about wasting your time aren’t likely to waste their own time by interviewing you if they know they’re not interested.

    1. Letter Writer Emily*

      Letter Writer here! He just says he thinks it makes me look unmotivated if I don’t check and respond immediately, and thinks it might influence them. Not a total disqualification but a bad first impression at least. Apparently that’s how it goes at his firm.

      1. dr_silverware*

        It sounds like his firm may be pretty startup-y, which would explain a lot–but the rest of the world really doesn’t work like a startup. Thank god for that :)

      2. Kala*

        Definitely seems like a tech start-up thing. Is he also working at a company where you can apply on a Monday, be hired on a Tuesday, and be working on a Wednesday?

      3. Little Bean*

        I disagree that 24 hours makes a bad impression! However, I do think waiting 24 hours is a bit unusual, so I can maybe see where your boyfriend is coming from in that respect. In my experience, most people respond to an interview request as soon as they get it, and most people check their email at least a couple of times a day. So assuming it’s daytime, I typically see responses within a few hours. I *might* notice it if one candidate out of a pool didn’t respond until a full day later but I still wouldn’t hold it against them.

        1. Observer*

          In my experience, most people who keep their personal and work email separate don’t check their personal email multiple times a day.

          I imagine that this varies by industry, but I’d really hope that an employer wouldn’t treat not being obsessed with your email as an outlier.

    2. EBStarr*

      Yeah, and… this isn’t a relationship advice blog, but the blamey-ness of your fiance’s response to the extremely normal situation of having a few interviews that don’t result in offers (especially given you’re still in college and don’t have much work experience under your belt) is a little weird to me. Especially since the thing he’s saying is kind of illogical, as Naomi points out.

      1. EBStarr*

        Oh, just saw your response above! It sounds like I misread your letter as him saying this more forcefully than he really did. Sorry. :)

        1. Letter Writer Emily*

          He means well, I just think his field is a little more prone to being tied to their devices 24/7 and can’t imagine not reading emails the minute they come in. It is getting a little annoying though, which is why I wrote in. :)

          1. Naomi*

            Hmm. Does his company expect him to respond instantly to e-mail outside of work hours, too? I have to wonder if he’s working at a place with no sense of work-life balance and has internalized some skewed norms.

          2. MicroManagered*

            his field is a little more prone to being tied to their devices 24/7 and can’t imagine not reading emails the minute they come in.

            I had this thought when reading your letter. Appearing “connected” might be more important in his sphere than yours. Next time it comes up, I might just say something like “I wonder if that’s more true in tech than areas like teapot-design.” That really takes the focus off of is Fiance right or is Emily right? Because it might just be about different norms in different industries.

          3. Akcipitrokulo*

            Fair enough… but tbh if an employer did have that expectation, and judged a next day email by those standards and didn’t hire someone? Bullet dodged.

          4. only acting normal*

            If he’s that reactive to emails how does he ever get anything else done?
            Sounds very field specific. I’m in a STEM field and people need good stretches of time to concentrate. Reading and responding to every message as it came in would look weird here.

  7. Lisa Babs*

    If possible, I would suggest that the OP checks her email every evening. Because it still seems like you are highly interested just has a life during the day. BUT there is nothing wrong with 24hours.

    I work at a very small company (4 people) and we hire maybe every few years. Most people reply right away or that evening. Taking 24 hours wouldn’t ever take you out of the running BUT it’s not typical.

  8. Hey Karma, Over here.*

    Your boyfriend is trying to convince you there are little tricks to getting a job. There is no magic sequence of: applying in the beginning/middle/13.5 hours before the job closing deadline followed by respond to an interview request at 1 hr 45 minutes and be 8 minutes early for your interview.
    There really aren’t.
    You write the best letter and resume you can, you follow submission instructions, you respond to the interview request in a timely manner, which means giving yourself enough time to reply carefully so no typos or oops, forgot I have an appointment that day, can I reschedule.

