When do recruiters call back? What is taking them so long?

I recently received the following email from a reader and asked them if I could post their question as this is a popular frustration with HR and would probably help.  When do recruiters call back?  With their permission, I am reposting a condensed version below.


For about a month now, I've been down to the finish line at conglomerate, Company X. 

THEY called ME. I wasn't actively looking,

Bottom line: they made me want it, and now these final hours are about to drive me insane.

Week 1: I sailed through 2 interviews. Supplied well-rounded portfolio.

Week 2: I took a nasty intelligence test and personality test. Passed. Had yet another phone interview with matrixed manager who might occasionally work with me.

Week 3: They asked for 3 manager references, which I readily supplied, and which they have checked. I duly warned all references, and from what I've heard from my refs, they did an excellent job. Wrapped up yesterday. Which takes us into Week 4.

(Weirdly enough, it was the hiring VP doing the calling, not the recruiter. Well, okay, I guess he's taking ownership because he will live with the outcome. Makes sense.)

I did all the requisite follow-up with the thank you's, etc. and last Friday I mailed and said "Let me know if you need anything more. Thank you again." Gut feeling tells me to sit on my hands. Any more mailing, calling, whatever is going to start to diminish my elusive je ne sais quoi. You know. Like the girl who calls the guy two times for his one. Too eager, perhaps desperate.  When do recruiters call back?

Still, I'm sitting by the phone/checking my email every 10 minutes. With it so close in hand, I'm starting to go a little bonkers. Every sign and signal says I've got it. SO WHEN WILL THEY TELL ME THE OUTCOME??? WHAT IS GOING ON?


Animated Suspension


Animated Suspension,

First, CONGRATS!!!!!  You made it through the interview loop gauntlet.  In all seriousness, any company as large as what this sounds like is probably interviewing a lot of folks initially and it sounds like they narrowed it down to just you and maybe one other.  I wouldn't worry about it too much (easier said than done) so have confidence that you did everything you did and did everything correctly.  Now the trick is to hang back and wait.  You sent your thank you's, you prepped your references.  In all seriousness, now is when you need to sit on your hands and not screw the pooch or all your hard work and patience.  You would be surprised how often candidates blow it this close to the finish line.

Believe it or not, I have seen candidates after 7 interviews say something in the parking lot like "when are these dumb asses going to make up there minds, I have interviewed 7 times already" and the wrong person over heard it.  Game over.  So close, and yet so far .  Don't call us, we'll call you.  . . .  The key is to remain professional.  This isn't the TV series Survivor "One World", this is Survivor "Corporate America".  It isn't always the person that is the most skilled that gets the job.  Sometimes it is the person that doesn't screw up and outlasts the other candidates that wins the game.  Patience AS. 

Here is what may be going on.  Recruiters call back when they have something to report back with.  We have other projects and deadlines.  We call back when they have time.  Believe it or not, we do want to call you, and we do want to offer you the job.  If you find another job, we have to start ALL over on our end.  If we have worked your position 99% of the way to the finish line with one or two final candidates, then the pressure is off.  Recruiters are filling 8 other positions and have 5 other managers breathing down their necks.  It is not uncommon for an internal recruiter to have 20 open positions.  We also have to solve employee issues, and run reports every month, attend meetings, meet agency recruiters, etc.  These meetings and projects are deadline driven.  From the company perspective, there usually isn’t a deadline when it comes to giving an offer.  If a recruiter is down to 1 or 2 candidates they are comfortable making an offer to, there is no rush on their end.

Most recruiters are at the mercy of the hiring manager who will also have meetings, deadlines, and projects.  Hiring managers are in turn at the mercy of their VP or department head.  Not only do you want to catch them, you want to catch them in a good and generous mood.  All of the stars and the moons need to line up for the miracle of a meeting to take place.  It isn’t you, it is the process and in a larger company, there there is a lot of process.  Perfectly normal, nothing to worry about.  Show is over here, keep moving along. 

Hang in there.  My advice:  Go see a couple of movies where you don’t have to talk with anyone and you don’t have to think.  See a movie that will provide an escape, I hear the Avengers is good.


A few days later, I received this from Animated Suspension,  (check the “you were soooo right” comment.  Mom would be proud and dad would say “even a blind squirrel finds a nut”)



  • Like you said, all I have to do now is sit back and not screw things up.

Remember, no news is NOT a "no".  If you haven't heard from your recruiter after a couple of interviews, don't think the worst and remember, they haven't declined you.  Yes, Animated Suspension did accept the job and is happily working at Corporation X. 

Good Luck,



nasty:  an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone that is good at something.  “He has a nasty forkball".

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