Further Questions: When contacting applicants for interviews, how long will you wait for a reply before moving on in the process?

This week we asked people who hire librarians

When contacting applicants for interviews, how long will you wait for a reply before moving on in the process? When do you expect a reply, and does it differ by position? Do you have issues with applicants not replying in a timely fashion? Of course, this is very circumstance-dependent, but if an applicant does not reply within a week, or two, and you have moved on, is there anything they can do to salvage the relationship for this position or a potential open position in the future?

Jason GrubbIf an applicant hasn’t replied after a couple of days, we will try contacting them again. We will usually only call or email. If we haven’t heard from the applicant by the time interviews begin then we will not consider them for the position. At this point there is little they can do to be reconsidered. Thankfully, in all my years of hiring, I’ve only not been able to contact an applicant once. Most applicants are very good about responding. Not only is a quick response professional, it demonstrates a genuine interest in the position. The take away for job seekers: if you are on the job hunt sync your email to your phone, set alerts, have the volume on your phone turned up, if messages are left respond promptly.

– Jason Grubb, Director, Sweetwater County Library System

Celia RabinowitzThis is a really interesting question.  In over 15 years of managing searches, I don’t think I have never actually had a situation where a candidate did not reply to a communication about a phone or in-person interview.  These days it is so easy to set up voice mail and email with messages indicating if a person is not accessible (and when they will be), that I might consider waiting if I had that information and the candidate was really strong and we wanted to talk/see them.  But that might also depend on how long it would be before they were available.

If there was no information about the candidate’s availability I would not wait more than one week at the very most (and possibly less).  Without a reply I would assume the person was no longer interested for some reason (and it is really OK for you to communicate that to us – we’d prefer it).  Reestablishing the relationship later would depend primarily on where we where in the search process.  Adding someone to a phone interview list isn’t usually very difficult. But communication at that point would require some explanation on the part of the candidate about why they did not respond initially.  And the search committee would need to decide whether it was worth the risk of continuing to include that candidate.

So my best advice is to keep communication open.  If you need a day to think once you receive an email about an offer of an interview, take it.  If you want more time, ask if that is possible.  If you have changed your mind, tell the search chair.  If you are submitting applications and sometimes inaccessible, be sure you have accurate messages with information about your availability and try to check when you can.

– Celia Rabinowitz,  Dean of Mason Library at Keene State College in Keene, NH

Thank you as always to our contributors for their time and insight.  If you’re someone who hires librarians and are interested in participating in this feature, please email us at hiringlibrariansquestionsATgmail.com.

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Filed under Further Questions

3 responses to “Further Questions: When contacting applicants for interviews, how long will you wait for a reply before moving on in the process?

  1. AK

    And candidates, always formally withdraw your candidacy from any pending searches when you accept another job — it may make all the difference for the person interviewed in your place!


  2. Pingback: Further Questions Questions | Hiring Librarians

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