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After your final job interview, there are pretty much three possibilities:
- You get an offer.
- You don’t get an offer.
- You spend way too much time waiting to hear if you’ll get an offer.
Unfortunately, even when the first or second scenario is where you ultimately land, the last scenario’s the most oft-faced reality—and the cause of a lot of stress and anxiety.
After spending weeks trying to get your foot in the door, this waiting period can be confusing and frustrating. It’s especially stressful if you’re pretty sure you nailed the interview.
Here are answers to some of the questions you might have while you’re waiting for a job offer.
How long does it take to get a job offer after the interview?
In my experience, it takes two to four weeks on average to hear back after your final interview, but there’s no standard time. According to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the average time from interview to job offer is 23.5 days for recent college graduates. “Often, with my clients, I hear back from them several weeks post interview letting me know they landed the job,” says Muse career coach Eloise Eonnet, but it depends on the company: “At big companies like Google, [it] usually takes up to eight weeks.”
Why can it take so long to hear back after an interview?
One thing the average applicant can tell you is that it often takes much longer to receive an offer than a company told you it would. Why is it that even when you’re given a date, people rarely get back to you when they say they will? Is there a secret code that says keeping you in limbo is a best practice? Or are there, perhaps, uncontrollable circumstances preventing them from at least giving you an update?
As an HR “insider,” I’d like to peel back the curtain for a moment and let you in on exactly what’s going on behind the scenes after you’ve wrapped up that final interview round.
Here are five common reasons you might be getting radio silence:
1. They’re interviewing other candidates.
It’s not easy to think about, but you’re not the only person interviewing for the position. With approximately four to six candidates invited in for each opening, and each candidate going through two to three rounds of interviews, the process can take a long time. If you end up being one of the first people interviewed, that means you’ll have to wait until all the other candidates are done before anyone’s able to a) make a decision, and b) notify you of said decision.
2. They’re collecting feedback from every interviewer.
Even if the last person you interviewed with all but offered you the position right there on the spot, usually the other interviewers need to weigh in, too.
Depending on the company, the process could be as simple as each person sending an email with a brief summary of the conversation along with a hiring recommendation, or it could be as involved as filling out a questionnaire that asks involved parties to measure each candidate across specific competencies, assign a rating, and provide supporting commentary or documentation.
In an ideal world—where no one gets sick, has a family emergency, or goes on vacation—collecting feedback can easily take a couple of weeks, so when you add in any one of these variables, the lag time can become considerably longer.
3. They’re busy with other job duties.
In addition to being a key player in the interview process, the hiring manager also has a job they’ve got to stay on top of. Although making a decision on the status of your candidacy is an important item on their to-do list, it’s likely far from the only item. And even if they genuinely thought they’d be able to let you know within a certain timeframe, an urgent request or unanticipated project might demand their attention and delay the hiring process.
4. They just haven’t made a decision yet.
Sometimes when you’re told that a final decision hasn’t been made yet, you need to take this information at face value. The process of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding a new employee is a costly one, both in terms of time and money, so it’s in the organization’s best interest to be 100% certain of its choice before any offers are extended.
5. They aren’t offering you the job.
Sometimes, and this is unfortunate, the radio silence is a result of a company failing to notify you that you haven’t been chosen. While this is unfair—especially if you’ve gone through multiple rounds—it actually happens quite a bit. If this is the case, take some time to reflect on what you did well—wrote a stellar cover letter, delivered a compelling elevator pitch, impressed them during your first round or two of interviews—and make sure to do more of that as you continue your search.
What should you do while you wait to hear back from an employer?
A good piece of advice is this: Don’t hit pause on your job search until you’ve officially received an offer.
So while you’re waiting to hear back, you can be looking for more open positions that interest you, tailoring your resume, writing cover letters, and submitting applications. You also may get other interview invitations in the meantime—and you shouldn’t slack on your interview prep just because you’re waiting on a possible offer.
When can I follow up after a job interview?
Your first follow-up after a job interview should always be a thank you note to each person who interviewed you—ideally within 24 hours. But once you’ve done that, you should typically wait three to five days after the window you were given in the interview.
If you’re not told up front how long it will take the employer to get back to you, you should always ask during your conversation. But if you didn’t get a clear answer, you can email the hiring manager to ask for updates after 10 business days.
However, if you get another job offer while you’re still waiting to hear back after an interview, you can follow up regardless of how long it’s been since you last checked in.
How long is really too long to wait for a job offer?
In general, if you don’t hear back from the hiring manager two weeks after they told you they’d be in contact, you can probably assume the company has decided to go with another candidate.
It’s OK to follow up to try to get direct confirmation that no offer will be made, but don’t dwell on it—or the annoying waiting time. Once you silently acknowledge that it’s obviously their loss, it’s time to cut your own losses and move on.
Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.