After any job interview, whether for your long-term dream job or a two-week freelance project, the first question you’re sure to ask yourself is, “Did I get the gig?” Waiting to hear back from a potential employer or client while they make a formal decision can be tough. The waiting game can be even more nerve-wracking if you’re an independent professional who is constantly bidding on and interviewing for numerous freelance projects. Planning an optimum work schedule is difficult when you aren’t certain if specific project bids will be accepted.
Here’s the good news: You can get a sense of whether you got a job right after the interview—or even while you’re still engaged in the interview process. The discussion’s conclusion, in particular, can provide clues as to the other party’s interest in working with you.
While you shouldn’t get your hopes up or jump to conclusions, recognizing these signs can help alleviate anxiety. We provide a quick primer on what to look for.
- The conversation turns casual
- The interview runs long
- The interviewer shows positive nonverbal actions
- They introduce you to other team members
- They indicate they’re impressed
- They ask about your availability
- The interviewer discusses perks
- They ask follow-up questions to your answers
- They ask about your interest in the company
- They discuss pay or salary expectations
- It becomes a discussion of “when” instead of “if”
- They try to sell you the company
- There’s a direct discussion about transition steps
- They contact your references
- They send a quick response to your thank-you email
- “Top contender” is mentioned
The conversation turns casual
Interviews aren’t just about assessing your hard skills. They are also used to ensure you’re a good fit for the company culturally. If the interviewer opens up a casual conversation (e.g., asking about hobbies), you may have already passed the qualifications check, and they’re now trying to determine how well you’ll mesh with the team.
The interview runs long
If an interviewer decides you aren’t a good fit for a role or company, they’ll end the interview in a timely fashion, possibly even cutting it short. Of course, they won’t kick you out the door—but they also won’t dig deep with more interview questions seeking additional information.
An interview that goes longer is generally a good indication of a high level of interest. If the talk is running long, you may want to interject, noting that you have the time to continue talking but that you also want to be respectful of their time.
The interviewer shows positive nonverbal actions
Body language can often indicate how a person is receiving you. If a person is receptive, they will look attentive, nod in agreement when you’re talking, and smile. On the other hand, bored body language, like failing to make eye contact, can mean a lack of interest and may be a bad sign.
Reading nonverbal cues is harder in some formats, like phone interviews. In this case, check for active listening signs from the interviewer’s side, like reiterating your points and asking follow-up questions related to what you’ve said. You may have to tailor your own interview style accordingly: Preparing for a phone interview is different from preparing for an in-person interview.
They introduce you to other team members
Again, interviews are just as much about ensuring a cultural fit as they are about confirming your skills. Interviewers will usually take only top prospects on an in-person or virtual office tour and introduce them to other potential team members. This is also a chance for you to get a feel for the people and workplace to see if you’d fit.
Take the opportunity to ask questions and demonstrate interest in the company. This can also help your odds of getting the job. The New York Times reports that companies want to hire people who are genuinely engaged in what they’re doing.
They indicate they’re impressed
Interviewers may provide some direct verbal indications that they’re excited about your profile. Listen for phrases like “You have quite an impactful…” or “I found your experience in…quite intriguing.”
These terms indicate genuine interest, especially if they’re accompanied with follow-up questions seeking more information.
They ask about your availability
If you get to the point that the interviewer is asking about your availability and a possible start date, they’re likely considering you a top prospect. There’s no point in asking someone when they’ll be free to take on a gig if they’re wrong for the role.
Fireflies.ai reveals that interviewers usually only consider availability if they’ve already decided someone is right for the job. Be enthusiastic but realistic and honest about when you can start.
The interviewer discusses perks
Interviewers aren’t just there to assess you. They also went to sell you on the company, especially if they’re interested in getting you on board.
Pay attention if the interviewer starts mentioning benefits and perks, like freebies or bonuses. This could mean you’re in the final running!
They ask follow-up questions to your answers
Interviewers come prepared with a list of questions for any discussion. If they aren’t particularly interested in your replies, they’ll simply move down their list of queries and check them off one by one.
If they’re interested in your responses, they may steer away from this formulaic approach to dig deeper and get more information using follow-up questions.
They ask about your interest in the company
When recruiters think they’ve found the right person, they want to assess the likelihood of getting them on board. They may ask why you’re interested in the company to see how strongly you identify with the business’s vision, work, and values.
This is another good sign, suggesting an eagerness to work together. Your interest in the company is a significant consideration for interviewers, who may even factor in your level of enthusiasm in standard hiring matrices like this one from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
They discuss pay or salary expectations
A recruiter likely won’t bother discussing pay or salary expectations with someone they aren’t interested in bringing on board or working with. If you get to the point where they’re talking numbers, it’s a strong indication that you’re a top pick.
