Job interviews are probably the most integral part of the application process. Many an impressive CV has been undermined by poor interview performance. Conversely, you may not be the best candidate on paper, but a great interview can put you in the frame for the job.
Sometimes it’s difficult to tell how an interview went at all. You try to imagine how you presented, analyzing any clues the interviewer might have given away. It’s not always easy, especially if your interviewer is quite hard to read. Fortunately, there are some surefire indications an interview went positively and some equally obvious omens that it didn’t.
So, to help you on your job search, we’re going to take a look at the main indicators that an interview went well or badly.
- The Reasons
- Interview Length
- Positive Body Language
- Conversational Flow
- Staff Introductions
- Company Information
- Extra Job Details
- Were Your Questions Answered?
- We’re You Asked if You’re Considering Other Positions?
- Workplace Tour
- Hiring Logistics are Discussed
- Positive Feedback
- Discussion of Next Steps
- Follow-up Email Response
- Additional Interview Info And Advice
- Final Thoughts
The length of the interview will depend on what stage of the hiring process you’re at. The further down the line you are, the longer the interview will be. Either way, if you were told to allow an hour and you overrun by thirty minutes, the likelihood is you made a good impression, and the interviewer wanted to dig deeper. You’re most likely being considered for further consideration.
On the flip side, an interview that finished earlier than the scheduled time is a universally bad sign. Recruiters often have a large number of interviews to wade through, and if they feel you’re not right for the position, they’re unlikely to want to waste theirs or your time. If it ends early, it’s safe to assume you’re still in the employment market.
Positive Body Language
It’s not all about what’s being said in an interview. Body language can also give you some indication of the impression you made. Was your interviewer maintaining eye contact and leaning in when listening to you speak? This is usually a good sign you’re holding their attention. Was the atmosphere relaxed and friendly, with both parties smiling organically? All good signs.
Things probably aren’t going so well if the non-verbal signs are negative. Breaking of eye contact and leaning back in a chair are indicators that you’re failing to interest your interviewer.
How natural was the flow of the interview? Did it feel more like a conversation than part of a formal process? If you were able to build an easy and genuine rapport in what can be a stressful situation, this highlights good communication skills and an ability to fit in with the workplace culture. Ideally, we want to work with people we like, so a free-flowing conversation is a big feather in your cap.
However, if the conversation stalls too often, you’ve probably failed to generate any real connection. It could also be that the interviewer has to stay rigidly on script, but the chances are that you’ve failed to engage them.
No employer or recruiter is going to waste time introducing you to other team members unless they are seriously considering you for the position. This is being done to see how you initially interact with potential co-workers and to get their first impressions of you. Will you be a good fit for the company culture?
If you’re being introduced to more senior management or the boss, you can take this as a huge positive that things have gone swimmingly. Your interviewer liked you and is seeking validation from higher up that you’re a good choice.
It isn’t necessarily a bad sign if you don’t receive any introductions. Interview processes vary from company to company. You might even be interviewing online. Either way, it’s not a disaster if you only meet the interviewer.
Did your interviewer provide you with extra information about the company? If yes, this could well be because they think you’re a good fit for the position and are trying to sell you on working for them.
If the conversation shifts to talking about future opportunities, employee perks, and the amazing company culture, you can be confident you’ve virtually landed the job.
Extra Job Details
The initial phase of an interview traditionally focuses on a few key questions such as ‘Why do you want this job?’ or ‘Why do you want to work for us?’. If you answer these basic questions well, you can expect the interviewer to start providing more information about the specific details of the job and exactly what is required.
If this happens, you can assume their confidence in you as a potential employee is growing. Although, if no further details are forthcoming and the interviewer is deliberately vague when asked further questions, it’s safe to assume the interview has gone badly.
Were Your Questions Answered?
First of all, were you given a chance to ask questions about the job and the company? If not, you can take this to mean they have little interest in offering you the position. If you were offered the opportunity but the answers were short, and to the point, this also doesn’t bode well.
However, if the interviewer went out of their way to provide you with extra information above and beyond what was asked, you can be pretty sure your interview is going well.
We’re You Asked if You’re Considering Other Positions?
You can usually take this to mean that the interview was a success and they like you enough to want to know if there’s any competition for your employment. They might want to know who those rivals are to explain why working for ‘us’ is the better decision. Hopefully, you should know the job is in the bag at this point.
So the interview is over, and you are offered a tour of the workplace. This is another great sign an interview went well.
Only prospective candidates are going to get this treatment. They are trying to sell you on working there by meeting the team and showing you what a great environment it is to work in. Maybe there’s a decent cafeteria or a gym that might help sway you.
Hiring Logistics are Discussed
One of the more obvious signs an interview went well is if your respective employer asks about hiring details. If you’re fielding questions about how quickly you can leave your current job and potential starting dates, you shouldn’t need me to tell you that the ball is in your court.
If an interview is going well, you may well get positive feedback on the spot. The interviewer may indicate they’re looking forward to seeing you again, or they really like what they heard today. Whatever it may be, you can’t get a better indication that the interview went well than that.
Discussion of Next Steps
If there has been no clear discussion about what comes next after the interview, it’s safe to assume you didn’t make a splash, and you shouldn’t expect any further communication.
However, if the interviewer is keen to let you know what to expect moving forward or that they’ll be in contact to schedule a follow-up or second interview, then you know the interview went well.
Follow-up Email Response
It’s customary practice these days to write a thank you email after your interview. The speed and enthusiasm of the response, assuming you get one, is a great indicator of how well the interview went. If the reply is almost instant with a roadmap of how things will move forward, you can rest assured that you’re fresh in their thoughts, and they want to keep you interested in the position.
Receive no response, or there’s a delay and a severe lack of interest in their reply; it’s likely game over.
Additional Interview Info And Advice
For your next all-important interview, check out my guides on What Are Your Career Goals, How Would You Describe Yourself, the Best Questions To Ask In An Interview, What Are You Most Proud Of, or maybe even How Do You Handle Stress, Why We Should Hire You, Why Do You Want To Work Here, and How Do You Handle Conflict in 2023.
For some online preparation, why not check out Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent, Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview, Amazing Interview Answers: 44 Tough Job Interview Questions with 88 Winning Answers for that final preparation.
Or lastly, how about the INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED!: How to Ace the Interview, Sell Yourself & Get Your Dream Job, or my favorite, the How to Answer Interview Questions: 101 Tough Interview Questions, all available online today.
You can never be truly sure whether a job interview went well or not. If you have a few or more of the above positive experiences, then you can feel confident that your candidacy is being taken seriously. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that a job offer will magically land on the table. It’s important to keep applying for as many positions as possible to keep your options open.
Also, make sure to prepare for interviews by practicing your response to commonly asked questions. Research the company you’re applying to so you don’t get caught off-guard by any questions you should know the answer to.
Finally, dress appropriately for the company style and make sure you are 10-15 minutes early for the interview so you have time to relax and calm any potential nerves you may be experiencing.
Hopefully, knowing the signs an interview went well or badly will aid you in your search for the dream job. Good luck on your quest!
All the very best with your Interview!