Careers advice

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.

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. Once you apply

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 time frames.

2. First round interviews

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. Waiting to hear back after 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 time frame 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 to follow up on a job application

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, and before follow up, check the listing again and any past communication from the company. If they’ve given you a time frame that hasn’t passed, or has only just arrived, hold fire.

If the time frame 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 types of follow up, depending where you are in the process:

  • Before an interview: 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.
  • Thanking the interviewer: within 24 hours of your interview, get back in touch and thank them for their time. You can also use this opportunity to remind them of how keen you are on the role.
  • Asking for an update post interview: if the time frame they gave has passed, a polite and succinct request for an update is perfectly fine.
  • When they STILL haven’t responded: as a last ditch, reply to your previous update request and again, politely, ask for more information.

Do employers let you know if you didn't get the job?

Sadly, the answer is sometimes no. If you got 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 future, it can be really helpful to ask the hiring manager for feedback on why you weren’t successful. 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.