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How Long Will Candidates Wait for a Job Offer?

How Long Will Candidates Wait for a Job Offer?

This post was updated in February 2020.

So, you have a couple of great candidates waiting in the line-up for your new position. You interviewed with them a week ago and are still evaluating with your co-workers and the other hiring managers before making a job offer. On top of that, you have a ton of work piling up you have to take care of during this hiring process

Unfortunately, you’ve let the candidates wait on the back burner while you figure everything out. Three weeks after your interviews with the candidates you finally come to a decision and extend a job offer. 

The problem is, the person has moved on and is no longer interested. Or perhaps they have already been offered another position elsewhere. All of that time spent was wasted, and you are left with no one to fill your open role. You can go with your second choice, but they were second for a reason.

This is a situation you want to avoid as the hiring manager trying to fill an open position. Waiting too long to present a job offer can turn candidates off. How long will candidates wait before you offer them a position?

Candidates want a clear timeline

First and foremost, candidates want to be treated as equals during the hiring process. A whopping 82% in a 2018 CareerBuilder survey expect employers to provide a clear timeline for the hiring process. They also want to remain updated as the process moves forward.  

Without a clear timeline — or disregarding one you’ve set in place — candidates aren’t just discounting your hiring process. In fact, the same CareerBuilder respondents (68%) believe their experience as a candidate reflects how the company treats its people.

So, when you tell candidates they should expect job offers by the end of the week and never follow up with them, you’re damaging the company’s overall reputation and relationship with the candidate. Ultimately, they don’t reach the job offer stage, and your company drops in status as a quality employer.

For you to extend a deadline like that, the person must have seemed right for the job. Therefore, making them wait longer than promised is unnecessary and viewed as disrespectful — and they may end up accepting a job offer from a competitor. 

Candidates want an expedited process

The continuously low unemployment rate puts candidates in power positions over their career moves. Most know their worth, which lowers their patience when waiting around to get a job offer. After applying, more than half of employees (55%) will give up and move on if they haven’t heard from an employer within two weeks of applying, according to the CareerBuilder survey. 

The good news is, many hiring pros are getting the hint. In our 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States report, 49% of hiring pros revealed their average time-to-hire is 7 to 14 days from receipt of an application to offer letter. 

Even more surprising, 55% of candidates waited less than one week between their last interview and receiving an offer, according to Talent Board’s 2019 Candidate Experience Report

However, reaching these quick turnaround numbers isn’t an easy task. As a hiring manager, you know many factors are weighing into the decision-making process. First and foremost, if this position is part of a greater team, then you are going to want to get the input from other team members and managers. 

It can be challenging to find a moment when everyone on the team can meet, but it is critical you do it in a timely manner. If there is someone you think would be perfect for the position, it’s especially likely another company will move in to sweep them up.

Furthermore, savvy job seekers know they should not consider a job offer a done deal until they receive terms, details, and their start dates. It would be foolish for a job seeker to wait for an employment offer from one company. 

Instead, they could be continuing their job search, networking with recruitment professionals, and increasing their chances of receiving an extended offer. Implementing video interviews into your hiring process is one way you can save time by making it easier to collaborate on a new hire.

Candidates deserve a fast, unanimous decision

The hiring process holds many challenges, including the internal back-and-forth required to make a final decision. Candidates, and your team, deserve a quick selection process. 

Unfortunately, as stated earlier, it’s often difficult to bring everyone together in a formal setting to discuss candidates. With video interviews, you can share a recorded job interview with other members of your team and managers. They can then review it when they have an opening in their schedule, and see for themselves if this job seeker is qualified to fill the position. 

Or they can prepare questions to better narrow down the prospects. Once you bring the potential employee in for an in-person interview, other team members will be more likely to already be on the same page, ready to listen to accept the best-fitting candidate. 

No matter how you address the hiring process, don’t let top candidates wait on the back burner too long before sending an offer of employment. If you know you want to make a job offer, then evaluate quickly and send them the next step in the process. Or else, their waiting may be the ultimate downfall of your hiring process.


job offer

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter

15 comments

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  • If only the employers knew how much a job offer might mean to some of these candidates. For some that are out of work it could be a matter of feeding their families. I think that a good potential employer will give an interviewee some clear signs that they will receive an offer, and give a clear timeline. They may even respond directly to your thank you note after the interview. I agree that job seekers should continue seeking while waiting no matter what. Wait two weeks and follow up again. If your gut feeling is good you will probably get the job, on the contrary, if it is a bad gut feeling then keep plugging away and looking!

    • Very sound advice! And certainly in this economy, we can only hope employers are quicker with their job decision turnaround. As you mentioned, playing the waiting game can hurt job seekers in especially difficult situations.

    • I think you may have misunderstood the reasons potential employers interview candidates. It’s not to make candidates feel warm inside or to be a nice person. It’s just about finding the right person to do a job. Part of that involves treating all candidates with respect (because it helps you retain or improve your employer brand). But really, you need to get your professional job seeker head on if you’re actually deluded enough to think your wellbeing is even in the top five of any potential employer’s goals. If it were, they’d just go and hire at the local homeless shelter: the people there are no doubt in more need than you and your family, and would value employment just as much as you.

  • If they tell the job seeker it will be two weeks then the job seeker should wait at least until those two weeks are up. Then follow through with a friendly email. The employer will not base their decision on the job seeker’s follow up. All the follow up can potentially do is make the seeker feel better, for a short while.

