I’m not sure what’s worse – the actual job interview or waiting to hear back after the interview.
While there are few guarantees in the hiring game, if you pay attention during the process, there are usually signs that indicate how you are faring. When the interviewer does these things, your chances are looking good:
- Asking about availability. “When can you come back to meet the team?” or “How much notice do you need to give your current employer?” are possibly the clearest signs things are moving in your favor.
- Extending beyond the time scheduled (e.g., a 45-minute interview lasting over an hour). Hirers are busy and aren’t going to spend more time than they feel they need accessing a candidate.
- Straying from the standard questions. Objective interviewers will have a set of questions they ask each candidate. If you’re having an engaging discussion, you’ll often be asked “off-script” questions and follow-ups since the interviewer sees potential and wants to gather as much data as possible.
- Sharing “insider” information. These minor slips can be about the role, the hiring process, or the department, however, if the interviewer starts to perceive you as a member of the team, he or she may disclose a few extra details.
- Finding commonalities during the conversation (e.g., you attended the same high school or both speak Italian). Once you’re invited to interview, you’ve passed the basic qualifications test and are being assessed for fit (e.g., will you mesh with team?). Having shared interests creates an instant sense of “belonging” and likability, which can positively skew the interview outcome.
- Offering a tour or introduction to colleagues not on the agenda. If an interviewer is impressed enough to take extra time showing you around or having you shake hands with a few of your possible “teammates-to-be”, it’s a really good sign.
- Giving positive feedback. This may seem obvious, however, trained hirers typically skip affirmations such as “good answer” to avoid biasing the interview. But, watch their facial expressions for subtle feedback. Raised eyebrows combined with a nod can indicate you’ve said something smart or fascinating they haven’t heard before, which makes you stand out.
People communicate in several ways including words, tone and body language. When focused on our own performance in an interview, we miss much of what’s communicated around us because our anxiety overrides our ability to tune into these subtle signals. Distractions in the form of cell phones and other technology have only made our perception worse.
However, research shows you can make great gains in your ability to percept. Practice being more observant during less stressful situations (e.g., staff meetings) to sharpen your skills and be mindful of how easily your attention is pulled away by distractions. Once you begin to consciously focus, you may be surprised at how much you were missing!