    1. jo*

      Exactly. Your boyfriend works in tech and is expected to be online 24/7, but if his firm invited a strong candidate who responded 6 hours later–or even 24 hours later saying “sorry for the delay, I was on a deadline yesterday”–I doubt they’d reject that person for not knowing the secret handshake. At least I hope they wouldn’t, if they’re smart.

      A) you don’t work in tech, and B) there’s no secret handshake. If you’re not getting enough interviews, work on your application materials again; if you’re not getting offers, work on giving stronger interviews.

  9. SpaceNovice*

    Reasonable employers/recruiters are not like this. If they discount people after 2-4 hours, they obviously have no sense of perspective on how life works. You don’t want to work for these people! They’ll expect you to put your job before absolutely everything!

    Respond timely. That’s all you need to do to seem interested. If you can respond sooner and don’t need time to mull over an offer for an interview, then do so. People that are reasonable will work with you.

  10. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

    You’re still in college and presumably the hiring managers know that. Whether your schedule is actually busy or not, it’s reasonable for them to think that you’re in classes or meetings all day that take up your time! When I was job hunting in college I often would not be able to respond until late at night, when the hiring managers would not definitely not receive the responses until the next day, and it was never an issue. Job hunting is stressful enough — you can let yourself breathe on this part of it.

      1. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius*

        Heckkkkkk yeah. I couldn’t decide between this or Bingpot, but then figured this would be an easier reference :)

  11. Irene Adler*

    Wondering if the advice would be different if it is a recruiter contacting the candidate to set up an interview (instead of a direct employer).

    After submitting a resume in response to a recruiter’s job ad, I’ve been contacted by them (by phone or by email) and been ghosted when I replied a mere hour or two later. My assumption is that the recruiter contacted a bunch of candidates and simply took the first ones who responded. And unfortunately, I wasn’t among them. That hour or two delay cost me a shot at a job.

    And this has happened to me many times. It’s not just a one-off experience.

    1. Discordia Angel Jones*

      That does seem to happen with recruiters. They have hundreds of candidates and I think just run quickly through the list.

      When I was jobsearching I made it a policy not to answer these calls because tbh I am not interested in working with recruiters who don’t seem to give much thought to the hiring process.

      1. Irene Adler*

        Thank you for responding. This makes me feel better. Was getting the notion that it was just me this was happening to.
        Well, I have to consider every source in my job search.

        1. Observer*

          That’s true. But it’s also worth considering that with recruiters like that, it’s SOOOO much a matter of luck that making yourself crazy is not all that useful. Also, people who recruit by throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks are likely to waste your time with jobs that are not a fit AT ALL.

    2. BRR*

      I think in general there is a lot of ghosting in the hiring process. It’s not a great criteria to use the speed at which candidates reply to an email.

  12. Letter Writer Emily*

    Letter Writer here! I’m glad to hear I’m not crazy! I do check it a little more now just to get him off my back. I also often do respond within 12 hours or so (24 has been the max). I’ve been a bit resistant to check it every 2 hours because it’s seriously demoralizing to check a separate email 8x a day everyday and get nothing.

    1. EmKay*

      It seems like maybe your fiancé has internalized some not so great practices from his job, and is trying to foist them onto you, perhaps subconsciously. You could point this out to him, or you could roll your eyes internally and let it go. (I don’t want to start an argument at your house!)

    2. Little Bean*

      If you wanted to get more timely notice without having to check your email all the time, could you set up alerts on your phone? I get alerts so I can see who it’s from and what the subject is, but unless it’s urgent, then I only actually log in and respond to things like once or twice a day. I am not sure how it works but gmail is good about only alerting me when it is an actual email to my primary account and not like spam or a promotional email.

      1. hbc*

        Yep, alerts, or forwarding if there are certain key words in the email or something. Then there can be a once or twice per day double check, but anything interesting is likely to come up immediately.

      2. jo*

        This is a great suggestion! Eliminate the demoralizing email checks altogether! (I’d still check once every morning or evening just to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.) You can even get your fiancé to help you set it up, if you want to humor him with an opportunity to feel like he’s being helpful.

  13. Cordoba*

    I always try to get back to people in 24 hours for job hunt related emails.

