How can you tell if the interview went well?

“ I rocked my interview” … well maybe, they were only polite.

How can you tell if the interview went well?

As I often tell candidates: “an interview cannot go really bad. It is nothing but normal if the manager you’ve met was polite and spent time listening to you. Let’s not confuse good manners with a successful interview”. 

However, there are some signs showing that the outcome will be positive. You can check below some examples (from what is a good sign until what is not a good sign).

Job interview

Within the positive signs, we usually expect :

1/ First, very concrete questions, showing the hiring manager is already anticipating the next step. For example :

• When could you potentially start?
• Could you negotiate your notice period with your current employer?
• Do you have holidays you could use to reduce your notice period?
• When would you be available for a second round?

2/ Factual information on the next steps, expressed without conditional, such as :

• When you do the business case for the next round, we can….
• When you get to meet the HR Director, she/he might ask you to bring documents…
• When you test our system, you will find out there is…
• You will see it by yourself, the budget season here is…

3/ On the other hand, some sentences should prepare you for a future “no”. They are usually process-orientated statements, making you remember you are a candidate :

• We are going to meet other applicants this week and next week, you will receive feedback in 10-15 days (usually, any feedback announced for “more than a week” is not a great sign);
• “The recruiting agency will get back to you for feedback” ( in other words, the relationship keeps running through the headhunter, not a sign of closeness with the company.)
• We will evaluate the many applications and come back to you once this analysis is completed
• We will consider internal as well as external candidates

4/ There are also careful comments to prepare you for a smooth exit, keeping the door open :

• We are still considering the exact definition of the profile, it may be that we finally decide on a more junior profile/ more experienced profile (depending usually on your own seniority level)
• The team is about to be re-organized, it could be that this changes the definition of the profile we hire. We will consider all options at this stage.


5/ Now let’s get to some tricky statements that can be good or bad, depending on the context:

Is there someone we could call for a reference?
This is very good if the question is asked by the HR at the very last stage of the process, for documentation purposes. It means they are preparing the offer and making the very last checks. But when coming earlier, and asked by the hiring manager, it is a sign the hiring team is having second thoughts about the fit between you and the role;
Can you send us some reference letters/ work certificates?
Exactly the same as above;
Give us 3 of your weaknesses/ strengths:
This question is so typical, and, in my experience, coming when the interview takes a boring turn. It can also be that the hiring manager faces question marks about you and is trying to confirm or invalidate his/her feeling;
How would your current boss describe your working style?
Same idea as above, the hiring manager is probably trying to clear a doubt she/he has about you.

6/ And the timing…

Everything is possible of course, yet I observe that a positive interview lasts 1hour and 10 minutes. 🙂
More than 1,5 hours? You probably talked too much!
50 minutes? Probably the hiring manager was polite.
The longest interview I heard of lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes: the line manager was desperately trying to close the meeting and she hated the candidate for not perceiving the non-verbal signs.
The shortest interview: 5 minutes. The hiring manager decided the candidate looked “unclever as a cow”. If it comes to this, no worries: there is no way this person would have been a good boss!

How about your experiences? Feel free to share with me !

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