How Long Should I Wait After an Interview To Follow Up?

Updated June 9, 2023

Everyone who has ever interviewed for a job knows what it's like to wait for a response from a potential employer. An interviewer missing a follow-up deadline could leave a candidate wondering if the company has moved on with another candidate in the hiring process.

In this article, we address how long to wait after an interview before reaching out to an employer.

How long should I wait after an interview?

Typically, it's best to give interviewers at least five business days to contact you. That means if you interview on a Thursday, you would wait until the following Thursday to reach out. This could mean you are waiting a week or longer before you get a response from the hiring company, provided they do reply. It's also a good rule to offer a small buffer period for companies to get back to you beyond the designated timeline. For these purposes, it's best to give an additional one to two business days.

Send a thank-you note as soon as possible after the interview. An email is a nice gesture, but a hand-written, mailed note is more meaningful. Express your continued interest in the role and gratitude for the interviewer's time. While you want your letter to be a sincere message of gratitude, this is also an opportunity to provide a paragraph that reiterates why you're the best choice for the position.

Genevieve Northup, MBA, SHRM-CP, HCI-SPTD

Related: How to Introduce Yourself in an Interview

Why do companies take so long to reply?

There are a number of reasons why companies may need time after your interview before following up, including:

  • The interview process continues

  • Vacation or unexpected illness

  • The candidate search is paused

  • Departmental confusion or organizational needs

  • Job offers take time to prepare

Related: What Is the Average Response Time After an Interview?

The interview process continues

An obvious reason that a company may not contact you after an interview right away is that they are still interviewing other candidates. It's common practice for HR departments to interview many people over a number of days or weeks. If your interview occurred at the beginning of the process, they may be reviewing all the candidates before they make calls for a second interview.

Make sure to send a thank-you email within 24 hours of your interview, and then give the company time to work through all eligible candidates.

Related: FAQ: How Long To Wait After an Interview To Send a Thank You Letter

Vacation or unexpected illness

Sometimes planned or unplanned events occur that slow down the hiring process. This could be a scheduled vacation of a hiring decision-maker, an unplanned illness or an emergency that keeps the hiring manager out of the office for days or weeks at a time. If the company has provided you with a scheduled timeline of when you should expect to hear back from them, plan to give them a buffer of about two business days to account for unexpected occurrences, vacations and other staffing lapses.

The candidate search is paused

Many different events can cause a disruption in the job search. Some examples include extended emergencies, lack of requisition funding from a board of directors or turnover within the company. If a company has paused its search for candidates, it could take weeks or even months to resume. You'll have to decide if you're in a position to wait and if the position is worth waiting for.

Related: The Hiring Process: What To Expect at Every Stage

Departmental confusion or organizational needs

Sometimes candidates in a big candidate pool get less individual attention when HR departments are busy trying to meet all the needs of the organization without the resources they need to perform more effectively. While this can be frustrating, a more organized HR department will offer better communication and follow up. If this is the case, it may be a sign to wait for opportunities that value candidates and communication.

Job offers take time to prepare

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that new college graduates typically receive job offers more than 24 days after their first interview. While this is a small market segment of workers, these insights may be an indicator of how long it takes companies to prepare offers and the many steps required to get to the offer phase. Sometimes companies just need more time to prepare and ensure you are the best candidate for the position.

Related: What To Do After an Interview: 9 Tips to Help You Succeed

Tips for following up after an interview

Follow these steps before you follow up with your interviewer:

  • Respect existing timelines.

  • Give five business days.

  • Send a follow-up email.

  • Understand you may not get answers from HR.

  • Move on with your job search.

Respect existing timelines

If the hiring manager has told you it's going to take two weeks to reach the next steps, make sure to give them the full two weeks. It's advantageous for you to show you can be patient and adhere to the instructions given. Alternatively, they may reach out a couple of days after the interview and ask for more time and share an updated timeline. As long as a company is communicating with you, that's a good sign, and you should respect their wishes and wait the full time requested.

Related: How To Make a Good Impression After Your Interview

Give five business days

If no timeline is provided, give a company five business days (or about a week) to come around and offer next steps. Consider adding two more business days to any timeline you are adhering to. This gives the company a buffer to respond to you when they are ready to talk.

Send a follow-up email

If you've waited five to seven business days and haven't heard anything, a follow-up email may be appropriate. To write a follow-up email, choose a suitable subject line, open by thanking the interviewer again, say something exceptional that sets you apart from the competition and end with your contact info. It's also important to show enthusiasm for the job and to be positive no matter how long you have been waiting.

A thank-you note is another touch point with the hiring manager. Refer back to anything memorable that was discussed or occurred during the interview. This can bring attention to your candidacy and help you distinguish yourself from other candidates.

Genevieve Northup, MBA, SHRM-CP, HCI-SPTD

Learn More: Follow-Up Email Examples For After the Interview

Understand you may not get answers from HR

Human resources departments don't always have all the answers. The person you are corresponding with could be a hiring manager, HR coordinator or another role. Nonetheless, they likely rely on others involved in the hiring process to put together the information needed to address any questions. You should send a follow-up email, but do it with the expectation that the person you are trying to reach may not be readily available with all the answers to your HR questions.

Related: How To Respond to a Job Rejection Email (With Examples)

Move on with your job search

If it's been an appropriate amount of time and you haven't heard anything from a job in spite of sending a thank-you email and subsequent follow-up, it could be a sign that you should move on with your search. Even interviews that you think were great don't always end up leading to employment. However, a company that doesn't communicate with interviewed candidates may not be the optimal work environment for you anyway. There are many companies that prioritize communication and hiring resources, so moving forward with your search might lead to an even better opportunity.

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