    2-4 hours is unreasonable. You could easily miss that entire window if you were just taking off on a medium-distance flight when they sent the mail and truly didn’t have any email access during that time frame.

    Also, people do sometimes do things like go to movies, ride motorcycles, or go out to dinner with their grandpa – all situations where you can’t or should’t give instant replies to emails for a few hours at a time.

    Any employer who will decline to offer me a job because I’m not watching my inbox with continuous eagle-eyed focus and responding instantly is welcome to do so. I don’t want to work there anyway. If they’re that unreasonable during the recruiting phase they’ll be unbearable to work for.

    1. Observer*


      I’d also add that you probably don’t want to work there even if they don’t outright decline and just get a bad impression.

  14. Bea*

    You’re a month away from graduating, I’m sure that process takes most of your energy and it makes sense to check emails only a couple of times a day. Most hiring managers are contacting already employed folks as well, they know many cannot respond within the same business day and should have adjusted expectations.

    However someone responding quickly can seem engaged and excited about the position, that can leave a nice impression. I wouldn’t say you’re being discounted but you’re also not standing out in my experience.

    1. jo*

      Oh, I don’t think that’s fair. She’s more likely to stand out because of her qualifications and application materials, not because of her lightning-fast response time. A strong candidate is a strong candidate at any time of the day.

  15. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I work in tech & have not found employers adamantly require 2-4 hour response time (& I have / currently work for some big, well-known companies). A 24-hour response to an interview request is perfectly acceptable, & even a little longer is fine, especially if there’s a specific reason, such as travel. For example, I got my current position two years ago while I was on vacation in a different time zone, & a lot of email & phone communications were delayed as a result.

  16. EA in CA*

    I was a recruiter for a Technology firm, people usually called back or replied to my email within 48 hours. I don’t chase down people except for hard to fill positions, they get more leeway due to the level they are at (upper management or executive level).

  17. Otterbaby*

    I’m definitely that person who responds within a few hours – not necessarily because I think it helps my prospects, but because I’m keen to get a meeting scheduled! That being said, I find that often times after the first email the interviewer sends, they can take up to a few days to respond and actually set up the interview. I think sometimes job-seekers assume that interviewers are as excited about the interview as we are, when realistically they have a million other things happening in their job and we’re towards the bottom of their to-do list!

  18. Bea*

    I am feeling like a crazypants for having my email attached to my phone. I don’t “check” anything or have to go out of my way to see emails when they come in.

    Granted the only time I get emails is when I’m job searching, some coupons and as my primary contact with my former boss for long winded catchups every few months. It would drive me bonkers remembering to check, that’s how my old AF OG Yahoo account was deactivated due to not signing in for whatever time they required.

    1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Nah, you’re not crazy. My email is on my phone too. I read stuff as it comes in (or quickly skim, depending). But I don’t always *reply* right away. That waits until I have a few moments.

      1. k.k*

        Same here. I glace at my phone pretty often just out of habit, but I don’t respond to personal emails during the work day unless it’s something fairly urgent.

      2. The New Wanderer*

        I read emails on my phone (and get the alerts, which help too!) but I rarely respond right away because I don’t like typing on the phone. If it’s important, I’m not going to be at a keyboard reasonably soon, and the answer can be short, then I will reply in the moment. Interview requests fall on this line – if it’s a first contact from a recruiter asking for details, I’ll take the extra hour or two and find a keyboard. Confirming an appointment, I will use my phone.

    2. GG Two shoes*

      I have my work and personal on my cell, but I don’t keep my cell near me at work (and sometimes at home to detriment of all my friends and family.) I also set the alerts on both work and personal emails to not have an alert on my phone because having to constantly see them would make me want to respond no matter the time/response needed.

      1. Bea*

        My horrible old boss used emails instead of texts and that was one of the reasons I started dreading having my work email on my phone. A week before I gave notice, I uninstalled that god forsaken thing, I was suddenly relieved of a large chunk of stress. Nothing like an email at 5am that passive aggressively schedules a meeting to write me up to remind me why my dad tried to raise me to leave work at work. Bleh.

