You find the perfect job and apply for it. Check! You get a call back for an interview and book it. Check! You have a great interview and you feel like you have a good chance of getting the job. Check! Then you wait and wait a little longer.

You don’t hear back from the employer. You’re wondering why the hiring decision is taking so long. You thought for sure you made a good connection and would hear back sooner than later. Now it’s later and you are starting to second-guess things. Should you move on? Should you wait it out?

We live in a society of instant gratification and short attention spans. We don’t like to wait for anything and want feedback right away. Unfortunately, the job search process can be long and drawn out – up to six weeks or longer in some cases. So, some patience is needed by candidates. 

As a recruiter with over 15 years of experience helping companies navigate the hiring process, I can tell you the reality is that hiring decisions take longer than anticipated. 

Employers want to make sure they get the decision right. They don’t want to have to re-hire for the same position one year from now. Unforeseen things also pop up. In other words, stuff happens. 

So, to provide you with some context, I’ve created the following list of reasons why the hiring process takes so long. 

What Should Job Candidates Know About The Hiring Process?

Here’s the key information you need to know about the timing of the hiring process:

  • The hiring process typically lasts three to six weeks, sometimes longer
  • Expect the hiring process to be longer for higher-level positions (manager, leadership)
  • Managers and recruiters haven’t forgotten about you – give them about a week before contacting them for an update (unless you were provided with a specific timeline). 
  • The top factors affecting the length of the hiring process are job level, number of applicants, time of year, and industry. 

Why Does The Hiring Process Take So Long?

Even with a well-designed hiring process, it can take weeks for candidates to receive a job offer. Many things can delay or extend the time it takes for employers to hire. The number of applicants, hiring criteria, number of interviews, HR processes, and unforeseen circumstances and delays can all play a role. 

Here are 10 reasons why the hiring process takes so long to complete: 

1. You Were One of the First Interviewed

If you are one of the first candidates to be interviewed for a job, it could take a couple of weeks for the hiring company to complete the interview process. Some companies have a large candidate pool and choose to speak with a series of people. The interview process takes time.

2. High Volume of Applicants

If a great opportunity becomes available, you can expect a large number of candidates to apply for the position. The more people that apply the more applications hiring managers need to sift through. Expect a longer hiring process when applying for great jobs and top organizations. 

3. A Key Decision Maker is Absent

Hiring decisions often get delayed because someone who is a key decision-maker is absent. They may be ill, they could be on vacation, travelling for work, or they may need to deal with a more pressing issue. We tend to see a lot of delays during the holidays + new years, Spring Break, and the end of August due to vacations. The process may come to a halt until this person can resume their hiring duties. 

4. Complex Hiring Criteria

Some organizations have extensive hiring criteria they use to assess candidates. They may run your resume through applicant tracking software, have a series of people review resumes, and have a long checklist they compare candidates against. 

5. Lengthy Interview Process

If the hiring company has identified several great candidates, they may want to do a second round of interviews. This second interview could be with people higher up in the organization. It can take some time to get things organized. They want to get things scheduled on their end before contacting you.

Multi-step interview processes are common. Employers want to be sure they are hiring the right person. So, you could expect multiple interview steps – phone interview, first in-person interview, panel interview, assignments and presentations. It takes time to have candidates work through these steps.  

6. Decision-making Delays

Stuff happens. There are countless reasons hiring decisions could get delayed. Key decision-makers could be on vacation, sick or away from the office for other reasons. Internal priorities could also shift. 

7. Reference Checks and Documentation

If your company sees you as a front-runner, they may be in the process of doing reference checks. It can take time to track down references. They could also be getting an offer ready. Sometimes this requires sign-offs by multiple individuals.

8. Internal Bureaucracy

Hiring managers have to follow the recruitment rules and regulations as set out by the human resources department. Certain steps and processes need to be followed. There is paperwork to complete and approval to get to move forward. 

9. Candidate Availability

Delays in the hiring process can also come down to candidate scheduling. Interviewing multiple candidates and booking times for interviews can extend the process. It can be challenging to coordinate everyone’s schedule. 

10. Something Changed Internally

Changes to the job role, position requirements, or even internal budgets can all cause the hiring process to be put on pause temporarily. Just because you don’t hear back right away doesn’t mean you are out of contention for the job. Sometimes, the decision-making process just takes longer than anticipated.

A Final Word About The Length Of The Hiring Process

Hiring is an opportunity for employers to improve. They want to hire the best of the best. Even with the most efficient hiring processes, it takes time to make hiring decisions. There are a lot of moving parts and factors that could extend the time it takes for a company to hire. So, candidates need to have some patience and trust in the process. 


Get More Job Search Advice From Our Expert Recruiters

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Rhys Metler Sales Recruiter

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a VP, Client Services of IQ PARTNERS‘ Sales practice and leads the SalesForce Search recruitment team. He specializes in prospecting new business relationships, client retention and renewals, and building top performing Sales teams in even the most challenging environments.

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