How to Tell If a Job Interview Went Well

Short answer: You get the job.

I found the question “how do I know if my job interview went well” in a search phrase on my stats. So how can you tell a good interview from a bad one? Although you usually have some feeling about how you did, truth is you really don’t know how you did or even if the interview went well until you get the good-news call. Or the not-so-good-news silence and then rejection letter – if you’re lucky enough to get that.

Even if it went well, you still might not get the call-back or the job. The final decision is all about fit and of course depends on the other candidates. Sometimes there are a few really good candidates and, even if they loved you, you might not get the job. I’ve interviewed people I really liked, but knew enough about the particular job and personality of the place to know they just weren’t right for it.

I know that doesn’t feel great, but I hope it lets you know that a rejection doesn’t always reflect on you or how you interviewed. It’s like dating. There are great people out there who just aren’t right for you. In some cases, it may even be a blessing!

But then again, usually if the interview goes well you will get that call back. So how can you really tell how you did?

Here are some cues that might at least give you some sense of how the job interview went:

  • Are they leaning in toward you with enthusiasm?
  • Did they show a good deal of open body language? (In contrast to them being kind of closed down, with arms close to the body and not relaxed.)
  • Did you notice that the position of their hands or body in some way matched yours? (This sometimes happens and shows a feeling of being in synch.)
  • Were they smiling and nodding as you spoke – even if it was barely perceptible?
  • Did the interview go longer than 20 minutes?
  • Did they follow up on things you said or just stick to a script? (Some places require the script, so this only helps for places that don’t.)
  • Did you ever hear them say things like “when you are working here” or “you’ll see for yourself”?
  • Did they ask you about how soon you could start? If so, how was it phrased? If it was just a standard interview question, it would have been quickly delivered. If it’s about real interest, there might be follow-up questions or comments.
  • If they asked you whether you had any last questions, did they say it with a smile leaning in toward you with real interest or at least showing open body language?
  • Did they tell you you’ll hear from them soon?
  • Did you feel a real connection?

The more “yes” answers, the better it went. But it’s not a for-sure negative if the answers were mostly “no”. Different places have different interview styles. And as I already said, there’s also no absolute guarantee even if every answer is a “yes” and you left feeling great.

Be aware but stay in the moment!

Now here’s the most important thing…if you are consciously noticing each and every one of these things during the interview, then for goodness sake…stop yourself! You aren’t in the moment if you’re thinking about how it’s going. And it will show. It’s good to be aware enough to try to make adjustments as you go along, but for the most part, just do your best to relax and be yourself. Focus completely on the interviewer’s questions and how open and honest YOU can be. Afterward, check your own instincts for how you think it went. You’ll probably have a good idea.

But since you can never know what they want or what type of person they want (you’d be amazed at how different employers can be in what they think makes a good match), your best bet is to just breathe a deep sigh of relief after you leave the interview, congratulate yourself on doing the best you could, and then just get on with enjoying your life. You’ve done all you can. (Once you’ve sent the polite thank-you notes, of course.)

If it’s a good fit, they’ll call you. If not, you lucked out. Hopefully the next one will be the one. Or the next. It will happen!


A few more “waiting after the interview” articles to help:


 

About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

Comments

  1. I’ve notice when I have interviews my confidence level goes down because I feel like I do not qualify but at the same time I am a smart woman. I think it shows and therefore I am still unemployed for 4 years. Really faustrating because I have children to provide. I recently had a group interview and noticed they were more qualify than me and I think I showed less confidence but was still able to smile and stay interested. I don’t know if I did good or not it’s like a 50/50 chance. I wanted to ask her personal questions about the position but the other girl (by the way knows the people from the company, has connections) kept talking to the hiring manger taking our time so I could not stay until she was done after the interview because had to go back home to kids. Do you think I should call her after 2 days of the interview. by the way she said she was going to call us monday for an update. Thanks.

    • You are not the only person that has ever struggled with these issues of confidence. What you should do is to get help tackling them. You might try exploring ToastMasters and other public speaking groups — and also volunteering at a cause that you care about. These experiences can help you develop more confidence, which may in turn — lead to more opportunities and a job. If they’ve said they will follow up tomorrow (Monday), wait until Wednesday to follow-up with them. Given them enough time to get back to you.