    3. Hmmm*

      I think that’s normal, but that doesn’t mean if someone doesn’t have time to respond to an email instantly, that they’re a bad candidate! Surely there’s times you get an email and aren’t able to answer right away, even though you know it’s there.

      1. Bea*

        Very true, the delayed response makes sense to me. It’s the having to remember to log into a mail server that throws me for the loop!

        But I also am a texter and use my phone for everything. So I forget how others don’t have unlimited data and hate phone keyboards, doh.

  19. boop the first*

    Where did fiance’s suggestion even come from, since you say you’ve been getting interviews this whole time?

  20. AcademiaLifer*

    Remind’s me of my (idiot) father-in-law. My wife was job searching (currently employed, just looking to move on) while we were visiting her family. We suggested going to see a movie, and FIL told my wife that she couldn’t go and I was bad influence as a husband for suggesting it. His rationale: since she was on the job market, she could never be anywhere that she couldn’t take a call. He then treated us to a long-ass lecture about how if an employer has to leave a message, they count that as a strike against the candidate, and if you don’t call back (or respond to an email) within FIFTEEN minutes, you have no shot of consideration… (P.S. we went to the movie

    1. whingedrinking*

      I wonder how he thinks that would work if one were applying for jobs in other time zones. Are you not supposed to sleep?

  21. Dancing Pangolins*

    Timing wise, I like to take some time to respond so I can check my schedule (not just whether I can take that hour off, but weigh in whether I need a whole day off, what else is going on at work and in my private life — think medical procedures). In previous jobs I actually had to formally request the time off, which meant having to wait for a response from my manager (ugh, one time she denied me…). I now have more flexibility so it’s not a concern , but still need to weigh in several factors. Oh, and in my industry it’s typical to prepare a custom portfolio, so I need to take into account how much time it would take me to put that together in addition to the typical research and prep needed to excel in an interview. And then so many of us work at cubicles (read no privacy) so we wait until we can have thag privacy at home and craft anthoughful response.

    But, OP also seemed concerned about how few interviews she has lined up, wondering if her response time is to blame. But really if you’re not getting interviews you need to look at the following as likely factors: quality of cover letter, quality of resume, and whether your qualifications, interests, and experience fit the job you are applying to. If you’re not sure how you’re doing on those things, turn to your university’s career center for help, or look for a company that specializes in your field to help you present yourself in the best possible light. Or look on AAM for tips on all things job search.

    1. Dancing Pangolins*

      Ugh, typos/typing on a phone. See this why you shouldn’t rush to respond right away.

    2. Environmental Compliance (was Environmental Navy Wife)*

      ^^ This. If I’m job searching while holding down a job, and someone contacts me with potential interview times, I’m going to need a little bit of time at least to figure out what works within my current job schedule. I also was a field staff person, so if I was out in the field, I didn’t have my full calendar in front of me, and I would respond when I returned. Sometimes that meant I got an email at 9AM and didn’t respond until 4:30PM. Still got the job I’m in right now, because normal hiring staff should understand that people have current jobs, current general life requirements, that also take up time.

      Also – what about time zone differences? My current company’s HR department was in two time zones over from where I was. If they emailed me at their 8AM (my 6AM) and expected an answer in <2 hours, they'd be outta luck.

  22. k.k*

    I’m sure there are some employers out there who operate like this. On the other hand, there are probably others who would look at an instant reply and think that you must be checking your personal email during work/class and take that negatively. Basically, if any employer is giving too much weight to how long your responses take, they are probably not people you want to be working for.

    1. JM in England*

      The problem is that you cannot tell from outside which category the employer falls into, making it a potential no-win scenario…..

      1. The Flash*

        It is also true that in this day and age, you can easily respond to personal mails on a phone or iPad.

        You should err on the side of responding quickly.

        1. Observer*

          Just because you CAN doesn’t mean it’s the right thing. And an employer who doesn’t get that is likely to be a nightmare to work for.

