8 Signs You Aced That Job Interview (and 4 Signs You Didn’t) was originally published on The Muse, a great place to research companies and careers. Click here to search for great jobs and companies near you.
You just wrapped up a job interview for a role you’re excited about. You think it went well. But wait, did it?
Now that you’ve had some time to take a breath and reflect on that conversation, the confusion and self-doubt have kicked in. You’re chewing your nails and overanalyzing every answer, offhand remark, and facial expression, searching for clues about whether or not you can expect a second interview.
You aren’t alone—we all do it. The job search is filled with a lot of uncertainty, and there’s no surefire way to get inside your interviewer’s head. Fortunately, there are a few signs that indicate you knocked your interview out of the park (and conversely, there are some clues you can pick up on if it didn’t go so well).
Before we jump in, a friendly disclaimer: When it comes to the interview process, there’s really no such thing as foolproof signs. While the things we’re about to discuss are generally positive, they aren’t a guarantee. Similarly, if these things didn’t happen in your interview, that doesn’t mean it was a disaster. There are always exceptions.
Got it? Good. Now, let’s talk about some signs that you likely hooked that interviewer and are one step closer to landing that job.
1. Your Interview Ran Longer Than Scheduled
Your interview was scheduled for half an hour, but it was closer to 45 minutes or an hour before your conversation wrapped up. Chances are, your interviewer is interested in you and was highly engaged in the information you were providing.
“As a former recruiter, if I knew it wasn’t a fit, I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time and would generally wrap up right at the scheduled time,” says Muse career coach Emily Liou, founder and career happiness coach at CultiVitae. “But when we found a stellar candidate, we would try to spend additional time to flush out what we needed to know to make an informed decision.”
2. Your Interviewer’s Body Language Cues Were Positive
Nonverbal communication—particularly body language—carries a lot of weight, says Muse career coach Eliot Kaplan, former VP of Talent Acquisition at Hearst Magazines. “Does the recruiter seem engaged with what you’re saying? Are they leaning forward when you say something particularly incisive? Smiling? Do their eyes have some spark in them?”
While these types of cues can be more difficult to pick up on in a video interview, there are a few things you can look out for. For example, it’s a good thing if your interviewer makes frequent eye contact with their camera and sits upright rather than slumped in their chair.
3. Your Conversation Flowed Naturally
While this is easy to forget when your nerves are running high, interviews really are human-to-human conversations. Kaplan explains that if your interaction flowed more like a natural discussion and less like an interrogation, that’s a positive. Polite small talk and some friendly back-and-forth indicate that the interviewer was not only interested in you, but also felt a certain level of comfort.
Just be aware that some companies conduct very structured interviews with set lists of questions asked in a certain order to satisfy diversity and inclusion criteria or abide by other company policies, so don’t get discouraged if your interviewer seemed to stick to the script.
4. You Were Asked Follow-Up Questions
Interested interviewers will dig deeper into your answers with related questions. “Are they asking follow-up questions that build well upon what you are saying? Or do they seem like they’re just going through their checklist of required questions?” Kaplan says.
Pressing you for additional detail is a good sign, even if it feels a little intimidating in the moment. Keep in mind, though, that if they’re simply restating the same question they already asked, it could be a sign that you aren’t giving enough information in your initial answer.
5. They Want You to Meet Other Team Members
“When you’re asked to meet with other team members who weren’t originally scheduled or you’re asked to meet with their boss, that’s a very strong indicator that they are excited about you,” Liou says. Most likely, “they want to advocate that you’re the perfect fit and ensure that the approval process gets expedited by having other influencers meet you.”
This isn’t necessarily a common scenario, especially if your job interviews are taking place virtually, so don’t take it as a bad sign if you only meet with your scheduled interviewer. However, if the hiring manager mentions wanting to introduce you to their boss, a department leader, or another decision maker (even if it doesn’t happen instantaneously), you can still mark a check in the “positive signs” column.
6. Your Interviewer “Sold” You on the Job and Company
It can be tough to remember that job interviews are supposed to go both ways, but they do. The employer is evaluating if you’re a good match for the role and the company, and you’re collecting more information to see if this is a place you’d like to work.
With that in mind, if your interviewer is actively selling you on the job—by touting things like growth opportunities, perks, company culture, accolades, and more—that’s a sign they want to get you excited about the position. Similarly, take note if they ask about your job search and if you’re interviewing with other employers. They could be evaluating how competitive of an offer they need to make.