      Good luck,
      Chandlee

  2. Snoglydox says:

    What about a phone interview?

    I also have an issue with certain managers at my previous employer; the owners respect me, but the manager do not. I was a long term employee, so it looked bad for the new management when I left; they implied they were going to make it hard for me, which is the reason I left (I knew it was futile to work under such people.) If a prospective is not giving me that first interview because of these insecure managers at a previous employer, how do I get pass that in my resume?

    • Snogly Dox,

      Typically a reference check with a previous employer doesn’t happen until after a phone interview. Simply say that you left to pursue new opportunities. Focus on the job and what you can bring — the previous employer should become less relevant over time.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

  3. I want to share my recent experience with one of IT companies that I attended interview went for more than an hour, I have answered everything they asked, felt like we were in sync with each other. After I am done with the interview HR said that they update me by end of day or next. I waited till EOD them I called HR for status, said that they yet to get update from interview panel, next day again while I called I got the same update, immediately a few mins later I got mail from the HR as below
    “We regret to inform you that we are not in a position to pursue you based on our assessment of your skills in the personal interview had with you on 15.11.12.”
    Then I requested HR if the feedback can be more detailed on which areas I didn’t meet interviewer expectations could help me focus & improve on those, for that she replied that she cant question the management who done the interview.
    Since I know that I have done the interview well I felt that there is perception problem here due to reason I am currently unemployed which is hard to overcome. Strange I know I am better organized now than I was at job where my focus mainly on specific things of projects I was handling. Well, I am just not the right fit I know..

    • Naga,

      If you feel that it is your unemployment that is getting in the way, try to do something that you can put on your resume that shows you are doing something.

      True story: A friend who had been unemployed volunteered at a local cable access tv station. They taught him how to shoot video. He volunteered to cover local meetings. It turned out that was a paid part-time job. He put it on his resume and suddenly — three interviews in three weeks. One led to a job offer.

      Having something on your resume can really help — and increase your access to networking. You may want to try this as a strategy; it sounds as though you have a lot to offer.

      Good luck and all the very best,
      Chandlee

      • Thanks, that is an eye opener! I start to lookout for something already shared this to some of my contacts. Hope I find some thing for survival.

  4. My experience with work and interviews. Employers like to see (unfortunately) if you are currently working. It shows employability and if you are unemployed for long time, it doesnt look good on resume. Find something, anything for employment, even at Walmart or McDonalds. Do something because it shows you are working, maybe even not part of the field of work you are applying into…

    • Bob,

      I agree that employers like to see others working. Volunteer work is also a nice option as it brings visibility — especially within the field you want to work in.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

  5. can i have all the info that guides me in to knowing how a interview went.

    • Thandi,

      I wish I could click my heels three times and give you the answer you seek. Unfortunately it’s more complicated than that as many companies provide very little feedback and certainly don’t follow-up when you think they will. The only time that you can be certain an interview went well is when you get a follow-up interview invitation or a job offer — or if someone calls or emails you to tell you that the interview went well but that they have hired someone else (or are not hiring for the position.)

      Best of luck to you,
      Chandlee

  6. had an interview today. the bloke was noticably uncomfortable with me, felt like he was the candidate not me. weird. he was quite closed up. doubt i got the job. kind of p*sses me off cos im well qualified for it, but he was switched off from the first minute, so what can you do? I was well spoken, I dressed nice, I said the right things, and I doubt any of that mattered. Not fair.

    • Dani,

      It may not have anything to you. He may not have been having a good day or interview with a “flat emotion” to throw people off. Sometimes people actually do that intentionally. Send a thank you note anyway and reiterate your interest in the organization and the company. Then keep looking.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

  7. Hello there: I have a quick question on interviews. I am in consulting. My interviews are fairly positive but it seems the executive staff sometimes just asks me recommendaitons and consulting advice on how they need help but in two situations they did not hire me.. Something tells me I am overqualified for their traditional perm. roles… If I am problem solving their issues on the interiview and they are taking notes its a good sign…but they are not hiring me.. probably because of the level of the role..

    Any ideas? Also, I hate providing advice.. It’s like hire me then.

    • Karen,

      Sounds like your intuition may be correct, unfortunately. I am not in the consulting industry so cannot give you specific advice on how to handle it — I recommend you seek out other consultants and ask how they handle this situation. (I would imagine that you are not the first person to have ever experienced this type of challenge.)