We offer some tips for pay negotiations below.
It becomes a discussion of “when” instead of “if”
Slight shifts in language can indicate a hiring manager’s eagerness to bring you into the fold. They might start saying things like “When you start” instead of “If you join us,” for example.
While it may be subconscious on their part, this is often a positive confirmation of their desire to see you join the team.
They try to sell you the company
Recruiters are tasked with finding the best person for the job. Once they find the right fit, they’ll do all they can to secure them.
You might find that you get a sort of sales pitch about the company if they’re interested in you. They might highlight certain benefits, for example, or the great company culture.
There’s a direct discussion about transition steps
Hiring managers are forward-thinking. If they see you as a good fit for the team, they may start thinking—and talking—about transitioning into the role. This telltale sign could involve covering points like who will do your training and what kind of onboarding processes you can expect.
They contact your references
The hiring process takes time and effort. A hiring manager isn’t going to waste valuable hours calling or emailing your references unless you’re a serious contender.
This is one of the last steps in the hiring process and, according to Workable, is standard procedure for hiring managers who are thinking of making an offer. If they ask for referrals and then reach out to them, it’s a great sign that you’re in the final running for the role.
They send a quick response to your follow-up email
As you probably already know, it’s good form to send a quick thank-you email after you’ve had a job interview. If you get a reply, this probably means your interview went well. The interviewer is trying to maintain rapport and keep communication open.
Hopefully, your next email will be a job offer!
“Top contender” is mentioned
Some hiring managers will come right out and let you know if you’re a top contender or final prospect. You can get a feel for this by asking how many people are still in consideration for the role at the end of the interview.
How long after an interview is a job offer made?
Although the above indications can be promising and show you’re a strong contender for the role you’re interviewing for, they aren’t conclusive. Don’t start celebrating until you get the formal offer. When can you expect that to happen?
According to data aggregated by Glassdoor, the average job interview time ranged from 16.1 to 39.6 days in select countries across the world. In the United States, the average is 23.8 days.
That said, every company has its own timelines and processes when it comes to hiring. When you hear back can depend on factors like job competitiveness and in-house HR policies. The type of job you’re hiring for also makes a difference. For instance, seasonal jobs tend to have a shorter hiring time frame since they’re only temporary and may require last-minute staffing due to time constraints.
The SHRM provides additional insights on hiring process timelines. For example, the average time required to screen applicants is 7 days, while the average time needed to conduct interviews is 8 days. The average time needed to make a final decision is 5 days.
It’s OK to ask the interviewer when you can expect their decision. You may also want to reach out to the interviewer for an update a week or so after your thank-you email.
How do you negotiate pay?
Got the job? Congratulations! Before you eagerly accept, make sure you’re getting the pay you deserve. Most hiring managers will provide pay information when they send the hiring contract.
This isn’t the final word! You can typically negotiate your pay and benefits if you aren’t happy with their offer. According to one survey, more than half of employers (53%) are willing to negotiate salaries. Consider these tips for negotiating your salary, rate, or benefits.
- Understand industry trends. Research average pay for the role online. Job search engines often provide average pay brackets. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also has pay info.
- Know your worth. If you ask for more money than what the employer or client is offering, you have to make a case for it. Highlight the additional credentials, experience, or in-demand skills that you feel warrant an above-average pay rate.
- Be honest and straightforward. Don’t be shy about stating your pay requirements. Practicing your delivery regarding your expectations can build confidence and make discussing money matters feel less awkward.
Finally, when negotiating payment terms and rates, make sure to get everything in writing. For example, if you agree on a set rate in a phone call, confirm it in an email before you sign on the dotted line. If you accept the job, provide written confirmation and reiterate the terms and conditions (pay and otherwise) that you’ve agreed to.
Know when a hiring manager is interested in you as a potential worker
Recognizing positive signs that a hiring manager is interested in you as a prospect is just half the battle when it comes to getting the job. From nonverbal cues like eye contact to asking about your availability, the above list covers many of the signs that indicate a potential job offer is on the horizon.
These indicators suggest that an interviewer is interested in you on both a personal and professional level, and that your skills, experience, and personality are a good fit for the hiring organization.
If you’re a freelancer who frequently works on multiple various short- and long-term projects, you may do interviews on a regular basis. While interviews can be nerve-wracking, they’re also a great way to build your communication skills. Plus, the more of them you do, the better you’ll get!
For more job and interview opportunities for freelancers, check out Upwork. You can connect with brands and businesses all over the world looking for specialists in design, marketing, finance, legal, and more. Find your next gig on Upwork today.
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