  • I do not interview an employee until the position is clearly defined, budgeted, and approved. Once the best candidates’ resumes are selected and interviewed, a decision is made quickly. In my opinion, having a candidate wait long periods of time for an offer or communication someone has been selected indicates lack of preparation, inability to make a decision, or a poor hiring process. It demonstrates lack of respect for the candidate and places a negative light on the company.

  • Hello. I am stuck in a position that I need some advice in. I was told by a company that I was going to be hired and brought on board, after the interview and all. They told me that they’ll extend a job offer to me in 2 days, but they never did. so I called after 4 days and asked what happened, they said that it’s taking longer than expected to get approved by the senior hiring manager. It has been a total of two weeks and they don’t bother to keep in contact with me with updates. The HR rep tells me that she will keep in contact with updates but she never does. Some background information on this issue is that they were going to hire me for this position about 6 months ago, but were unable to do so because they could not approve the budget for the position. I called them back one month ago about the same position, and they said they are going to have a meeting about the approval and that I should get back to them in a week. I did get back to them and they said that they did approve the job and the budget for it, and that I am the one they want to hire, and that they will extend a job offer to me in 2 days. The job offer approval is being done by the senior HR manager, and the whole time I was talking with the HR employee that interviewed me. I have been contacting them every few days after they gave me a timetable for something. So, it’s been two weeks now since they told me that they’re approving a job offer to extend to me, my question, what is taking so long? Are they not being able to approve the budget when they said they did?

    (Sorry about the other post, I mistakenly pressed some buttons and prematurely submitted it)

    • Hi Alex, first off thanks for commenting and sharing your
      story with us.

      It seems this is an issue on their end with the process
      involving various levels of people within the company which is likely preventing the HR rep from keeping with the suggested timeline.

      We suggest you stay in contact if this is really the company/position you’re interested in. However, keep looking at other opportunities. Don’t put your eggs all in one basket with this opportunity since there are clearly broken lines of communication. A job offer is never an offer until it is in writing. We can’t say for sure what’s going on inside this company of course, but no job seeker should stop their search or pin their hopes on a single position until they have an offer in writing from the company.

      • Thank you for your response. I already have a job now, but I don’t like it for many reasons. This new job that I’m really hoping to get is in my field, and a great opportunity.

        I will call them again this upcoming Monday. Could you please suggest what I should ask them? The end of this week will be a full three weeks in which they said they’re approving the job offer.

        • Alex, I’d stick with asking if there is anything further you can do/provide, as well as when to expect to hear a final decision. Unfortunately, they keep giving you dates of course that aren’t accurate.

          One of our consultants has a rule to follow up every 7-10 days up to three times after an interview, and then to move on. If they want you, they’ll come find you at that point. That may be a harder reality to accept since you seem to really want this position.

          Best of luck!

  • Hello – so I am working as a Contract to hire – I was originally brought on to help with a ERP system change. From that the opportunity to bring me on full time in a Sales/Account Management role was discussed. It has not been 13 weeks since COO approval to hire and I still have not been given an offer…the delays in department and HR keep stacking up with excuse after excuse…

    Any suggestions on how to address this? One thought was to negotiate a signing bonus to make up for money that has been left on the table…

  • I interviewed with a company as a Director of IT on 11/24. I was then interviewed by their VP on 11/25. This was VERY FAST for the company. On 12/4 I was told I was their top candidate, but they still needed to talk with 2 more people forced on them by HR. On 12/17 I was told once more that I was their top candidate and they had 1 more interview to do that day. Here I am on 12/21 still waiting to get more info. I’m about ready to tell them to take their job and shove it.

  • So, I know this is an older post, but I’m going through a frustrating situation right now. I had a phone interview with a law firm’s HR on February 9. She told me they were just starting to search so it was going to be a while. However, she wanted to get me in the next week to meet the hiring manager as she thought I sounded really good for this position. I went in and met for another 30 minutes with the HR person and then 30 minutes with the hiring manager. I followed up with two thank you notes. Two weeks later I still hadn’t heard anything so i sent in an e-mail to the HR person asking the status of the position. She got back to me the next day and assured me I was very much still a candidate and they wanted me to come back to interview with the team. I went back the following week and had 3 interviews. I felt they went well; I did my best. I followed up with a thank you e-mail to each of them. That was on a Tuesday morning. They said they had one more interview with another candidate that Friday. That meant another long weekend waiting….again. I figured by Monday or Tuesday, they would make a decision. I received a call this afternoon that the interview got cancelled on Friday and now it isn’t rescheduled until next week! At this point, I’m angry, feeling very disappointed that I’m obviously not the top candidate and they are just keeping me on the ropes in case the other one doesn’t work out. Or, maybe they are interviewing even more people. I understand that they should follow through with all the candidates, but really….and how much is my interview going to be on their minds a month later? Right now, I hope I find something else so I can tell them to go jump in the lake. Horrible to do this to people looking for a job.

  • Think of your top candidates as being like franchise caliber free agents in sports. How long would a hot free agent sit around and wait for a team to get back to them with an offer? Probably not very long, take too long and they’ll move on to the next team that’s interested in them. Unless a person really wants to work for your company and/or doesn’t really “need” the job but wants the job they aren’t going to sit around and wait for you to take forever getting back to them.

    It’s not like a lot of these companies are the most patient in the world themselves, some of them “move onto the next one” if you don’t jump and respond quickly enough for their tastes.