      One thing you could potentially say is “if hired, I would evaluate _______, ________, and ________ before making suggestions on how to proceed.”

      Good luck and all the very best,
      Chandlee

  8. I had written many a day ago about my interview with a company in july . After that interview , I was sent to a management assessment , and from all feedback ive heard , I aced it . now 8 months after the interviews , and 2 emails stating the job was filled , I find myself as 1 of 3 candidates left . after so much confusion , is this job even worth it?

    • Hi Kelly,

      It could be that several unexpected things happened in filling this job, but that it will be a good place to work. Or it could be very poorly run and a terrible place to work. Hard to know.

      Think about the interviews. Did you like the people? Did it seem like a good environment, with people happy to work there.

      Good luck!
      Susan

  9. Hi Chandlee,

    I had an interview recently for a research position in a company. It wasnt with any of the HR types (already had that one) but with one of the actual people I might end up working with. There were not really a lot of questions asked so it was basically me going through my experience and him stopping me to ask questions to elaborate on things.

    My worry is this; during the interview, I focussed on a lot of research work I have done in the past and although I have analytical lab experience too (which they want), I didnt emphasize on that. Towards the end of the interview, the interviewer started telling me a bit about the department and specifically told me how they always test each piece of equipment they buy before using it to make sure it works right (like they do in analytical labs). My question is, was the interviewer trying to tell me my way of doing things is not what he is looking for ? Or could this just be him telling me about the department ?

    Oh, and I know in the end, only time will tell what the interviewer meant, but I would really like your perspective on the above.

    Thanks !

    • Hi Adam,

      From this distance, it is hard to tell what was in the interviewer’s mind when he told you how they test equipment before buying it. You may never know what he meant, unless you get the job and have a chance to ask him. And he may have meant nothing at all, just filling you in on how they work.

      It is too bad that you didn’t focus more on your analytical lab experience, but it might not be too late. You could include it in your interview thank you, or, assuming you have already sent your thank you, you could send a follow up message that clarifies and describes your relevant experience for him.

      Keep looking!

      Good luck!
      Susan

      • Hi Susan,

        Thanks for the reply and the tip on following up. About the analytical lab experience, I forgot to mention that the interviewer did comment on the fact that I had a strong analytical background. I already sent them a thank you note, but I will be following up in a little while and I will be sure to reiterate how my analytical experience ties into their work. Unfortunately, the follow up will have to be through their HR department, so I am not sure if it will mean much to them.

        But thank you nonetheless for the reply. The interviewer actually told me about the testing when I asked him about why he liked working there. I guess in light of what you said, that maybe he just went off on a tangent.

        • You’re very welcome, Adam. A job search is tough, and we try to help here at WorkCoachCafe.com. Hope this one works out for you!

          Good luck!
          Susan

  10. CATHERINE EARL says:

    Just a thought. Make sure that you are “polished” up to and during the interview. Look at your resumes. Are they the best they can be? Are there an grammatical errors? This can make or break a job. And, keep in mind that there is a “fit” for each job. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get one job over another. It just wasn’t your “fit”. There is one out there for everyone.

    • chandlee says:

      Catherine,

      Thanks for your message and participation in the Work Coach Cafe community. We appreciate it.

      Best,
      Chandlee Bryan

  11. So I recently had an interview at a minimum wage paying job, I’m 19 and this was a cashier position for a restaurant. I’ve been a waitress before for about 5 months before this.

    I talked to a female manager and I felt that she really liked me, she asked my availability and said that it was a great fit and that they could even offer me full time with the availability I had. I told her I could start asap and she said great. She then told me she wanted me to meet the general manager even though he was really busy.

    This is what stumps me, after the interview I asked the general manager when I would hear from him and he said maybe the next day, its been three days.. I was thinking I would call in a couple days and just check in but I’m not sure what this all means…

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Sarah,

      It often takes longer than a few days for a call back as managers also have on-going work.

      Good luck and all the best,
      Chandlee

  12. Can someone please give me an interview story with a happy ending?

    • chandlee says:

      Hi Theo,

      Many of our readers do comment on their frustrations, but yes — we also get stories with a happy ending. Here’s one of my own: Years ago, I interviewed for a job and came in second to someone with eight more years of experience than I had. I stayed in touch with the organization, a year later they invited me down for an interview — I got the job, and I worked with them for years. I loved it.

