There’s nothing quite as nerve-racking as the interview process — for both parties. The candidate wants to make a good impression, and the interviewer wants to make sure the person will be a good fit both for the team and for the position.
Usually, this is the first time everyone involved has met face to face. And other than what’s readily available by searching online, it can be challenging to know whether either party will achieve their goals.
As a hiring manager and interviewing mentor for graduating collegians, there are a few signs the interview did not go well — and a few that it did.
Signs An Interview Didn’t Go Well
The conversation didn’t flow.
An interview should feel more like a conversation and less like an interrogation. The silences should be comfortable pauses, not frigid judgments. It is ok for a candidate or interviewer to take a few moments and pause to think about the answer, but it shouldn’t feel awkward. Even in group interviews, every person involved should feel like the time went by quickly and didn’t drag.
There were no glimpses of personality.
There are no substitutes for laughter and smiles. If the conversation is going well, you should see glimpses of personalities. If the conversation is going really well, there should be lots of head nodding. If you’re lucky, and it is appropriate for the role, there should be laughter. As the candidate, you shouldn’t necessarily try to break the ice by making jokes right away. You’ll want to know the interview style and more about the personalities of the interviewers before you try to interject humor.
The answers are fake or clearly hiding something.
As a candidate, there are a few questions you should ask to gauge the interviewer's initial reaction. My favorite question is, tell me about “the most successful person you ever hired and what exactly they did to be successful?” Watch the interviewer’s body language and facial expressions, observe how long it takes the person to answer, and listen to get a sense of the company culture and how they define success.
Power moves were on display.
In a group interview, the hierarchy should become clear without one person undermining another. Typically, everyone should defer to the supervisor and there should be no signs of bickering or one-upping.
As a candidate, if you observe this in any way, consider it a giant red flag of deeper organizational issues. If during an interview when everyone should be at their best, you observe anything other than stellar comradery, it is indicative that that behavior is so ubiquitous the team doesn’t think anything of showing that to a candidate.
Signs An Interview Went Well
You talked about professional growth.
Hiring managers want to know candidates are going to not only grow the position but grow professionally. Just as the candidate wants to know what the organization thinks the next five years will look like, candidates want to know there is growth in the position.
Growth may look like supported professional development, professional association dues payment, a defined career track or something else. If the organization is already discussing how the candidate can continue to grow their skills, it means the hiring team has thought through having the person as part of the longer-term plan.
The interviewer wasn’t robotic.
To reiterate, the conversation should flow. The discussion should not be one-sided or feel interrogative. You should not feel like you are competing to get a word in edgewise and the interviewer should ask follow-up questions.
Ultimately, candidates should walk away thinking they want to work with the team or the company. Hiring managers should want to talk to the candidate again, if not already want the person on their team.
Much of determining if the interview was successful and ultimately, if the position is a good fit for both sides, is gut feeling. Your intuition and observations mean as much as the questions and answers.
Remember, your skills and your resume get you the interview. Your interpersonal relationships and fit get you the job. The goal is to make sure you are a good fit for the organization and will integrate well into a team.
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.