According to Gus Cooney, a social psychologist at Harvard University, people often underestimate how much people like them—your interview may have gone better than you think. So what are some hidden signs that can help you gauge your performance at a job interview? This article provides 20 positive signs that your interview went great!
Having one sign alone may not guarantee a positive outcome, but if you notice a few signs below have appeared, you’ve likely impressed your interviewer!
Specific compliments of your skills or experiences
Compliments are always excellent but especially valuable at job interviews. Interviewers need to ask meaningful (sometimes challenging) questions or even stress-test you, so they usually wouldn’t shower you with compliments. Therefore, if you hear compliments at your interview, it’s a very positive sign!
Sometimes, the interviewer will tell you directly that your skills and experience are a perfect fit for their organization, and they would love to have you. They may say, “I’m impressed by what you have done.” The more specific compliment, the better. It’s great if you hear something like…
- I love your experience with ____!
- It looks like you are strong in the __ area.
- What an amazing resume you have in the ___ industry.
It’s important to notice whether the interviewer compliments you enthusiastically instead of just being polite.
Action Step: Get familiar with vocal cues of enthusiasm and more with this list: Decoding Vocals – 21 Cues of Paralanguage & Prosody to Know.
Having an in-depth discussion in one area mentioned on your resume
It is good if the interviewer asks a series of follow-up questions (3-5 questions) about one particular experience or skill on your resume—the interviewer is perhaps interested in what you offer.
Typical follow-up questions include “What has influenced your decision” “How did you rule out other options” or “What were some of the thoughts going in your mind?” Otherwise, the interviewer may mechanically go through her list of questions, jumping from one question to another:
- What did you do at company X?
[jump to a non-related question]
- Ok, what programming language do you know?
However, for some industries, e.g., consulting, it’s a common practice to dig deeper into almost all behavior questions. In this case, a series of follow-up questions would not suggest a spiked interest from the interviewer.
Generally speaking, if the interviewer suddenly starts to ask significantly more follow-up questions about a particular skill or experience than they did with other areas, that’s a good sign.
Engaging you for longer than scheduled
You don’t want to stop when you are in a conversation you enjoy. The same goes for a discussion in the interview room. Your interviewer’s time is precious—many of them dislike conducting interviews because it’s a piece of extra work on top of their already busy schedule.
Therefore, if your interview schedule was for 30 minutes, but it went on to 45 minutes or even 60 minutes, don’t fret! Your interviewer probably enjoyed chatting with you.
Finding a job is similar to finding a life partner because the interviewer must enjoy talking to you first. And if the interviewer has enjoyed talking to you, she would likely want to work with you.
Discussing benefits and rewards with you
It may be common to hear about benefits and rewards from HR. However, it’s a great sign if you hear help from a hiring manager, such as “We treat our interns very well here,” or “We also provide gym membership and daycare.”
Your hiring manager might only mention those benefits unless she feels you are an excellent candidate and that she needs to use all the tricks she knows to woo you.
Showing positive body language
Nonverbal language is just as important as verbal language. If the interviewer frequently smiles at your responses, leans towards where you are seated, and maintains intense eye contact with you when you speak, she is probably interested in what you can offer. These cues are called pro-social behaviors. It means someone wants to engage, stay curious, and build rapport.
Pro Tip: Harness your superpower by learning to read body language! Read Vanessa Van Edwards’s bestselling book, Cues: Master, the Secret Language of Charismatic Communication, to learn all 96 cues you should know!
Giving you specific dates on when you will hear back from the company
People often use vague language when they don’t mean what they say. But when they truly mean it, they might want to show their sincerity with precise language such as “You should hear from us within 5 days or no more than 10 days!”
Meanwhile, don’t sweat if you hear a general statement like “Let’s see how it goes.” It could mean that although the interviewer may not have been blown away by you, you’re still one of the candidates they are considering. Thank them, and keep showing your enthusiasm for working with them in your follow-up correspondence.
Discussing salary expectations
When the interviewer asks questions like “What salary are you expecting?” they might be seriously considering you for that position. Interviewers may also kick off a salary discussion by sharing how much the company usually pays its employees. Even better if they engage in a full-blown salary negotiation with you after you’ve shared your expectation.
Don’t worry if you aren’t sure about how much to negotiate for—you can always thank them and say you would like some time to consider.
Showing you around
Sometimes, at the end of the interview, your interviewer may initiate an office tour, introducing you to other colleagues working in the company. They may also ask someone else to give you the time. Both are good signs! Because they are probably proud of their work environment, work culture, or happy employees, they want to make sure that you witness those first-hand.
Special Tip: In a virtual interview? They might show you the software they use or other team communication tools.
Saying ‘when’ instead of ‘if.’
The interviewer may sometimes speak in a favorable language without realizing it! Generally speaking, interviewers use neutral language, starting with “if”: “if you are selected.”
But sometimes, the interviewer may unintentionally switch to speaking with “when”: “When you start, you can expect this.” This is an excellent sign because, in her head, she is already picturing you in that role!
You receive an instant reply to your ‘Thank you’ email
Ever sent a message to a friend, and you got an answer within seconds? Your friend is probably eager and happy to hear from you when that happens.