      Does that work?

      Good luck to you,
      Chandlee

  13. Hi
    I haven’t entered to any comments on any web site related to jobs. This one how ever I shall.

    I went for an interview yesterday.

    I was shortlisted not from an interview but from my CV.
    They pulled the ad as they received so many applicants.
    I was told through my interview out of many I was shortlisted to 6.
    After a year of unemployment that was a godsend!

    I went for the interview yesterday and can only hope I did well..
    I just spoke of what I know in the industry and gave examples, and smiled as I do.
    Reading this site i am happy I used those skills and more.

    I have had many no replies from other positions I had applied for.

    In my position it is very diverse, and I stressed that in my interview.

    Management Contract administration .

    I will let you know how it went, he did say I ticked all the boxes and he would ring on Thursday which is tomorrow.
    I was quite astounded at the timeline.

    Will go into more details after I find out. Regardless whether I am accepted for the position or not, as I still was accepted for the final interview.

    Thank you for this web site, it helped in many ways.

    Sophia

    • Thank you, Sophia, WorkCoachCafe is here to help job seekers as much as we can.

      This opportunity sounds very promising. Hope that it worked out for you!

      Good luck!
      Susan

  14. I have just finished an interview for a manager role in the NHS. The intervewers appeared pleasant and calm and asked me questions on how my skills matched the role. I do not know how well I did and I am not a bit bothered right now because the last interview I went for went well too and I was so hopeful I was going to get it only to be called by the Director the next day informing me I did not get the job,he said that I was second most favourite candidate..lol..If this one goes well ok. If not, I’ll just stick to what I am doing for now. I have had enough trouble already preparing, and I am not going to give myself anymore headaches till I hear from them.

    • Good plan, Lily! And keep looking for that next job. If this one isn’t it, maybe the next one will be the perfect job for you.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  15. I attended interviews the other day, the general feel was positive. A lot of “yes” answers with the questions posed here. I hope I get the job, I really need this job.

  16. Hi there,

    I went through a rigorous interview about 3 weeks ago for a senior position in a global medical devices organization. The initial interview went quite well, from a field of 10 potential candidates I was one the 2 top candidates selected for the final interview. I answered almost all questions well, the Country manager who was leading the interview commended my experience, academic credentials and attitude. We had a good connection. We even talked about our interest for certain cars, family etc, on his request. I had prepared a presentation which was also received well. After the interview, we shook hands as they congratulated me for a good interview. It felt like a had bagged the job already. I sent a thank you note to which they responded well and said they will get in touch. Its been 3 weeks now and counting.I followed up after 2 weeks but got no responce. I dont want to spoil my chances here. How should I approach this?

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Mr. J.

      Follow up again via phone. Ask for the current status of the job, and what the next steps are.

      Be prepared to leave a message. If you need to leave a message, give them the job title, the date of the last interview, and the people who interviewed you. Then ask them to let you know the current status and the next steps. Tell them you are still very interested in the position.

      Good luck with your job search!
      Susan

  17. Desaraigh says:

    Hey

    So I had a group interview yesterday (june 5) my first one ever. It was interesting. I had studied up on the company and was able to ask pretty relevant questions at the end. My fellow candidates were all quiet or nervous. Some rambled (a lot and didn’t really answer questions) some were very abrupt and came off almost cold. My question would be that this company rrally values its “culture” so how everyone works within themselves, if I presented them with knowledge of the company, proper attire, a genuine desire to work there do you think I would be hired?
    I have been out of work almost 3 years (had a kid and was a student) woild that hinder their desire to hire me? Also what would you suggest I do with regards to previous employer references? Some I have not seen or talked tk in years.

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Desaraigh,

      It sounds like you were the best candidate in the group interview, but many things can impact a hiring decision.

      You need to have an answer for the 3-year work gap (being a student and becoming a mother are good explanations) that you provide even if not asked – because they will wonder. It should also be on your resumes.

      You definitely need to connect with your references! Talk with them! Find out what they are doing and update them on what you are doing – give them a copy of your current resume. Also, ask if anyone has contacted them about you – who and when?

      Good luck with the job search!
      Susan

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