The Recruitment Process Timeline: What to Expect

Waiting. It’s one of the worst words to any candidate, the concept of sitting there in anticipation of what’s going to happen. How long will it take to hear back from a resume submission? How much time should you give the process before following up with a recruiter or hiring manager? What happens after the interview? The concept of waiting with all of those things unknown can be maddening to anyone for whom the outcome —gainful employment — can mean everything.

With that in mind, here are a few simple guidelines to follow when it come to the timing of the recruitment process. Please bear in mind that every company is different, so the amount of effort and time for each could be entirely different. But let this serve as a general rule of thumb for your recruitment process and how to make the most of the time you’re investing in finding a new role:

Resume Submission

What’s happened: You’ve found a great role, and you’ve submitted your credentials and cover letter in hopes of being considered.

Timing: 2 weeks

Behind the Scenes: Most of the time, there will be hundreds of applicants applying via job boards and various recruiting sources. Even if you’ve managed to send your resume directly to the recruiter or hiring manager, it takes a while to sort through those submissions. Many job boards have keyword searches that help bubble those resumes which closely match the criteria needed, so before submitting make sure to capture the key words in the job post in your resume for a higher chance of being selected.

What to Do: Continue to look for other positions. If you have the recruiter’s email, follow up no more than once more about seven days after submission.

Interview Selection

What’s happened: Congratulations! You’ve been selected for an interview! Whether by phone or in person, this is a step in the right direction. You’re on your way.

Timing: 1 week – 1 month

Behind the Scenes: Recruiters have a lot of coordination to do when setting up interviews. Even if it’s a phone interview with them, there are a lot of moving calendar items that have to be managed. If it’s an actual interview with the staff internally, all those calendars have to be secured, and that can be tricky with high-level executives and busy staff.

What to Do: Continue to seek other positions, but also get prepared to put your best face forward. Do your homework on the company, recent news, your own resume and job experiences, and familiarize yourself with the job description and how your experience makes you a top candidate for the role.

Post-interview feedback gathering

What’s Happened: You’ve interviewed for the position, and you’re waiting to hear back in regards to next steps.

Timing: 1-3 weeks

Behind the Scenes: Interview feedback gathering can also be a slow process when working with lots of interviewers, and there may be a request for you to interview a few more times with other members of the team. Although the passion to fill the position is there, the due diligence that it takes to make the right selection sometimes takes longer than most companies would like.

What to Do: Send thank you emails or letters to the recruiter and everyone you meet within 24 hours of every interview, expressing interest (if you are indeed interested.) You should only follow up with the recruiter weekly if you’ve not heard anything. If three weeks passes, and you’ve not heard anything, it’s safe to assume that there’s a longer delay with the hiring process, or you may not be selected. Continue your search while you wait.


What’s Happened: You’ve been told you’re not a fit for the position.

Timing: 1-3 weeks

Behind the scenes: The interviewer(s) have determined that you’re not a fit for the role.

What to Do: Be gracious and take the news with positivity. If you’re interested in working for this employer, emphasize your desire to be considered for other roles. If you’re disinterested, be kind and thank them for their time, and continue your job search.


What’s Happened: Congratulations! You’ve been extended an offer!

Timing: 1-3 weeks

Behind the Scenes: Even after you’ve been made the offer, there will be a lot of moving parts. If you counter the offer, approvals have to be gained to amend the original offer. If and when you accept, all your paperwork has to be generated, your start date has to be secured, and any number of operational details will need to be managed.

What to Do: Cease your job search once the offer has been accepted, and prepare to start your first day with your new employer. Be sure to sign and return all paperwork properly and complete onboarding assignments in an expedient manner.

Whether you’re just starting your job search, or you’ve been at this for a while, rest assured that while the hiring process does take time, it’s well worth it in the end. With a little patience and perseverance, you’ll be in your next role in no time at all. Best of luck!

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