When to Expect to Hear Back From an Interview

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Ask for your potential job’s decision time frame at the end of your interview.
Ask for your potential job’s decision time frame at the end of your interview. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Aside from the job-seeking process itself, the after-interview time frame can be the most stressful because you are waiting for a relative stranger to decide your professional fate. You can alleviate this stress by researching prior to or asking for the decision time frame during your interview. If neither of those options pan out, a few general rules exist regarding decision waiting periods after an interview and what you can do to facilitate the process.

Research

Job listings are sometimes specific as to an employer’s hiring time frame. Whether you found your job opportunity through a newspaper classified, online job bank or professional recruiter, some will blankly state when they need to fill the position. Mark this date down on your calendar, as well as the date two weeks prior to it. Most employers ideally want to decide at minimum two weeks prior to their desired fill date to allow for negotiation, changes of heart and paperwork. Knowing this time frame in advance will give you an idea of when you can expect to hear back after an interview.

Ask

If you’re working with a recruiter, ask him when you can expect to hear back. If not – or, if he isn’t sure – the perfect person to ask is your interviewer. According to the AARP Work Foundation Network, the ideal time to ask about the decision time frame is at the end of your interview just prior to your final handshake. In fact, some interviewers will provide this information unprompted. Either way, mark the date on your calendar; you may need to reference it during follow-up.

Thank You

Always send a thank you note within two days of your interview. While a hand-written note traditionally provides the most impact, if your penmanship is lacking, a typed note or email is perfectly acceptable. According to Carole Martin at JobBank, “think of (your thank-you note) as one more chance to put yourself in front of them.” Use it as an opportunity to address “any concerns you may have picked up or any thought you had about the position since the interview.” Use the same degree of formality as your interview; if your interviewer asked you to call her Amie, address your thank you: “Dear Amie.” If not, keep it formal with “Dear Ms. Martin,” for instance.

Follow-Up

If you received a decision date, try to wait at least one additional day prior to following up. If you were not able to get a decision date, wait at least one week from your interview. In either case, give your prospective employer at least two to three days to respond to your follow-up. If you still do not receive a response, consider it experience and move on to other opportunities. Do not call a third time.

Considerations

Countless reasons may exist for delays in final candidate decisions that have little or nothing to do with you. Waiting periods depend on the size of the company and its human resources department, the number of job applicants, necessity of position and possible position scope changes. Be patient, professional and persistent in your search. Remember, however, that persistence for one position should stop at two follow-ups: the thank you and general follow-up. After those, be persistent with a new potential position.

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