Waiting to hear back about a job after an interview can be nerve-wracking. When you really want a job, it is nice to hear feedback right away. If you have multiple interviews, a quick response is helpful in exploring your options. Unfortunately, the time frame in which you learn your fate depends on the organization and situation.
In some cases, you know immediately after your interview where you stand. Retail managers, for instance, often let you know right after an interview if you fit well with the company or not. Small businesses also commonly offer instant feedback because they have fewer human resource hurdles to jump through. Even if a hiring manager can't tell you officially that you have the job, he may offer that it looks good or that he will call in the next day or so.
A common hold-up in post-interview feedback is background checks. Many employers automatically conduct background checks on all potential hires. It can often take two to three weeks for this process to play out because organizations usually hire a third-party company to facilitate the background check. The length of a background check may vary based on the type of position. Some employers look just for major offenses, while some need to look more thoroughly for any type of offense.
Informal Versus Formal Notice
You may know your job status sooner than later even if you don't formally get an offer right away. Some companies maintain a practice of letting you know within a couple days that you have been recommended or referred for a position. This approach is common when a hiring committee is used. You could even get a job offer or contract "pending background check."
In the worst case, you don't hear about your status until a few weeks after the interview. Good etiquette dictates that a hiring manager should let you know if the process will take awhile, but this isn't a given. The problem is that a delay in hearing about the job may cause you to juggle different interviews or opportunities. It is appropriate to call after a couple of weeks and check on your status if you haven't heard anything. The call allows you to find out if you are still in the mix or if the company simply didn't call to let you know you didn't get the position.