Similarly, if you receive a rapid response from your interviewer after sending you a “thank you” note, chances are she is happy to hear from you, too. Most interviewers have a pile of work waiting for them—replying to your email is unlikely to be their priority unless they see you in a favorable light.
Initiating casual conversations
The job interview can feel like a pretty serious conversation. But if your interviewer switches from asking you professional questions to more casual questions, it probably means
1) they believe you have already answered the professional questions well; and
2) they want to get to know you as a person!
Simple questions can be “What do you enjoy doing most during your free time?” Or when she has found a common interest with you and decides to dig deeper: “Captain America is your favorite character, too? Tell me what you like about him most!”
According to research conducted by Lauren Rivera at Kellogg School of Management, when an interviewer begins to talk about hobbies and passion with you, she is likely to be the champion for you in the hiring-committee meetings.
Action Steps: Prepare 1-2 casual questions to ask your interviewer when the conversation becomes more informal, such as “What’s the highlight of your day today?” and “What passion project are you working on?”
Indicating that she likes what she’s heard
You can also be proactive and ask the interviewer what kind of candidates will be ideal for them. When you ask this question, you will be more likable because it implies that you will always strive to be as close to what the company desires as possible—the top attribute companies are looking for.
Equally importantly, you will know better whether you have a good chance of getting the job because one of the two things will happen:
1) You may not be their ideal candidate judging by the description of their ideal candidates; or
2) their description matches your profile.
If you didn’t ask this question during an interview, but you heard them say something along the lines of “When you talked about [a specific attribute or experience], that’s exactly what we’re looking for,” it’s also a sign that you’re their ideal candidate.
Asking about your availability/schedule
If the interviewer asks about your availability, such as “Are you good to start next Monday,” Or “When do you think you can start,” you have slammed-dunked the interview, and they are ready for the next stage. It happens more frequently in the last-round interview, but possibly sooner too, especially when the team is understaffed and wants your help as quickly as possible.
Asking, “Do you have other job offers?”
If your interviewer asks about other job prospects, such as “Are you offered a job elsewhere? Or “Do you have another place in mind?” she wants to gauge how passionate you are about working for their company and wants to know the odds of accepting the job.
This question can also imply that your interviewer wants to know how quickly she needs to make a job offer to you. Either way, the interviewer wants you, and it’s a sign that you’ve likely landed the job.
Saying “Best of luck for the rest of your interviews” at the end of an interview
If you have more rounds of interviews coming, and the current interviewer says, “Good luck for the rest of your interviews!” or “Let me know how it goes for the rest of your interviews,” in an upbeat tone, then it’s a great sign that you have at least past the current round. Meanwhile, it might not be a good sign if they end with “thank you” without much enthusiasm.
The bottom line is if the interviewer exhibits excitement to know about your future, she probably wants you to work here.
Assuring you of another interview/meeting
Sometimes, the hiring manager may want you to speak to their team: “I’d love for you to talk to Alice, too. She works closely with me.” When this happens, the hiring manager may already favor you; otherwise, they wouldn’t want their team members to waste time on you. But they also want to make sure that not only do they like you, but so does their team.
As long as you don’t do anything dramatically wrong when you speak with the team, you will likely look favorable. The team chats usually aren’t intended to qualify you but to ensure there’s no red flag.
Calling you by your name often.
When an interviewer isn’t interested in hearing you, you probably won’t hear your name much—her focus is on the questions, not on you. If you hear your word often when the interviewer asks questions, such as “Claire, like you said earlier…” or “Claire, how do you think we can improve our product?” they might have already liked you.
Inviting you to connect on LinkedIn
The interviewee sends most LinkedIn requests to the interviewer, not the other way around. Therefore, if you hear the interviewer say, “Connect with us on LinkedIn” at the end of the interview, or when the interviewer sends a LinkedIn request to connect with you, that is a rare gem!
Your interviewer probably wants to stay in touch with you or convince you how good their company is by showcasing what’s on their LinkedIn. An invitation to connect on LinkedIn likely means they want to provide you with the job!
Giving you a firm handshake
On the other hand, similar to a lukewarm “thank you” at the end of the interview, a cold-fish handshake or none at all might indicate otherwise. But do consider other signs to make a more comprehensive judgment.
Mood changing for the better
Your interviewer’s judgment towards you can change during an interview. They may start bored but later become interested because of your traits or experiences. You can tell they are getting more interested when they are nodding more frequently, looking at you in the eye more, smiling more, or saying more, “Good, go on.”
Do not worry if your interviewer sounds uninterested initially—it’s common for someone who barely knows you. What’s more important is how they end up feeling about you. If the interviewer feels excited, that’s a good sign, despite how it started.
In general, you want to look for signs showing that
- The interviewer is interested in knowing you, such as switching from professional questions to casual topics, calling you by your name, or leaning in when you speak.
- The interviewer wants to be part of your future by asking about your availability, arranging follow-up conversations, or inviting you to connect.
- You had a long, in-depth discussion, such as having a longer-than-usual interview or diving deep into your specific attribute or experience.
Having just one sign may not guarantee a positive outcome, but having a few symptoms appear can give you powerful indications. Meanwhile, the most productive thing to do may be to leave a past interview in the past and start preparing for the next one.
Good luck with your interview!