            1. Observer*

              If it means obsessing and not doing other things, that’s a problem. For most people being able to respond in a 2 hour time frame on a consistent basis would require one or the other (or both)

      2. Elsajeni*

        I think that’s the point, though — this is in the realm of “some hiring managers are weirdly fixated on specific details and will ding you for not using the exact email subject line they would have or wearing flats instead of heels,” it’s something you just can’t control or predict, so all you can really do is nail down the stuff you can control (resume, cover letter, professional behavior) and have faith that about as many people will take a weird liking to you as will take a weird dislike to you.

  23. SusanIvanova*

    I wonder if the tech area he’s in is gaming software? They get away with a lot of seriously dysfunctional practices because there’s an endless supply of new people thinking it would be so cool to work on games.

    Pro tip: it really really isn’t.

    1. Tau*

      Honest truth: I considered seeing if I could go into video games when I decided to switch careers and become a software dev, but what you said there was basically the reason why I opted not to even try. I didn’t have any experience with gaming software, just read some stuff online, but the “people think it’s cool -> many applicants -> worse working conditions” jumped out at me. I now have a job in a different area of tech that doesn’t have the same coolness rep but which I really enjoy, and where my employer treats me very nicely as they know they’d have a very, very hard time replacing me.

      (I also didn’t answer interview requests in 2-4 hours, and somehow still managed to land several job offers.)

  24. WorldsWorstHRPerson*

    Most of us do not expect a reply immeadiately. Most of our best candidates are already working or in school so we know they have other things to do. When days go by, we tend to question interest but not hours.

    I have met recruiters who expect immeadiate reply and, trust me, they usually work for companies you don’t want to work for.

    Once in a while there may be a time crunch and they will normally let you know in the voicemail or email that they need to hear back by a certain point.

    My suggestion would be that if you are actively searching, try to reply same or next business day when a prespective employer contacts you. About 2 – 3 days is the most I would let go by.

  25. smoke tree*

    When I have some job applications out, I try to check my email fairly regularly, but I’ve had lots of employers wait several months after the application deadline to write back, and also choose to write back at 11pm. I’m not sure I’d want to work for anyone who judges me for not answering that until the next morning.

  26. KX*

    I had one of those jobs I was at for a month and never put on my resume. (It was a startup.) The interview process was full of red flags that I sensed, but didn’t have the savvy at the time to ignore. I applied for the job via email, had a phone screen. Then, I had an interview with the person acting as HR on a Wednesday or Thursday. She said she needed to talk to the CEO, who was traveling through the weekend.

    They called me on Monday for another interview, and when I got there I got a long lecture about how I needed to convince them they should invest in me and if I even cared at all about this job or about appearing professional. They were skeptical of my interest, they said, because I hadn’t followed up with them after the interview. They had to contact me first.

    1. It was only FIVE DAYS after the interview that they called me back.
    2. The CEO was TRAVELING for four of those days, and wouldn’t even return to the office until Monday.
    3. They called me MONDAY MORNING. When would I have followed up by then? “Early next week” hadn’t even happened yet.


    1. Bea*

      Omg you actually worked there after all that?? Even for a month…what other horrible things did they do? They seem absolutely dreadful

      1. KX*

        WORSE. It was WORSE.

        At that in-person interview with the CEO, he extended an offer on the spot. He said he would email it that day, and I clarified with him that he would send the letter that day and that I should expect the letter that day. He even showed it to me on the computer, already written.

        He didn’t send it that day, so I waited until the end of the next day and then followed up with him about it. He sent the offer within five minutes after I followed up.

        I was fired after four weeks, but I wasn’t sorry. The work wasn’t even interesting.

        1. Observer*

          You were fired for lacking the ability to mind read, I suppose.

          What a jerk. Is the place still in business?

          1. KX*

            Yes. The one profitable service they provided is still provided, but the other products/services they were trying to launch don’t seem to be on the market. So they muddle through!

  27. The Flash*

    I agree with AAM and the commentators who argue it is unreasonable to expect a reply within 2-4 hours.

    That said, there ARE people (especially in the fast-paced tech industry) who will take this position, reasonable or not.