7. Your Interviewer Gave You a Timeline for Next Steps
Getting to this interview is a big deal, but it’s also just one step in the hiring process. If your interviewer went into detail about the hiring timeline and what you could expect to happen next, that means they’re interested and want you to be in the loop on what’s coming up.
Not only is this a good sign about your candidacy, but it also says a lot about that employer. It’s proof that they have a clear and organized interview process and value transparency for their applicants (and likely their employees too).
8. Your Follow-Up Email Got a Quick Response
You know the importance of sending a thank you note after your interview, and you took that advice and wrote a friendly, personalized email. That message received a response almost immediately to thank you for your time and to tell you that they’ll be in touch soon.
A quick reply is confirmation that you’re top of mind and they want to keep you engaged in the hiring process. Even better than that? There was an email about next steps in your inbox before you even had a chance to press “send” on your own thank you note.
You Aced Your Interview—Now What?
You’ve tallied some (or maybe even all) of the above signs, and now you’re feeling confident that you can expect to move forward in the process. Here are a few things you should do to make the most of that momentum:
- Take a minute to celebrate—you’ve earned it!
- Send a thank you note or email if you haven’t already. According to one survey, 80% of hiring managers find these messages at least somewhat helpful when reviewing candidates.
- Jot down some notes about the important information you received as well as some of the main points you mentioned and stories you told in the interview. If you move forward in the process, it’s good to have these details to refer back to.
- Avoid thinking you’re a shoo-in until you get confirmation that you’re moving forward. Confidence is a great thing, but you also don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself and set yourself up for disappointment.
Now let’s talk about the flipside: You have this sinking feeling that maybe your interview didn’t go as well as you hoped. If you noticed some of the following signs, they could mean that you need to continue your search and prepare to nail future interviews with other employers.
Keep in mind that nothing is a guarantee, and the only way you’ll know for sure is when you get either a polite rejection email or hear that the company wants to invite you to do a second interview, an interview assignment, or another next step.
1. Your Interviewer Wasn’t Paying Attention
If your interviewer appears to be somewhere else mentally or you notice them looking at another screen during your video interview, Kaplan says, they might be disinterested or disengaged from your conversation.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that they were taking a quick look at your resume or their list of interview questions. So don’t place too much weight into a brief distraction or break in eye contact. That’s way different from a lack of commitment to your entire conversation.
2. You Didn’t Talk About Next Steps
When you got to the end of the questions, your interviewer didn’t provide any information about what happens next, when they’ll be making a hiring decision, or what you can expect once that conversation comes to an end.
While it’s entirely probable that they simply forgot—or that they don’t know (which in itself could be a red flag)—it might mean that you won’t be moving forward in the process and they didn’t feel the need to get into those details.
3. You Didn’t Have an Opportunity to Ask Questions
“Unless you’re running up against the clock, if an interviewer cuts the interview without asking if they can address any of your questions, they may have already made their decision to continue their search,” Liou says. “Generally speaking, interviews are a two-way street and positive interview experiences will allow both parties to learn more about one another.”
If you were given the opportunity to ask questions but your interviewer provided really curt or vague answers, that’s also not a great sign for your candidacy or for that employer’s commitment to respectful and transparent communication.
4. Your Interview Ended Early
If an interview running long is a good sign, then an interview wrapping up well before its scheduled sign is typically a bad sign.
But as with all of these indicators, there can be exceptions. Maybe they’ve already decided that you’re a great fit and didn’t feel the need to drag out the interview unnecessarily. For a more accurate grasp on how your interview went, look for this sign combined with some of the other red flags.
You Bombed Your Interview—Now What?
OK, so all signs point to the fact that the interview didn’t pan out as well as you hoped. It’s a bummer, but it doesn’t mean you should write it off as a flop and wash your hands of it. We can be unnecessarily hard on ourselves, and there’s still a possibility that your interview went better than your harsh inner critic would have you believe.
Regardless, there are a few more things you should do to make the most of the experience:
- Take a minute to feel disappointed—that’s totally normal.
- Send a thank you note or email. This is always a smart move, regardless of how you think the interview went.
- Reflect on your interview and write down some notes for how you can be better prepared and what you want to do differently in any future interviews.
Remember, every single interview—whether it ran off the rails or went off without a hitch—is a chance to learn something. So take away what you can and you’ll be ready to make the most of whatever opportunity comes your way next.