Why Does It Take So Long to Hear Back After an Interview?

Man waiting for phone to ring

Going on a job interview is nerve-racking enough, but the relief you feel once the interview is over is often short-lived. Before you know it, a few days have passed and you’re stressing out about when you will hear something back and if you’ll be offered the job.

Why does it always seem to take so long for a company to get back to you after an interview? Even if you feel like the interview couldn’t have gone any better, you shouldn’t be surprised if weeks, sometimes even months, pass before you hear back.

While it is frustrating, worrying and often inconvenient to have to wait, keep this in mind- it’s not you. It’s just the nature of the process. While timetables are different for every company and with every position, the hiring process almost never runs completely smooth and on-schedule.

There are many factors that play into the length of time it takes for a company to complete a successful hiring process, and thus the length of time you may have to wait before you hear back after your interview.

Don’t overlook the obvious- they may simply still be interviewing candidates. For every job posting a recruiter advertises, an average of 200-250 applications are received. Filtering down applicants to a handful of interviewees can take a long time. The number of candidates a company plans to interview was decided long before you had your interview. No matter how well yours went, you may have been one of the first interviews and it could be weeks before the other scheduled interviews have been completed. The average number of interviews per candidate is 2-3.

The average time from interview to job offer is 2-4 weeks, depending on the company. If they have completed the interview phase, they may be having trouble making a final decision. Perhaps there were two well-qualified candidates and the interview team is torn as to who the job should be offered to. A situation like this could stall the process while a final agreement is reached.

If a decision has been made, they may be conducting background checks. This process could add days, possibly weeks onto the timetable before they have even made a job offer. If you hear from any of the references you provided that they have been contacted, that’s always a good sign and it generally means that you are a final candidate.

It may have been a failed search. Some companies have a documented hiring process that must be adhered to and if any of their requirements aren’t met, then it causes a failed search. This would put the entire process on hold while the position description and job requirements are re-evaluated, re-approved and re-posted, starting the entire process again from the beginning.

There are many reasons that it might be taking what feels like forever for you to hear back after an interview. In fact, you might not hear back at all. While it is polite, not all companies make it a policy to call everyone they interviewed once they have made a decision. Not hearing back right away doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t get the job, but at some point you need to be prepared to move on.

Don’t forget to continue your job search while you wait to hear back. No matter how well you feel the interview went, you never know all of the factors in the decision-making process and in the end, you might not be the lucky one to be offered the job this time. Don’t waste valuable weeks that could be dedicated to pushing forward in your search because you are counting on getting this job. Your biggest mistake could be in missing out on a better opportunity because you’re waiting on an offer you’re hoping will come.