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How Long to Wait Before Following Up After a Job Interview

Here’s the scenario: you’ve interviewed for a job and it seemed to go pretty well.  It’s been a week and you haven’t heard anything.  Now what should you do?  Keep waiting?  If so, how long?  Call HR and ask what your status is?  Call the Hiring Manager and ask why you’ve rudely been kept waiting? (okay, this is a bad idea by any measurement!)

Just exactly what is a reasonable time to wait before following up after a job interview?  This is a tough question for most job applicants and I’m now going to give you some guidelines.

First, let’s talk about initial interviews.  Two weeks is not an unreasonable amount of time for a company to respond to applicants after the first interview, especially if it’s a big company and a large number of applicants are being interviewed.

In today’s tough job market, a job opening can easily get 50 to 100 applicants or more.  After reviewing the resumes and screening for the most qualified candidates, I will typically bring in four to as many as ten for an initial interview, depending on how many resumes are received and how many of those are highly qualified.

With this many interviews to conduct, it can easily take two weeks to complete them and most companies will typically want to interview all candidates before making a decision as to who to bring back for a second interview.  This means that if you are the first or second candidate interviewed it may be up to two weeks before you hear anything.  Even if you absolutely aced the interview, they will still want to complete them all before deciding which ones to bring back.

If you’re fortunate enough to make it to the second or subsequent interview round, things will happen much faster.  The interview pool will be smaller and it will frequently take no longer than one week to interview the final candidates.

So here’s the bottom line: don’t get too nervous until two weeks after an initial interview and one week after a second or final interview.  If you haven’t heard anything after these time periods, it’s perfectly acceptable to follow-up with a call to the HR department or to the person who scheduled your interview.  DO NOT at this point call the person (s) with whom you interviewed or the Hiring Manager.

In my next post, I will explain in more detail exactly why your first follow up should be to HR and how to follow up in a way that is respectful and shows you are a professional.

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