You’ve had your interview and you feel it went very well. But it’s been over a week and you haven’t heard a thing. Is that bad news? Good news? No news? You’re tired of looking every 30 minutes at your email inbox and phone messages and wondering what to do now.
Should you just keep waiting? How long should you keep waiting? Should you call the company to find out what’s going on? If so, who do you call? HR? The Hiring Manager (bad idea, but we’ll get to that). These are all natural questions to ask yourself when you’re waiting for a call back after your interview.
How Long Should You Wait After Your Interview?
This is a difficult question for anyone. You don’t want to appear desperate by checking back too soon, but you also can’t help but worry that maybe they misplaced your information (hint: this very rarely happens).
So how exactly do you decide how long to wait before following up? I’m going to give you some guidelines that work under most circumstances.
After the First Interview
Let’s talk first about your initial interview. You probably don’t like hearing this, but two weeks is not uncommon for a response after a first interview. This is especially the case for big companies that may be interviewing a large number of applicants.
Some job openings for highly desirable jobs in large companies can receive dozens of applications. When this happens for one of my openings, with all my other responsibilities it can easily take me a week to review all resumes and screen them for the most qualified candidates.
Typically, I’ll try to target four to as many as eight or nine for an initial interview, depending on the number of applications received and how many of them meet the qualifications
When there are eight or nine (sometimes even more) interviews to conduct, it’s not unusual for this to take two weeks to complete. Add to this the week or so it takes me (or any Hiring manager) to review resumes and decide who to interview. This now adds up to almost three weeks sometimes before all candidates are interviewed.
Even if you’re the first one, you likely won’t hear back until all candidates have been seen. The reason for this is that most companies will interview all candidates before deciding who gets a second interview and who doesn’t. Even if you absolutely nailed the interview, they will still want to talk to everyone before deciding who to bring back.
It would certainly be nice if they called and told you it would be two or perhaps three weeks before the next interviews are scheduled, but many companies simply don’t bother. You’re just left hanging.
As with many things, there are always exceptions. If the job is such that there are only a small number of people who may be qualified, or if you’re a known professional who is in high demand, you will get a call back within a day or two.
If you know for a fact that you are one of only two or three candidates called in for the first interview, or if you’ve been invited to interview because of your reputation, you will not have to wait long after the interview. In this case, if it’s been two or three weeks, you definitely should be concerned!
After the Second Interview
Fortunately, things start happening much faster if you make it to the second or subsequent round of interviews. The number of candidates will be much smaller and it will usually take no longer than a week, if even that long, to complete the interviews and make a decision.
So here is the rule of thumb. Don’t start to be concerned until two weeks after an initial interview, and one week after a second or a final interview.
If you haven’t been called after these time frames, it’s perfectly acceptable – in fact, it’s expected – to follow up with a phone call. That call should be made to HR, NOT the Hiring Manager or anyone else on the interview panel. At least not now.
Always Start with HR
HR is almost always in charge of communication with candidates until the final interview with the Hiring Manager. They handle all administrative work for all interviews and will know the status of the hiring decision for you.
Also, the Hiring Manager may still be doing interviews and simply doesn’t have the time to personally follow up and talk to all applicants. The is the job of HR and the Hiring Manager expects you to make HR your contact point until told otherwise.
In addition to all this, I’ll tell you that, as a Hiring Manager, I strongly dislike getting phone calls directly from people I’ve interviewed. If they didn’t make the cut, it’s a very awkward call. If they did make the cut, HR will already be scheduling them for another interview and it’s a wasted call for both of us.
At this stage in the process, your only follow-up with anyone outside of HR should be a thank-you letter or email after your interview. When you always and only communicate with HR, it shows proper business etiquette and that you are respectful of other’s time.
There is one exception to this. If the company is very small and doesn’t have a formal HR department, calling the Hiring Manager may be your only option. But even here, you should always try to first contact an administrative person, receptionist, or the Hiring Manager’s assistant. The Hiring Manager should be your last resort.
If You Still Decide You Must Contact The Hiring Manager – Do It the Right Way
If you still feel you absolutely have to follow up with me directly, do it by email, NOT by phone. I’ll still resent the intrusion, but at least I can respond when it’s best for me. It also lets me be better prepared to respond if you didn’t get the job, which is very uncomfortable to handle on a phone call.
But also know that an email is easy to ignore and frequently is, so you may still be left hanging.
There’s a special way to follow up with a Hiring Manager via email that will put you in a more positive light. Find an interesting article or perhaps a news release and attach it to the email.
This is a way of following up without really following up. You can say that after your interview you came across an interesting article that applied to the organization’s business and you want to pass it on. End the email by saying you look forward to hearing from them soon.
This shows that you did your research both before and after the interview and is a very subtle way to inquire about your status. At a minimum, it makes you look less desperate!
If I can’t talk you out of calling the Hiring Manager direct on the phone, then at least let me tell you a way to do it with the least amount of damage.
First, send a polite email to explain that you like to followup-up directly for a status check on where you stand. DO NOT simply do a cold call. This will almost without exception lower your status with the Hiring Manager.
In your email, suggest three different days and times for you to call. Politely ask if one of them will work and if not could they suggest an alternative that does work.
Your odds of getting a positive response are higher using this type of approach, although the odds are still low that you’ll get a response at all.
I strongly advise you to stick with HR. This is always acceptable.