A reader writes:
I went on my first interview at a state university three weeks ago, second interview was two weeks ago. I never head back so last week I called and was told that they would be checking my references this week. I know that my current boss was contacted today and I'm just really tired of waiting! I've read that you should stay in touch, making contact at least once a week and am wondering if you can give me any insight into the decision making process. What is taking so long? And what is a reasonable amount of time to expect to wait for an offer? I have another interview with a different company scheduled for tomorrow and would really prefer the job I've already interviewed for but don't want to put all my eggs in one basket?!?! I plan to send an email this week to let them know I'm still interested and is it acceptable to ask where they are in the decision process?
This is the part where you relax and enjoy. Easier said than done, I know, but the fact that they've called your boss for a reference is an excellent sign. Practices vary, but I for one don't bother checking references until I've chosen a candidate -- or, occasionally, when I'm having trouble deciding between two candidates. An offer is likely forthcoming.
To answer your question about what's taking so long, if your interview was two weeks ago, that actually isn't that long. They likely had other interviews to finish after yours, so let's say that ate up a week or even more. Then we can assume they spent some time discussing and considering candidates. Then, depending on the company, there may be an array of paperwork to fill out before things can move forward. Plus it's summer, so there's a higher chance someone's vacation schedule is getting in the way. Personally, I like to move fast when I find the candidate I want, but I have the luxury of working somewhere with very little paperwork; plenty of companies take a lot longer. So I'm not alarmed to hear it's been two weeks. You should just sit tight.
However, regarding your question about how long you should wait: It's perfectly acceptable to contact them and ask for an idea about their timeline. Reiterate your interest your interest at the same time. Meanwhile, continue interviewing -- and if you reach a point where you suspect you're going to get an offer from another company, it's completely fine to tell the first company that you're expecting another offer but they're your first choice and ask if there's any way they can work with you on the timeline.