Sometimes the recruiting process might feel excruciatingly long, and a lot of companies do not notify applicants that they have been rejected, and even those who do rarely say why.

To avoid stressing about a job application you have sent it is important to understand how the hiring process works from a company’s point of view. Hiring is a costly investment for a company, and they want to make sure they’re making the right decision so as to see plenty of return on that investment. If you know how the company is thinking, then you will approach the hiring process with the right mindset.

1st step: screening

The first step in the hiring process is to screen incoming job applications. It is important to remember that some firms only start the screening process after the send-in deadline, but most do it as soon as job applications start coming in, especially if they use an automated system. So do not wait until the last day to send out your application, someone else may already have positioned themselves as a top choice!

How this is done, the time it takes, and the number of applicants selected to go on to the next step varies. Some companies use automatic computer programs that scan your resume and cover letter looking for specific keywords, while others use HR personnel for this task. Screeners usually spend less than 20 seconds looking at a resume and cover letter in this first phase, so it is important to have a strong opening statement and clearly show with bullet points what makes you the best fit for a position.

Some companies could also ask you to take an assessment test online, and use a base score that candidates must reach to be considered for the position.

This process alone could take weeks, so do not stress if you haven’t heard anything back after just a couple of days.

2nd step: phone interviews

After the first screening process the HR staff will narrow down the applicants that will be invited for a first stage interview. This second screening is a more thorough version than the first one, and usually no more than 20 candidates are passed on.

Phone interviews may be used to get deeper information about a candidate's background to help determine if the person is a strong fit. Candidates also may be evaluated on their communication skills.

Not every company does phone interviews, some call you in for an in-person interview without ever having spoken to you.
After this process, the human resources personnel and the hiring manager will go through the list of candidates to decide who will be invited to the in-person interviews.

3rd step: personal interviews

If you have already completed a phone interview or a first stage in-person interview and are invited to a second one, then you are among the final candidates for the position.
This interview differs widely across different companies and business sectors. Some firms mainly care about how you will fit in the company and try to get an understanding of the type of person you are. Others, especially consulting firms, will test your knowledge and skills once again during a 2+ hours interview with different managers.

When you are invited to this interview stage go through what you felt could have gone better during your previous interview and try to address any concerns that the company might have. You are already one of their top choices, but your competition is as well.

Assessment centers are also a popular method for companies to gauge potential employees, as they have shown to have a strong correlation to future job performance. You are unlikely to be a part of this assessment if you are applying for an internship but it is useful to know that the possibility exists.

4th step: Job offers and rejection

At most firms, once interviews are done, hiring managers will convene with colleagues who met the finalists to get their opinions on who should get an offer. The final call is usually the hiring manager’s, and all other things equal the choice will come down to fit and level of enthusiasm.

After a decision has been made, the company immediately contacts the top choice to make a job offer, and if it is accepted the paperwork will get started.

Only after the final candidate has officially been hired the other finalists will be notified that they were not chosen.

This is not always the case, but more often than not the final choice will be made in the immediate days following the final interviews, so when companies tell you that they will let you know in a couple of weeks and you haven’t heard anything back in less than 10 weeks, then you should be realistic and assume that you were not chosen.

The whole job application process is very long both from the company’s and the candidates’ perspective. You could send out an application and two months later receive an e-mail notifying you that you were not chosen for a job, or you could stress out about not hearing back from an interview.
These delays may sometimes be caused by unpredictable factors such as people critical to the hiring process being sick or receiving another project that has top priority.

As a rule of thumb, if you have sent in an application and haven’t heard anything back three weeks after the deadline, or if you after an interview are still waiting after two weeks, then the company has probably chosen someone else.