• Interview
  • Recruitment

How can you tell if the interview went well?

An interview cannot go really bad.  It is very rare that the hiring manager openly shows irritation or impatience. In 95% of the interviews, people are polite, smiling, and professional.  Some hiring managers naturally keep their distance even if they have been impressed. Others tend to exaggerate their friendliness to put the candidate at ease, even when the candidate underperforms.

However, some signs should allow the candidates to expect a positive outcome. We have gathered a couple of examples below. But we’d love to read from your own experiences, feel free to comment on our Bellevue Executive Search page.

Positive signs:

1/ very concrete questions about the recruitment process.  The hiring manager is already anticipating the next steps. For example:

• When could you potentially start?

• Could you negotiate your notice period with your current employer?

• Do you have holidays you could use to reduce your notice period?

• When would you be available for a second round?

2/ the hiring manager switches from conditional to future tense:

• When you do the business case during the next round, we can….

• When you get to meet the HR Director, she/he might ask you to bring documents…

• When you test our system, you will find out there is…

• You will see it by yourself, the budget season here is…

Not a good sign: 

1/ All the questions highlighting that you are one candidate among others: 

• “We are going to meet other applicants this week and next week, you will receive feedback in 10-15 days” (usually, any feedback announced for “more than a week” is not a great sign);

• “The recruiting agency will get back to you for feedback” ( in other words, the relationship keeps running through the headhunter, not a sign of closeness with the company.)

• “We will evaluate the many applications and come back to you once this analysis is completed”

• “We will consider internal as well as external candidates”

2/ The hiring team is strangely becoming vague about their projects and the definition of the role:

  • “We are still considering the exact definition of the profile; it may be that we finally decide on a more junior profile/ more experienced profile”. 
  • “The team is about to be re-organized; it could be that this changes the definition of the profile we hire. We still consider all options at this stage”.
  • “We can tell you more about this in the next talk”.
  • “This information is still too confidential to share during an interview”. 

3/ Suddenly standard interview questions are asked:

  • “What are your 3 main strengths and weaknesses”
  • “How would your current boss describe your working style”
  • “If you were a color / an animal/ a planet?”

These questions usually come up when the interview takes a boring turn or when the hiring manager is not convinced: she or he is now striking from a different angle to confirm or dismiss some doubts.

 Good or bad, depending on the timing! 

  • “Is there someone we could call for a reference?
  • Can you send us some reference letters/ work certificates?”

This is particularly good if the question is asked by HR at the very last stage of the process. It means they are preparing the offer and making the very last checks.  

This is not good if the line manager asks you this at the beginning of the process.  It is a sign the hiring team is having question marks about your profile. Probably the interview was not clear enough to remove their doubts. Now can be the last chance to ask which topic they would like to clarify and provide them with more examples. 

How long should the interview last? 

Everything is possible of course, yet we observe that a positive interview lasts 1hour and 10 minutes. 😉

More than 1,5 hours? You probably talked too much!

50 minutes? Probably the hiring manager was polite.

The longest interview we saw lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes for a first-round: the line manager was desperately trying to close the meeting and the candidate never understood the non-verbal signs. He kept talking and talking.

The shortest interview: 5 minutes. The hiring manager did not like how the candidate looked, something about “too much perfume and a bad haircut”. 

So, actually yes : an interview can go really bad. 😉 but this is rare, and would you want to work with such a person? 

Share your own experiences on our Swiss Finance Recruitment page and thank you for following us!