When Should Candidates Hear Back from Employers: Expectations vs. Reality

By The Intersect Group

Did you see our LinkedIn survey posted a few weeks ago? We asked people how long it should be between the day they submit an application for an open position and when they hear back from the employer.

Most people (46 percent) of the 886 responses said one week. The second greatest percentage of responses (37 percent) said three days. Ten percent said one day while 6 percent said two weeks.

Were our respondents optimists?

After all, there’s a massive labor shortage in practically every business sector right now. Candidates know it and therefore may think that a company’s reaction time between their application submission and the company’s response to it will be short.

This could especially be the case for IT professionals

Even though tech executives said it’s been easier this year than last to source IT pros, it’s still far from easy. Or, as one exec said in the article above, “demand is expanding so rapidly they just don’t have enough people to meet” it.

It could be a longer response time for finance/accounting candidates

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Services has reported that September’s job growth in finance and insurance grew by just 0.5 percent year-over-year (although accounting and bookkeeping services grew by 7.2 percent year-over-year).

So what’s the actual reality? Are employers taking “a long time” before they respond to a candidate’s job application?


One thing to remember is that employers tend to see the hiring process differently than candidates: employers see it as a funnel with several stages (about 8), while candidates see it as a series of about four steps: job posting, application, interviews and either job offer or rejection.

In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review article linked to above, candidates see the process overall as extremely negative and rigged against them.

In short, the candidate’s “hogwash” meter is high. Providing a ton of respect to applicants from start to finish is imperative.

Keep your candidates informed as to “what’s next.” Err on the side of giving them “too much” rather than too little information. Nurture them through the process. Never, ever ghost.

According to Flexjobs, there might be several reasons for the lack of responsiveness, but the most likely culprit is there simply is not enough time to respond to all applicants. By no means is this an acceptable reason, especially with the use of this little concept called automation.

Many companies have the ability to send automatic candidate journey text messages and emails. Consider using some of these to ease the frustration candidates have around employer response times:

  • Thank you for submitting your resume, etc.
  • Sending out an email to candidates not selected for interviews.
  • First interview
    • Congrats! You’re on to the next step. Click here to confirm a date/time for your 2nd and final interview – use Calendly.
    • Sending interviewees info regarding what they can expect during the interview process (timeline next steps, etc.)
  • Second interview scheduling, or sending emails to those who didn’t make the cut.
  • Asking top candidates to submit references/background verification.

Never forget the importance of the human touch

While technology can help make the recruitment process easier for recruiters, remember that your new hires likely are hungry for IRL connections with their soon-to-be employer. Phone calls or even texts are a nice touch. An offer to come to your location – even if the position will be fully remote – also is a great way to start the employer/employee bonding process.

Whether you’re a candidate or an employer, what do you think can be done to improve application response times?

Let us know!