Interview Feedback: How Long Should You Wait?

by Mark

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The anticipation after a job interview can be nerve-wracking. Whether you feel that you’ve aced the interview, or are simply looking for constructive criticism on how it went - now you’re left wondering: How long should you wait for feedback?

In today’s post we explore why feedback takes as long as it does and also look at some strategies for managing the post-interview waiting game.


Understanding the Hiring Process

To understand how long things can take, it can be useful to review the typical hiring process. It unfolds across four main stages:

  1. Job Posting and applications: Companies/recruiters advertise job openings, receive applications, and sift through them, often using applicant tracking systems

  2. First stage interviews: The hiring manager selects candidates for interviews, which could involve a single round or multiple sessions

  3. Follow-up stages: After your initial interview, the company informs you about the next steps. This could involve a second interview or additional assessments, such as psychometric or ability assessments

  4. Decision: The hiring manager, HR representatives, and other team members discuss the interviewed candidates before making a final decision


So, one of the first things to consider is how far along this process you are. Often the hiring managers would like to see several applicants for first stage interviews, before making a decision about who to take through to next steps. Depending on the number of interviewees, that could mean anywhere from a couple of days to well over a week before you hear about whether you’ve made it to the next stage.


In addition, if you’ve taken any assessments as part of the process, they will need to be marked and reviewed, which adds additional time to compile and review.


Most firms will adopt a two or three stage process, depending on how many people they feel you should meet and how many stakeholders are involved in this hire – with a smaller pool of candidates at each stage. Again, this can add weeks to the process as diaries are aligned and meetings scheduled.



What major factors hold up the feedback process?

There are many factors that can add to a delay in getting feedback to you, in addition to the hiring firm having lots of applicants and assessments to process:

  • Annual leave. A key stakeholder or decision marker might be on leave which can delay the process by a week or two. Ideally you would be informed about this – especially if it’s the holiday season

  • Other priorities. This could be an emergency that had to be handled (work or personal), project deadlines, end of year finances or some other deliverable. You may not be informed about this until after the fact

  • Unexpected changes. Maybe the hiring manager left themselves and filling that position became a priority, or budgets for that business unit were cut and the role had to be put on hold. Again, you should really be informed about this unless it is competitor-sensitive information

  • Inability to decide on candidates (several strong candidates came through, all of whom could do the job well) – this may result in an additional stage to decide between candidates, or just a long delay while they decide who would be the best option

  • Red tape around putting together an offer and running background checks – this is common

  • Comms lines. Quite often a recruiter will be reliant on an HR person in the firm. The HR person will themselves be reliant on a hiring manager, and that hiring manager may need to speak to stakeholders and finance before making the decision!


How long should you wait?

It’s fairly normal to wait for five days before asking for feedback. This allows the hiring managers to catch up with the HR team and/or the recruiter to get the feedback to you.


However, it’s actually a good idea to ask how long the process is likely to take at the end of the interview or to your recruiter so you get a clearer picture of when it’s appropriate to chase.

Also check your notes from the interview – did the interviewer mention anything about timelines anyway? If you’ve been given a timeframe such as “a couple of weeks”, then it’s best to wait until that time has almost past before making enquiries.


In the meantime…

There are several options for things to do while you wait:

  • Continue with your job search – don’t put all your eggs in one basket

  • Send any additional information that might be useful – especially if the interviewer asked to see anything specific

  • Send a thank you email to the hiring manager for their time and ask if they’d like to see any additional information


Not hearing back

If there are long delays of several weeks, it’s essential the hiring firm or recruiters keeps you in the loop – and they should know this. It is not uncommon for candidates to drop out of a process that is taking too long. If you don’t hear from them and you don’t get a response to enquiries, it likely means you weren’t successful. While this is quite unprofessional, it still happens, and you should be prepared to keep your job search going as a precaution.


However, you are well within your rights to follow up with a polite email to the hiring manager asking for any feedback that could help you in future if you’ve not heard back in over two weeks.


Issues with feedback.

Ideally, you should receive some detailed feedback whether you are through to the next stage or not, or even if you’ll be receiving an offer. If you’ve been successful, this will generally be all on the positive side. If not, there should be some nuggets of constructive criticism that should help you in future interviews - be grateful for that if that is the case.


However, in the real world, some hiring managers will simply ‘move on’ and not provide their HR team or the recruiter with any feedback other than a “no, they weren’t right”. Again, while unprofessional, it still happens a lot. You are well within your rights to pursue the feedback here – with perhaps a polite email asking the hiring manager for more detail or suggestions. If none is forthcoming, press on with the job search, don’t get too hung up on a firm that can’t communicate with your properly – that would suggest it wasn’t right for you anyway.


We hope you find this useful. At Ellwood Consulting, our consultants are dedicated to guiding you through the interview process and we work closely with our clients to ensure you get timely and useful feedback from your interviews – a cornerstone of our relationship with you. If you’re thinking about making your next move, get in touch today to discuss your options with one of the team.