How long does it take to hear back from a job application?
Waiting to hear back from a job application? Here are some of the time frames you can expect at different stages.
What you'll learn:
- How long it takes to hear back from a job application, at different stages of the process.
- How, and when, to follow up if you haven’t heard anything for a while.
- Will you always hear back from an employer?
- How long is too long to wait for a response from an employer?
- Why it can take employers so long to get back to you.
You’ve nailed your CV, whipped your cover letter into shape and hit that big shiny ‘apply’ button … and then, nothing.
There’s little more frustrating for job seekers than waiting to hear back from applications, but unfortunately it’s part of the game.
Today, we’re going to look at how long this can take, the communications you can expect from employers, and how to follow up on a job application.
Waiting to hear isn't fun, but it's part of any job hunting experience.
How long does it take to hear back from a job application?
Job hunting is a process with several steps. Here are the time frames you can expect at different stages:
1. How long does it take to hear, once you’ve applied?
When you apply for a job on Trade Me Jobs, you’ll get an email from us confirming the application has been successfully sent. Note: this isn’t from the employer themselves.
Generally, however, you’ll also get an email from the company you've applied to. This might be an automated communication, and will normally thank you for your submission and give you an idea of potential timeframes.
2. How long does it take to hear if you have an interview?
From here, next steps will start to vary depending on the company and their processes.
- Phone screens: you may receive a phone call within the first week after submitting your application where you chat with a member of the organisation’s HR team. This preliminary phone screen interview is usually less than 10 minutes long, and covers basic questions around your qualifications, work experience, availability and desired salary.
- Interview requests: if you’ve been successful in securing a first round interview, generally expect a call or email within the first couple of weeks after your application to inform you of this.
Perhaps the best piece of advice we can give you is to look at the application closing date on the job listing. If you found the ad later in its lifespan, you’ll usually have to wait a shorter amount of time than if you’re onto it the day it goes up.
Note: just because a listing has a closing date of April 1st, doesn’t mean you will never hear before this date – most employers are keen to start the interview stage ASAP.
3. How long does it take to hear back from a job interview?
Again, different employers do this differently. Some might contact you on the day thanking you for your time, while others may wait.
Key to putting your mind at rest here, is asking the interviewer about next steps at the end of your first round. This is a perfectly legitimate question, and will prevent the guessing game as you wait for the phone to ring.
Generally, the expected timeframe to hear back from a job interview is one to two weeks.
Be sure you understand the time frames for the different stages of your application.
How and when to follow up on a job application (with examples)
Waiting gets frustrating, and it’s good to show enthusiasm, but don’t let impatience scupper your job hunt. Badgering the hiring manager isn’t a good look, so before following up, check the listing again and any past communication from the company. If they’ve given you a timeframe that hasn’t passed, or has only just arrived, hold fire.
If the timeframe has been and gone, or they didn’t give you one and a couple of weeks have elapsed, it’s time to send a follow up email.
There are different approaches to this, depending on where you are in the process. Below is an example of some of the main ones, with some templates you can use for your own follow ups:
Following up on your initial application
If you’ve had no response at all, and have an email address for the person handling applications, simply shoot them a quick message restating your interest in the role and desire to meet for an interview. We recommend leaving at least one week before following up on your initial application, unless you received a specific timeframe from the employer about when you should expect to hear about next steps.
If a week, or this specified timeframe passes, your follow up could look like this:
Kia ora NAME,
I recently applied for the JOB TITLE position you currently have open. I’m really excited about this role, and would love to talk to you more about it. I was just wondering if it would be possible to come in and have a quick chat about what you’re looking for and learn more about the organisation.
Thanking the interviewer after the interview
So, this one is less about chasing an answer, and more courtesy. Within 24 hours of your interview, get back in touch and thank the hiring manager for their time. You can also use this opportunity to remind them of how keen you are on the role. For example:
Kia ora NAME.
Thank you again for our meeting yesterday, it was great to meet you and learn more about the role and the organisation as a whole. I’m really excited about the position, and would love to be a part of your team. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Asking for an update post interview
Generally, you’ll get an idea of when to expect to hear about next steps either in the interview itself, or as a follow up from the hiring manager. If the timeframe they gave has passed, a polite and succinct request for an update is perfectly fine, and could look like this:
Kia ora NAME,
I hope you’re well. I was just getting in touch about the interview we had on Monday for the POSITION TITLE. I was wondering if you had an approximate timeframe for possible next steps regarding my application?
When they STILL haven’t responded
Okay, this is probably starting to get frustrating now. But it’s crucial to stay polite and professional. As a last ditch, reply to your previous update request and again, ask for more information.
How you follow up will depend on what stage of the application process you're at, and what the employer has told you.
Do employers let you know if you didn't get the job?
Sadly, the answer is sometimes no. If you get through to second round interviews, you can expect employers to get back in touch and tell you if you were unsuccessful.
However, if you fell at an earlier hurdle, there’s a good chance that the best you can expect is an automated email.
This can be frustrating, and might seem rude, but remember to remain professional. You never know when the contact you made in this process might come in handy, so it’s always best to leave with your reputation intact.
Top tip: if you think you might apply for a job with the same organisation in the future, it can be really helpful to ask the hiring manager for feedback on why you weren’t successful this time. Not only does this allow you to tweak your application next time, it also gets your name in front of them one last time, and shows them you’re keen to improve.
How long is too long to wait for an employer to get back to you?
It probably won’t surprise you to hear that there’s no single answer to this question. Each organisation is different when it comes to its processes, people, and, ultimately, its efficiency.
As we’ve already mentioned, some employers, unfortunately, may never get back in touch with you if you haven’t been successful.
However, even if you think it’s got to the stage where you’re very much doubting an employer is going to come back to you, and you think it’s unlikely that you got the job, do not send an email venting your frustration. Yes, it is rude that they haven’t let you know one way or the other, but it’s best to keep this to yourself. What if the manager has been sick, or simply swamped by other work? They might be on the verge of inviting you to an interview, only to receive an email where you tell them what you think of their tardiness. It’s not cool when companies leave applicants hanging, but it’s best to rise above it and move on.
How long is too long to wait?
Why do employers take so long to get back to you?
Hiring a candidate for a role is one of the biggest gambles organisations take on a regular basis. It’s expensive, both in terms of resources and people hours from their existing staff. And, if they get it wrong, they not only have to go through the whole process again, but it can actually be hard to remove an unsuitable person from a job, once they’re in place.
This is one of the reasons employers can take their time to get back to you. But another is the sheer number of people who might have also applied for the role. We know this is probably something you don’t want to think about too much, and your focus should very much be on your own application, and not the other candidates, but if you’re interested in the job, it’s likely others will be too. If you think about all the stages involved in your application journey – from initial contact, through to (usually) two interviews and then negotiating pay and conditions with the successful applicant, it’s easy to understand how the time can quickly elapse.
And, sometimes, the unexpected happens. A huge business project drops on the hiring manager’s desk, or a key decision maker falls ill. Of course, you’d hope that someone from the organisation would get in touch to explain the hold up, but this doesn’t always happen.
It’s important to keep this knowledge in the back of your mind if you’re getting frustrated about not hearing, and particularly if you’re following up with the business about the progress of your application. The delays are likely something the organisation is acutely aware of, and trying to resolve, so being patient is still your best bet, as hard as this can be.
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