By November 16, 2020

How To Tell if an Interview Went Well

programming job interviewIt is not a secret that IT professionals, in general, are not necessarily known for their communication and social skills. But this is not limited to web developers, designers, coders, and the like—it is common for professionals across different industries. And often, this challenge is highlighted during a person’s job search.

Most IT professionals would ace their technical interview, but the interview with HR and other hiring officers could prove to be a puzzle. No matter how well you prepare, it is always difficult to guess what is going on in the mind of the interviewer; the final say whether you will be hired or not will come down to several factors. However, there are some encouraging signs that suggest the meeting went well and will be positive for you.

Evaluating how well a job interview went not only helps you figure out whether or not you will get the job. It can also help improve your communication as well as your interpersonal and social skills.

I’m the CEO and Founder of DevsData, a boutique software agency, and let me tell you, we’ve had our fair share of interviews with impressive candidates who wanted to join our team. However, many of them fall short in trying to impress us during the interview process. While we understand that technical skills are best showcased in front of a computer, we cannot deny the importance of soft skills.

As such, I want to share some insights on how a candidate can improve their chances of getting hired. By hearing it from the side of the interviewers and decision-makers, applicants can hopefully play on their strengths and improve their weak spots. And so, here are the seven surefire signs an interview went well.

There Was an Actual Conversation

A lot of job interviews feel more like the interviewer is just going over your résumé and going through a list of questions. There are times, however, when you just get that connection with them that the meeting turns more into a casual chat rather than a formal investigation. This instant connection often means your technical skills and experience were not the only things that clicked with the interviewer.

It is usually a good sign that they are interested in you if they ask detailed follow-up questions, such as “Why did you start learning this new coding language,” “What was the most creative solution you found for a bug problem,” “How do you stay up-to-date with the latest news in programming,” or similar questions.

This good rapport could show that not only would you fit in their company culture, but it could also show you can get along well with others if you get the job.

So if you notice that the interview is becoming less formal and more about yourself and your hobbies—bonus if they laugh at your attempts at humor—you are probably doing well, and your best move is trying to stand out.

More importantly, this is a chance for you to showcase or improve your soft skills. If you know you are not that confident in interviews, start practicing with the help of a mirror to know what things you can improve on and to build your confidence. You can also ask a friend or relative to help you out with how to respond to questions properly.

Also keep in mind that you will want your responses to sound natural and not forced; prepare some talking points, but do not memorize your answers word for word.

Moreover, do your part to make it a conversation. We know that in certain situations, keeping your answers short is the safest way to go, but in other instances (such as when an interview is turning more into a casual conversation), you can start becoming more comfortable with longer responses.

Do not just answer the questions; add some personal anecdotes, and maybe even ask the interviewer a related question. By asking a question, you keep the conversation going, you work on your communication skills, and if you are the nervous type, you buy yourself a few seconds to gather your nerves and thoughts.

It Went Longer Than Expected

Most companies will give you an idea of how long your interview will run. There are a lot of factors that can affect the length of the meeting, but as a general observation, the more time the hiring personnel spend with you, the likelier it is they are really interested in your skills and qualifications.

Moreover, where you are in the hiring process also affects how long the interview will be. Most companies will email or call you first to schedule an initial phone screening before an in-person meeting with the would-be supervisor or decision-maker.

The phone interview is often short and will usually include questions about your current work situation, previous experience, and availability for a face-to-face meeting. The initial in-person interview will be the longer meeting, about an hour.

If the face-to-face meeting went longer than expected, it is usually a positive sign, especially if the extra time was because the interviewers asked you more detailed, in-depth questions about your skills or about your professional background.

A hiring manager or a team leader who poses a lot of questions or asks you to complete some additional steps during the interview, such as taking a technical skills test, often is indicating that they are liking what they see in you.

Even if you are the best conversationalist in the world, an HR representative will not waste your time in an interview with questions or trial exams if they do not see you as suitable for the job.

You Were Asked Tough, Curveball Questions

programming job interviewMost of the time, if hiring managers are impressed with candidates in the initial stages of the interview, they will want to know more about them, information that is not written on their CV or application. In these cases, they ask tough or unexpected questions not to throw you off your game but to check your other skills.

Of course, there are the easy but unexpected requests such as “Describe yourself in three words” or “If you were not working in the IT industry, where would you be right now?” There are also the curveball questions like “Describe the sunset to a blind person,” “How do you feel about garden gnomes?” or some other question to gauge your creativity and problem-solving skills.

For their interviews with programmer analyst candidates, U.S. banking and finance giant Goldman Sachs asks interviewees “How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?” Questions like this aim to test how quick you are on your feet, that is, if you really can work under pressure, and to get an insight into your logical reasoning skills.

