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Waiting, Waiting
This Is How Long It Takes to Hear Back From a Job
Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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You’ve found a listing for a job that seems like a glove fit. You’ve polished your resume, tailoring it to the position at hand, and written a killer cover letter. Finally, you hit send. Now what?

Waiting to hear back from an employer after submitting a job application can be stressful and frustrating. So, how long does it usually take for a job to call for an interview? And how long does the hiring process take in total?

The short answer is it depends. Job response times vary a good deal according to many different factors. Even within the same company, one job might take just a couple weeks to fill, while another could take months. 

Still, even having a rough outline of when you can expect to hear back from a recruiter or hiring manager at each stage of the hiring process can ease your anxiety. With that in mind, this guide will give you a rundown of estimated waiting times at every step—and what you can and should be doing in the meantime.

Why timelines vary

How long does it take to hear back after applying for a job on average?

According to research conducted by Glassdoor, the hiring process took an average of 23.8 days in 2017 in the United States. This duration varies considerably from country to country and even from city to city within the U.S. Clocking in a 33.2 days, Washington D.C. is the sixth-highest on the list, with Sao Paulo, Brazil, leading the pack at a whopping 40.2 days.

All companies and positions are different. Job response timelines can vary considerably according to a number of factors, including:

• The size of the company

• The needs of the company and the position

• The experience level needed for and skills required for the position

• The urgency to fill the role

• Location and the number of qualified workers within the location

• How many candidates are being considered for the role

• How many people are involved in the decision-making process

For example, a restaurant that urgently needs to fill a waitstaff position is likely to hire someone very quickly, even after just a few days, while a corporation looking for a software engineer could take well over a month to make a final decision. 

Location can also play a role. A marketing position in New York is likely to attract many more applicants than a similar role in a rural area, which can increase the timeline since the company will need to sift through more applications. Likewise, in Silicon Valley, startups will have a large pool of qualified candidates to fill a software developer role and may take more time identifying the best fit than a startup in a less tech-heavy region would. 

Timelines for the interview process

The timelines and the length of each stage in the hiring process depend on the factors described above and numerous others. Below are very rough estimates of what you might expect at each step.

Application1-3 weeks after submission to schedule a phone interview
Phone interview

under one week to schedule an in-person interview

First-round in-person interview1-2 weeks to schedule a second interview
Second-round in-person interview1-2 weeks to schedule a third interview or inform you of the organization’s decision


Don’t be discouraged or assume you’ll be rejected if any stage of the hiring process is taking longer than the estimates above. (Remember: these are extremely variable.) There could be numerous circumstances at play: someone involved in the hiring process is on vacation, the hiring manager is interviewing other candidates, the needs of the position have changed, or something else entirely. Perhaps filling the role simply isn’t the highest priority for the employer at the moment.

It’s fine to ask your interviewer when you should expect to hear about the next steps, but again, the response she will give you is probably just an estimate. Often, the process takes longer than expected.

You can feel free to follow up if some time has elapsed, usually 1-2 weeks, and you haven’t heard from the employer unless she has specifically told you not to do so. Try not to follow up more than twice, or you might annoy the hiring manager. Also, remember to send a thank-you note within 24 hours after each interview.

How long does it take to find a job on average?

This is another question that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer. Some people land the first job to which they apply (although that’s pretty rare), while others could spend many months and even years searching for the perfect fit. 

Factors influencing how long it will take for you include:

• State of the economy and unemployment

• State of the industry

• Number of jobs in the industry available within a specific location

• Candidate’s qualifications and experience

• Dedication and time spent on the job search

More Resources to Help You in Your Job Search

While you’re waiting to hear back about a job, don’t put your job search on hold. Keep looking for and applying to new roles. Not only will you avoid putting all your eggs into one basket, but you might even be able to leverage and negotiate offers if you receive good news from multiple employers. Follow these tips to ensure that you’re job hunting effectively and increasing the likelihood of receiving an offer:

• Familiarize yourself with the hiring process.

If you don’t know what to expect from the hiring process, whether you’re looking for an entry-level position or want something new after working at the same company for years, it’s easy to get frustrated quickly. Read our guide to the hiring process to find out what you can expect every step of the way.

• Use LinkedIn the right way.

If your LinkedIn profile is sitting there accumulating dust, it’s time to revisit it. Learn how to spruce up your profile and grow your professional network to market yourself effectively through this essential professional social networking tool.

• Be prudent about your job search.

Worried about your boss finding out that you’re looking for a new gig? From using your vacation days rather than sick days to schedule interviews to staying focused at your current job, here are 12 tips for keeping it private.

• Use the right job search sites.

Looking for a job in media? MediaBistro could have the perfect role. Tech professional? Check out Dice. Using job search websites tailored to your needs and industry can help you find a position that is more aligned with your skills and goals. Of course, there are also plenty of useful job search sites that don’t cater to specific positions or industries, too, such as Indeed and Glassdoor. Take a peek at our guide to The 26 Best Job Search Websites to Know for tips.

• Network, network, network.

Did we mention network? If you hate networking, you’re not alone. But an increasing number of people are finding jobs through connections and word of mouth. Check out 8 Networking Tips For People Who Hate Networking and 5 Ways to Get a Job Using Your Personal Network and Social Media for advice on how to do it well.

Get in front of recruiters with a Professional Profile on FGB.

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