  28. Pins and Needles*

    When I recently applied for a federal job, following the two interviews, I received four emails right away. They were sent within a few minutes of each other in the following order.

    1. The first one invited me to take a drug test and informed me that I only had 3 days in which to do so.
    2. The second told me that I had received a conditional job offer and would receive more information in a following email.
    3. The third one wanted me to fill out a GIS background check and that I only had 5 days in which to do so.
    4. The fourth one again stated that I had conditionally been offered a position, and that I had 7 days in which to accept or decline.

    A fifth email reminding me about the drug test was sent on Friday morning.

    I responded to the emails on Friday afternoon, a bit longer than 24 hours later, and accepted the position. I then responded to the GIS background check form, lastly to the drug test invitation which told me that I had 5 days to go and get tested at fairly nearby facility. Since it was now late Friday afternoon, in reality I could only realistically get tested some time during the first 3 days of the following week, but it didn’t specify a definite time. I phoned the drug-testing facility and they told me to drop by anytime during the first 3 days of the week before 5:00 pm on Wednesday. So I did that.

    Now I’m waiting to see what happens next. Hope I get an offer.

    Still, the three differing deadlines all related to the same job was really annoying. It totally seemed like the employer was really disorganized and unprofessional. But that’s our guv’mint.

    1. UK Civil Servant*

      Ha! Yes. That’s several different agencies contributing to the process, all operating on their own internal timelines with no link or cohesion. Governments are so big, they’re not really one employer. What’s scary is when you get used to it!

  29. MyBossSaidWhat*

    You’re both right: the tech world can be a little unhinged. The industry is… not always making good choices when it comes to recruiting or human capital.

    This week I’ve seen from recruiters:
    – a triple-call in the middle of the day
    – when I didn’t respond within an hour, a series of increasingly agitated voicemails from the recruiter’s boss
    – “Fine bitch you’d rather let your children STARVE than work!” (Job paid less than half what I make now…)

    Blog forthcoming.

    In short, The IT industry is a race-to-the-bottom hellhole and I strongly suggest your fiancé find another way to make a living.

  30. Any Mouse*

    I have witnessed my employer reject people for not responding within one hour. It is a terrible practice, not applied uniformly, and it has a notably damaging impact on my attempts to hire someone.

    I have tried to push back on it, without success.

    Side note: when I say this is “not applied uniformly”, I mean, much to my unbridled rage, it is applied to our pool of minority summer intern applicants from a special internship/scholarship program. I’m still trying to figure out where to take my complaint to. Any suggestions?

  31. dragon_heart*

    I have another question regarding scheduling interviews, somewhat related to the LW’s issue. What if you schedule an interview but had a minor emergency 1-2 hours before? This happened to me recently.

    I was scheduled to go to an interview and I even took a half day PTO. I suddenly get a call from my kid’s school telling me to pick him up immediately because he is running a fever. I call the company and apologize, asking if we could reschedule.

    The response? The HR person said she can’t guarantee the reschedule. So is this good as gone?

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Maybe? But she didn’t say no, right? Likely she doesn’t know the schedules of the relevant people. How long has it been?

  32. Carla*

    I applied for a job I wasn’t really interested in a few years ago but figured I had nothing to lose, it was a fairly easy application process. When I got a call from them to interview, I basically ignored it and forgot about it while I continued looking at different options. When I remembered I never got back to them, two weeks had gone by so I thought it was too late to respond. Then I told a friend about it and they convinced me to call back anyway. I was trying to think of a good excuses I could use since I was sure they would ask why I was getting back to them 2 weeks after they called. When I called and tried to explain myself, they jumped right into a phone interview and asked when I could come in person. Turns out they really needed for someone and I didn’t even have to lie about why I was responding so late. So it depends. Some employers will probably reject you if they don’t hear back within the hour. In some situations, they will just be glad you got back to them, even if it’s two weeks late. But my rule is to always try to respond to a job interview invitation within 24 hours. In my case, they were desperate and they turned out to be a pretty good employer.

Comments are closed.