Today’s the day: after weeks on the job hunt, you can finally put on your best clothes, do your hair, and put all of your interview preparation to work. You’re nervous about meeting the hiring manager, but you’re hopeful that, by the end of the interview, they’ll see why you’re the best person for the job.
But how do you know if you made a good first impression? A third of interviewers decide within 90 seconds whether or not they like a candidate, but you’ll have to wait anywhere between 24 hours to two weeks for them to tell you.
In the meantime, you might try to draw your own conclusions. Perhaps you didn’t make enough eye contact or forgot to use the STAR method when answering a question. If you let your thoughts wander too far down this path, you’re in for a rough few days. What starts as healthy self-evaluation can easily spiral into self-doubt, which does nothing for you in the long run.
On the other hand, you may feel really good about the interview — without putting your finger on why. You’re obviously the best fit for the role, and any manager worth their salt should be able to see that. But unless you have concrete evidence that it went well, you may be in for a rude awakening when you’re not called for a second interview.
It’s impossible to know where you stand until you hear from the hiring manager. But, in the meantime, look out for these signs of a good interview.
How to know if an interview went well
It’s worth remembering that, during a job interview, you’re evaluating a company as much as they’re evaluating you. The way your interviewer conducts themselves during the hiring process says a lot about a company’s culture and how they make people feel part of the team. You’ll also want to know about company perks like paid time off and health insurance.
At the same time, your interviewer is evaluating your body language, attitude, and responses to interview questions. This aspect of the conversation is, of course, the biggest determinant of whether you will get a job.
Keeping these dynamics in mind, you’ll know a job interview went well when you 1) made a great impression and 2) feel great about the company and still want to work for them. These two components play into how you can tell if an interview went well.
If you encounter too many red flags, the interview indeed went poorly — just not for you. Here are eight good signs to look out for:
1. Your conversation used the allotted amount of time
Hiring managers are busy people. It would be easy for them to cut an interview short if they feel you’re not worth their time — all they have to say is, “I have a last-minute meeting; it was great to meet you.” And if you go over the scheduled time, it might mean your answers weren’t concise enough.
The average interview time is between 30–90 minutes. If yours lasted that long, take it as a positive sign.
2. You met other team members
Cultural fit is important, but it’s often secondary when considering a new hire. A manager might give you an office tour, introduce you to potential teammates, and tell you more about the departments you’d interact with — but they wouldn’t go through the effort if they didn’t like you.
3. They tried to sell you on the role
Another great sign is when the interviewer talks up the job and company. They may highlight perks like flexible work hours, free lunch services, or a work-from-home stipend. They’re either priming you for the next stage of the interview process or preparing to give you a job offer.
4. They asked for your preferred start date
When an interview feels right, managers may ask how soon you can start. This question serves a double purpose. On one level, leaving your current employer without the customary two weeks’ notice is a bad look. If you’re willing to job-hop now, what’s stopping you from doing the same in your new role? Your interviewer wants to know if they can trust you.
But good help is hard to find. Asking about your start date could mean they want to snatch you up before someone else does or need an applicant that can start soon.
5. Your interviewers responded positively
Positive responses to your answers are a good indication that you did well. For example, they may have bantered with you, supported your point with an anecdote of their own, or given positive affirmations after you finished an answer.
Your interviewer’s body language also speaks volumes about how you performed. Frequent smiles, lots of eye contact, and open arms are positive forms of nonverbal communication — exactly what you want as a job seeker.
6. They gave you a follow-up date
If all went well, your interviewers might have indicated a time frame for the next steps. For example, “We’ll send you a note within the next couple of days to schedule your next interview.”
This could mean they like you and want to quickly move you through the hiring process.
7. They asked about other positions
Did your recruiter ask about other job offers or whether you’re interviewing for other roles? If they see that you’re in demand, they may want to snatch you up before someone else does — a good sign you will get the job after the interview.
8. You have a good feeling
Sometimes, you have to trust your gut. After completing your first interview, meeting all the decision-makers, discussing salary expectations, and learning more about the company, you should have a good idea of where you stand. If you feel good about it, you might be right.
How to capitalize on a great interview
If you left your interview room feeling confident, congrats! But your work isn’t over yet. You have a few more steps before you reach the finish line:
Send a thank you note. Within 24–48 hours, send a follow-up email to your interviewers, thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the role. This shows you care about the position and respect their time. Then, if you haven’t heard anything after two weeks, try sending a second note. This could be the kick they need to move the process along.
Get ready for your next interview. Your next round will likely require more preparation and deeper knowledge about the role. Read more about the company, get to know the stakeholders, and brush up on your hard skills for the next step.
Add your interviewers on LinkedIn. A small ping on social media reminds your interviewers you exist and are waiting for an answer. Even if you don’t get the job, you’ll expand your network.
Signs of a bad interview
If you experienced any of the above signs in your interview, you should be in pretty good shape. But — and we hope this isn’t the case — there’s a chance things went poorly. If you experienced any of these red flags, you might have done worse than you think:
The interviewer seemed distracted. When an interviewer is interested, they’ll engage with you and listen intently. But if they couldn’t stop checking their phone or seemed bored, you may have been floundering.
They contradicted your answers at every turn. An engaged interviewer will smile, ask follow-up questions, and jot down notes. But if they’re unimpressed, they may pass their time poking holes in your statements — not a good look if you’re supposed to be an expert.
Instead of offering a job, they offered career advice. The point of an interview is to position yourself as the prime candidate for a role. But if your recruiter doesn’t believe in your ability, they may explicitly suggest you pursue other roles.
If any of these sound familiar, don’t beat yourself up. This a chance to learn so you can do better next time. Instead, do the following:
Don’t abandon the hiring process yet. It’s tempting to quit when you think you did poorly, but don’t give up yet! You may have done better than you think. Let your interviewers make the final call.
Be gracious. If things don’t go your way, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Thank your interviewers for their time, and express your continued interest in the organization. You may be a better fit for other opportunities down the road. If nothing else, you can learn from your mistakes and focus on strengthening your interview skills for the next one.
- Ask for feedback. You won’t know for sure what went wrong unless you ask. Reach out to the hiring team to ask what led to their decision to pass on you. A good employer will happily explain their reasons for not hiring you and offer advice on how you can improve. It was probably a more difficult decision than you think.
Be proud of yourself, no matter what happens
Job hunting is tiresome. After enough rejection letters, it’s easy to feel disenchanted with the whole process. But be proud of yourself for trying. Every morning, you choose to get out of bed and put your best foot forward — and that counts for something.
Be doubly proud if you have all the signs of a good interview. Even if it didn’t pan out, you left a mark on your interviewers, which could bode well for you in the future. They may be able to take you on when they have a higher budget or a role comes up that better suits your skills.
Don’t give up yet. Eventually, all of these good signs will add up to a job offer.