You went on an interview, waited anxiously by the phone for three days… and nothing. No response. So why does it take so long to hear back from an interview?
Well, there are a couple of reasons that I’ll cover in this article. And the good news is this: Most of the reasons *don’t* mean you did something wrong or that you’re out of the running for the job. You just need to know how to handle it.
So take a deep breath, and we’ll go through the likely reasons you haven’t heard feedback from an interview yet.
Even if everything goes right in terms of the process, it takes at least a couple of days, or up to a week to hear feedback after your interview. Any less, and you’re lucky.
Why? People in the company need to get together, compare notes and discuss your interview after. Even if just one person met with you, they’ll probably share their thoughts with their team, their boss, HR, etc.
And they need to compare you against the other candidates they’re considering. So it always takes some time to do that too.
Now, a few things can make it take longer than usual, or result in you not hearing feedback for more than one week, so let’s look at those reasons now…
Let’s address the most obvious reason first. There’s a chance the company isn’t interested. And they don’t have the decency to let you know promptly (not cool, I know!)
But like I mentioned earlier, there are a whole lot of reasons that DON’T mean you’re out of the running for the job. Not at all. So let’s look at those because there’s a really good chance the company might still be interested if you play your cards right and follow up properly.
Here are the other possible reasons:
You might have been the first person they spoke to, and they’ve scheduled five others. It’s not fun, but it happens. And it means you’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to hear back after the interview most likely.
This is why I recommend asking about time-frame and next steps after your interview. (“When can I expect to hear feedback? And what will the next steps look like in the process?”)
It’s one of the best questions to ask the interviewer because it’ll remove a lot of stress and anxiety after the interview. If you know they have to speak to five other people, you’re not going to be sitting by the phone the next day wondering why they haven’t called you yet.
Hiring is a complicated process and often requires a lot of people to give their input, speak with you, or at least sign off on the process and say “okay, go ahead and make this person a job offer.”
And if just one of these people is out of the office or on vacation, it can slow the whole process down and result in it taking longer to hear back from an interview. This is one of the reasons I say summer is not one of the best times to look for a job… because a lot more people go on vacation.
Usually the hiring manager and other team members have a lot going on besides hiring. They’re building products, making the company money, saving the company money, or any number of other things.
And important things come up. To you, the interview and hiring process is the most important thing in the world. You need a new job! I get it…
But remember it’s probably not the top priority for them. It’s just one piece of their duties.
So they will have no problem delaying a decision, postponing an interview, or putting a job opening on hold for weeks or even months if the group has too much going on! Even if they already started the process with you.
They can’t always predict what will come up in terms of work and deadlines, so that’s why this happens.
Sometimes companies decide they don’t need to hire someone right now, or they’re too busy to do it (for reasons mentioned in #3 above).
So they put the position on hold indefinitely. It doesn’t mean they didn’t like you, it just means they can’t hire anyone right now.
Sometimes budgets get cut too. Or they open another position that’s more crucial. For example sometimes when a company needs a new Manager, they decide to hire that Manager first, and then let the Manager hire other team members.
This is another good reason to follow up instead of assuming they’re not interested. Sometimes things get lost in the shuffle.
The greatest risk of this happening is when you initially submit your resume, but it can happen after the interview too. Maybe there’s a new HR person who lost track of needing to schedule the next steps with you. Maybe the hiring manager thought he sent you an email with feedback but never actually sent it.
Any number of things could have happened for you to “fall through the cracks” and not hear back after an interview. Following up is the simple way to make sure it did *not* happen. Here’s how…
I highly recommend this article for exactly how and when to follow up after your interview.
And here are the best email subject lines to use.
In general, you’ll want to seem professional and clear/direct (don’t beat around the bush or be hesitant or timid), but also be understanding that things take time. Don’t freak out if they say they’re interviewing people for two more weeks, for example.
But in that first message, be clear. Say you haven’t heard back yet, you wanted to check for an update, and any information they can share would be great. Use the follow up email to confirm your interest too. For example, you could say, “Hi, I haven’t heard back yet so I wanted to check for updates. I’m really excited about what I learned in the interview so anything you can share on your end would be great.”
But if they reply and say things are delayed, don’t freak out or act rude or impatient.
That’s *not* professional, and is a mistake that will cost you the job.
That’s why I wanted to cover the five reasons above for why it takes so long to hear back from an interview. So that you’ll know what’s going on and follow up confidently, but also wait when necessary without freaking out. That’s the key to staying on the company’s good side while also making sure they don’t forget you after the interview.