The job interview went well — or at least you think it did. You were cool and confident, answering questions with ease and projecting a friendly, professional demeanor. At this point, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get hired, right?
Not so fast. You might think the job interview went well, or you might think it was a bust. But unless you’re paying attention to how your interviewer behaved, you could be making all the wrong assumptions about your chances. Employers will often give you subtle clues as to how they feel about you during an interview. Sometimes, those indicators, such as an ultra-short interview or lack of follow-up questions, are a sign you’re not making the grade. Others, such as positive body language and relaxed chitchat, suggest you’re making a positive impression.
Being able to read an interviewer can give you a lot of insight into your ultimate chances of getting a job, but it’s not foolproof. As with most other things in life, there are no guarantees when it comes to job searching. You could have wowed the interviewer, but budget cuts or other issues might cause a company to put a hold on hiring, or a more impressive candidate could have walked in the door right after you. So what should you look for to determine your chances?
Positive signs aren’t always a good thing
Job searchers should temper their expectations, even when they receive positive feedback from interviewers, according to Alison Green, an HR expert. “Even if the interviewer says, ‘You’re just what we’re looking for,’ or, ‘We’re so excited to have found you,’ or, ‘I can’t wait to have you start,'” you may not get the offer, she wrote on the Ask a Manager blog. “[T]hings change — better candidates appear, budgets get frozen, an internal candidate emerges, the position is restructured and you’re not longer the right fit for it, a different decision-maker likes someone else better, one of your references is wonky and makes them gun-shy, or all kinds of other possibilities.”
Nonetheless, some things employers say during job interviews can generally be taken as positive signs. If you hear these five things from your interviewer, there’s a reasonable chance you’re going to get hired.
1. ‘Can you send me your references?’
At most companies, checking references is the final step in the hiring process. They’ve already decided they want to hire you, but they just want to do their due diligence before making it official. If your interviewer ends your conversation with a request for references, it’s a good sign. But know that some employers might ask for references as a matter of course, so being invited to hand over contact info for your former bosses isn’t a guarantee an offer will be forthcoming.
“Generally a request for references is a good sign. Most organizations only ask if you’ve passed the initial interview vetting, and they view your candidacy positively,” Lars Schmidt, who is the founder of Amplify Talent, told HR Bartender. “It’s not a guarantee of offer, but it’s an indication they’re feeling favorable enough about your potential to get more insight.”
2. ‘Do you have a few more minutes?’
When a 30-minute interview stretches to 45 minutes or an hour, things are looking up for your job prospects. A longer interview signals the employer is interested in getting to know you and learning more about your experience. On the other hand, a very short interview is often a red flag.
“Nine times out of ten, if the interview time was a lot less than the actual time allocated — you haven’t got the job! They have made their mind up quickly and do not want to go into any more depth into the job or with you,” recruiter Rebekah Shields wrote in a blog post for LinkedIn.
3. ‘Let me introduce you to the team’
When a one-on-one interview turns into a meet-and-greet with the rest of the office, you may already have a foot in the door. At this point, you’ve probably proved you have what it takes to do the job. Now, your interviewer wants to introduce you to potential co-workers so you can both make sure the position is a good fit culture and personality-wise. But pay attention to the nature of the tour you’re given. A general spin around the office is more likely to be standard interviewing procedure, while introductions to key players may be a sign you’re something special.
“When hiring managers are keenly interested in you, they oftentimes want to get the opinions of others. That may include their peers, their bosses, and your peers,” Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, told Business Insider.
4. ‘Are you interviewing anywhere else?’
If a company is really interested in hiring you, they want to make sure they’re not going to lose you to another employer. When your interviewer asks about whether you’re interviewing other places, what your timeline is for making a decision about your next career move, or if you have an offer on the table, they’re trying to figure out how quickly they need to act before you get way.
“They’re getting an idea of how active you are in the interview process,” Devony Coley, senior consultant for the recruiting firm WinterWyman, told Fast Company. “Are you starting your search? Testing the waters? Or do you have other solid opportunities? This question helps them know if they need to step up their hiring pace so they don’t lose you.”
5. ‘We’ll let you know by Thursday’
When someone says “We still have a few more candidates to interview” or “We’ll be in touch soon,” it’s often a sign you didn’t ace the interview. The employer is being vague or noncommittal, either for reasons of politeness or because they’d prefer to keep their options open. When someone gives you a firm date for when they hope to make a hiring decision, that’s a good sign.
“If an interviewer is interested in a candidate, they may even ask when you’d like to or need to have their decision by,” Bryan Brulotte, president of MaxSys Consulting & Staffing, wrote on LinkedIn. “They won’t let you leave without knowing what your timeline looks like.”
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