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How to tell if an interview went well (or badly): 6 tell-tale signs

Written by Andrew Arkley

Wondering how to tell if an interview went well?

Waiting to hear whether you’ve got the job can be a nerve-wracking period, so recognising the signs of a good interview might put you at ease. 

Conversely, recognising signs an interview went badly should allow you to reflect, prepare yourself for possible rejection, and encourage you to continue seeking new opportunities.

Obviously you want to believe you’ve nailed the interview and bagged the job, but try to take a step back and see objectively from an outsider’s perspective.

Here’s some classic signs an interview went well or badly.

 

1. Good interview sign- The interview was longer than expected

Usually a hiring manager should say in your interview confirmation email or at the beginning of the interview roughly how long it will last. 

If you find the interview going on much longer than the given time, it’s a sign of a good interview.

Many hiring managers are busy and interviewing a number of candidates takes serious time. 

Therefore they’re unlikely to spend excess time speaking with you unless they’re genuinely interested in hiring you.

Maybe the interviewer went to pains to keep the conversation going when it could have reached a natural end, or they asked you tonnes of questions aimed at getting to know you as a person.

It suggests they’re trying to gather a 3D image of you and consider how you’d fit in with the team, and shows a genuine consideration of you as a candidate.

Bad interview sign - The interview was cut short

On the contrary, if you were told it’d last an hour, yet thirty minutes later you were waved out the door, this could be a sign the interviewer made up their mind early on that you’re not the right fit for the job. 

This could be for a variety of reasons, including flaws in your interview technique or behaviour. Research by Twin found that in a survey of 2,000 employers, 33% knew they’d hire someone within the first 30 seconds.

While 50% said they could discount a candidate down to the way they dressed, acted or even walked through the door.

Unfortunately you may have been deemed unfit for the job early on, leading to the interview being cut short.

They may also have bypassed asking you more complex questions as they weren’t satisfied with your answers to the more straightforward ones.

Or if they had a set list of interview questions and you whistled through them, your answers may have been too short and not sold yourself properly. 

Learning how to take the floor and show yourself off whilst knowing when to stop without rambling is an art, but merits practice with a friend or family member. 

 

2. Good interview sign - The interviewer spoke to you as if you already had the role

When speaking about the role and what you’d be doing if you were successful, maybe the interviewer spoke to you as if you had turned up on your first day.

Using the future tense like ‘you’ll be doing’, and ‘you’ll be working with’ suggests that your interview was going well enough for the interviewer to imagine you working there.

 

Bad interview sign - The interviewer distanced you from the role

For example, maybe the interviewer pointedly used ‘if’ and spoke of ‘the candidate’.

If the interviewer took pains to depersonalise the explanation by saying ‘Someone in this role would…’, this could be a sign your interviewer is not considering offering you the job and is trying to avoid attaching you to the role.

However, this is not always a bad interview sign; the employer might simply be remaining professional and objective.

 

3. Good interview sign - A rapport was built between you and the interviewer

A gut-feeling way to tell how an interview went is to consider the rapport you established with the interviewer (if any).

Maybe the interviewer smiled and was encouraging to your answers by nodding and showing positive expressions. Hopefully there was even some relaxed banter or laughs.

These are signs the interviewer connected with you as a person, which sheds a golden light on you as a candidate.

 

Bad interview sign - No rapport was built 

A stilted interview manifests itself in:

  • Silences after you’ve finished speaking, or pauses while the interviewer thinks hard about what to ask you next, suggesting the conversation isn’t flowing.
  • The interviewer seemed disinterested at any point, such as cutting you short mid-answer or hurrying your answer along.
  • The interviewer looked unsure or confused and asked you to explain something you’ve said.
  • Other signs like checking the clock or yawning excessively (This could be a sign you’re boring the interviewer).

 

In future, try using techniques such as smiling and nodding while the interviewer is asking questions to build a better rapport with the interviewer.

 

4. Good interview sign - You were given a tour or introduced to colleagues (and gelled with them)

If you were introduced to people you would be working with, or given a tour of the workplace after the interview, this could be a sign of a good interview.

The interviewer had the chance to save time and not show you around if they didn’t like you. 

Instead they might have chosen to show off the work environment and possibly your future colleagues to make you more likely to accept a job offer.

They may have also wanted the colleagues to meet you so they could ask them afterwards what they thought and get another perspective.

 how to tell if an interview went well

 

Bad interview sign - They walked you straight out without showing you anything

If a company were hoping to hire you they’d likely want you to see your potential work environment.

This relates to a large aspect of how to tell if an interview went well- how much the interviewer showcases the company. Which brings us onto point 5.

 

5. Good interview sign- The interviewer tried to sell you on the company

Interviews are a two-way process. It’s about you getting to know the company and environment as much as the interviewer getting a feel for you.

As such, if the interviewer is interested in getting you on board they’ll try to pitch the company to you wherever possible to ensure that you would accept a job offer.

It’s why asking about the company culture and what’s positive about the workplace are good examples of questions to ask in an interview - they give you a chance to gauge the interviewer’s interest.

If they go on and on about the company perks, how great the employees are, how nice the office is etc, this is a good interview sign.

 

Bad interview sign- The interviewer didn’t try to get you on board.

Maybe you used your chance to ask the interviewer questions to find out what they like about the company, and they halfheartedly listed a few things they like about the place, but wrapped up quite quickly.

The interviewer could be avoiding spending time advertising the company to you, knowing they probably won’t be taking your application further.

 

6. Good interview sign - The interviewer spoke about next steps

If the interviewer was considering hiring you, they’ll probably want to keep you in the loop with possible next steps. 

A good way how to tell if an interview went well is considering whether the interviewer went into detail about what to expect next. E.g. ‘We’re meeting a few people but we’ll get back to you in two days’, or ‘the next stage will be a second interview’ and gave more information.

Another good sign is if they asked you what your notice period is, or when you’d potentially be able to start in the role if successful.

 

Bad interview sign - The interviewer was vague about when to expect to hear back

The final note an employer ends the interview on can be telling. If they shooed you out the door with a non-committal ‘we’ll get back to you’, this could be a sign of a bad interview.

 

How to tell if an interview went well (or badly): Conclusion

So there you have it - our advice on how to tell if an interview went well.

Being realistic about the signs an interview went well or badly could save you heartbreak later on down the line.

Remember though that nothing is set in stone and even if your interview showed all the signs of a good interview, there’s no guarantee another candidate may not have pipped you to the post.

If you want to increase your chances of getting more interviews, PurpleCV can create you a bespoke CV

Or if you need to iron out the kinks in your interview technique to make sure you see all the good signs in your next interview, visit our blog for more interview advice.

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