If you are ever placed in the hot seat and you get these questions, give it your best answer. The goal is not to have the right response but to tackle the problem and break it down so you can come up with a logical response.

The Interviewers Tell You They Like What They Hear

Positive affirmations during the interview are always a good sign that they are impressed with you, with the qualifications and skills you bring to the table.

Phrases like “great answer!” “that’s exactly what we are looking for,” or some other positive responses are always plus points to your chances of getting the job. These comments are strong indicators of their thinking that you are an excellent fit for the role.

Moreover, if the HR personnel and the decision-makers you talk to seem enthusiastic after the talks, then it is likely that you have impressed them enough. Was the person you were talking to nodding their head in agreement, taking notes of your answers, or did they seem really engaged throughout the conversation? If yes, you are likely on the right track.

The HR or Team Managers Start Selling You the Job

Every interview will most likely focus on you and the job being offered—walking you through the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of the position you have applied for. As such, not everyone will make a real effort to sell you the position.

However, if the hiring managers or the team leaders you are talking to go from making you prove your worth to them trying to prove why it’s a good job offer, highlighting the great things about the team and the company, then you likely already have more-than-OK chances of landing the job.

For most hiring managers, once they have made their decision that they like you—usually after the initial face-to-face interview—they shift gears and try to sell the company to you. They then start discussing your future opportunities with the company, telling you things like when (not if) you start out as a junior programmer or how, by making good progress on projects and improving your skills, you will be well on your way to being a senior programmer.

They also start asking about your career track and what kind of upward movement you would like—for example, whether you’d like to continue on the same track or try your hand at other aspects of software development. All these indicate a strong interest in you for the vacant position they have.

This soft sell is so that in case you are considering several options in other companies, you will choose to take their offer because of the perks and benefits of their workplace. If they did not want you to hire you, why would they waste more time in the interview trying to convince you that it is a great place to work at?

The Hiring or Team Manager Starts Introducing You to Everyone on the Team

This early introduction of the candidate to the team works for both parties: For the company, it is a chance to see how well you can get along with the other employees and how you would fit in with the current team dynamics. For the interviewee, it is a chance for a first impression of your would-be teammates and to get to know them. It is also an opportunity to build rapport with them so you can hit it off on the right foot if and when you do take the job.

During the interview process, the hiring manager may also ask candidates to talk to several team members. If they introduce you to the managers or team members who you may be working with directly, it can indicate that they are strongly considering you for the open position.

Introduce yourself to them, strike up a conversation, and maybe even ask a question or two about the office environment or how they like working there. You can also end the conversation with a subtle but optimistic farewell along the lines of “Nice to meet you. Hoping to work with you soon.” These little talks and comments help build a stronger rapport with what could well be your future colleagues.

The Hiring Manager Asks About Your Possible Transition

programming job interviewThe things that happen following an interview are often reliable indicators of your chances of getting hired, more specifically, what they ask about your possible transition from your current work to them.

Depending on your situation, some companies might ask about background or medical checks, additional training, references, and other related things. If they want to know those details, the chances are high that you have the position locked in. If they are in a rush to fill a vacant position, they might even ask about your possible start date and how many days/weeks you need to hand in your notice so they can take note of it and compare it to other applicants.

Furthermore, the questions about your possible transition may include whether you are thinking about other jobs. They usually bring this query up by asking “How is your job search going?” or “Are you considering other companies or offers at this time?”

These questions could show they are eager to get you on board or they want to check how serious you are about joining their company. It also gives them an idea about whether they have time to think about your application or whether they should hire you as soon as possible before other companies snatch you up.

There Are No Certainties, but Be Optimistic

Cautious optimism, that’s the key takeaway. Even if all of these signs are present during your interview, it will not automatically mean you will be the one they choose for a position. Your chances are high, but nothing is set in stone until you sign the job offer. Especially for an IT-related position, the competition is tough, and it could come down to a number of other non-skill-related factors.

The tech and IT industry is highly competitive. When it comes to career changes, there are hundreds of professionals vying for prestigious positions. Candidates want to stand out above the rest not only in technical skills but essential skills as well.

By knowing these telltale signs that an interview went well, hopefully, candidates can have a better understanding of the application and hiring process. More importantly, they can prepare better for their interviews by being mindful of the signs I shared with you, improving on aspects they are not confident in, and playing to their strengths.

So the next time you are scheduled for a job interview, do your homework. Read up about the company, play to your strengths, try to be as relaxed as you can, establish rapport, be quick on your feet, and ace that interview.

About the author

Tom Potanski

Tom is the CEO and Founder of DevsData LLC. DevsData builds complex software systems powered by no-BS AI, Machine Learning, and Big Data. They have changed the way people do e-commerce, trade in the financial markets, and listen to music. DevsData's clients range from midsize companies to Fortune 500 corporations.