Phone interviews have all the stresses of in-person interviews: remembering your answers, keeping your decorum, dressing professionally (to help get you in the right frame of mind!). What’s more, they have an added difficulty: zero body language to go off of. It’s hard to connect with someone when you can’t see his or her face, because the nonverbal cues that tell you how everything is going aren’t there.
Still, it’s not impossible to gauge your performance during a phone interview! There are clear signs you can keep a lookout for to figure out if the interview is going well. We talked to collegiettes and interview experts to bring you these seven signs that you rocked your phone interview.
1. The call feels relaxed
Interviews can be super formal and uncomfortable and are generally stressful events overall. If the tension starts to ease up during your call, that’s a positive sign as to how you’re doing!
Expert interview coach Barry Drexler says that if the interviewer expresses signs of relaxation, such as laughing, or there appears to be general excitement in his or her voice, these are good indications that you're doing well. If the interviewer starts to refer to you by your name instead of using an impersonal phrase like “the successful candidate,” this is a good sign that he or she likes you and enjoys talking to you.
2. The interviewer starts asking more questions about you
The interviewer has to ask certain questions to make sure you’re qualified for the position. “They are going to ask about background, experience and education,” says Paul Bailo, CEO and founder of Phone Interview Pro. Hearing about the details of your major and the kinds of projects you worked on at your summer internship will help the interviewer determine if you meet the minimum requirements for the position.
However, if you turn out to be exactly what the interviewer is looking for (and more!), then he or she will likely want to know as much about you as possible.
Jullien Gordon, author of The Inner View: Everything You Need To Know & Do Before Your Job Interview, says the interviewer will ask deeper questions about you if he or she is curious about you, and that this is a sign that things are going well. For example, the interviewer may want to know more about your specific contributions to an internship or ask you to explain what other activities you take on when school isn’t in session.
Bailo says that this is because the interviewer is “trying to put the book about you together. They are looking for these open-ended questions to enhance what they believe to be true.” If the interviewer likes you, he or she is going to ask lots of questions to prove what he or she already knows: that you’re a likely candidate.
3. The call goes on longer than scheduled
The first few minutes of an interview can be painfully slow. Already anxious, you keep an eye on the clock, wondering just how long it’s been and how much longer you have to push through. But somewhere down the line, as you’ve relaxed into the call, you stop checking the time and just have a conversation. When you finally do glance back at the clock, it’s 20 minutes after your scheduled end time! Where did the time go?
If your interview goes over this scheduled time, that’s a good sign that the interviewer is interested in you. Miranda Soukup, a senior at Winona State University, recently had a preliminary call that unexpectedly turned into an interview. “I thought it was just a call that would ask me a little about myself and expected to be invited for an interview, but it turned into a phone interview in itself,” she says.
Interviewers may use preliminary calls as tests to screen candidates because they get so many applications for one job. If a candidate does not match the interviewer’s qualifications, the interviewer is likely to end the call on time (or even early). However, if the interviewer is interested in you, the call may go on longer than planned because he or she is excited to consider you as a viable candidate. In Miranda’s case, her “screening” call turned into an actual interview. Likewise, if the interviewer continues to ask questions for significantly longer than you expected—we’re talking 20, 30 or even 45 minutes—take it as a great sign!
4. The conversation goes slightly off topic
If you’re finding that you and the interviewer are talking about your favorite sports teams or discussing the best ways to wear Pantone’s color of the year, consider this a good thing!
“Once, the interviewer and I found the conversation occasionally going off on a tangent about something related because we had a lot in common,” says Lauren Velez, a junior at the University of Texas at Austin.
Having this kind of connection with the interviewer shows that you are personable and would be a lively addition to the team. Bailo explains that the reasons an interviewer might go off topic are twofold. “One is to get you to reveal yourself to see if they really want to hire you,” he says, “and the other piece is to really understand where you want to go.”
People hire people they want to work with who would be a good fit in the company. If you and the interviewer can establish a personal connection, you’ve shown him or her both of these things, which could definitely pique his or her interest.
5. The interviewer tries to sell you on the company
Hiring managers know that this company isn’t the only one you’re applying to.
Drexler says that if the interviewer asks about your offers at other companies or goes out of his or her way to sell the company’s best features, these are clear indications of interest.
“If they really like you, they will try and convince you of how great the company and the job is because they wouldn’t want to lose you to another company,” he explains. “Great candidates get picked up quickly, and they know this.”
Watch out for mentions of the job’s advantages, any benefits the company offers (like paid vacation), how the work environment is unique or any other attempts to woo you.
If an interviewer is interested in you, he or she is going to do everything in his or her power to keep your favor. “They’re selling the company as much as you’re selling yourself,” Drexler says. The interviewer wants you to choose this company just as much as you want the company to choose you.
6. The interviewer talks about clear next steps
It’s nearing the end of the interview, and it’s about time to wrap things up. After thanking the interviewer for his or her time, you ask about next steps. What should you expect going forward?
If your interviewer responds to this question with definite next steps, then he or she is considering giving you the job.
“They have had a whole hour to be thinking about you, so they have already established, ‘I like what I’m hearing, I can’t wait to bring you in,’” Bailo says. “If they say they’re going to call up human resources to have them schedule another meeting, or they want you to meet so-and-so next week, that’s great.”
An interviewer giving you clear next steps may already be picturing you working at his or her company—especially if the interviewer wants you to come in and meet the team! Look out for mentions of definite next steps, because they’re indications you’re doing well.
7. You have a good feeling about it
If you hang up the phone and you feel pretty awesome, then you probably nailed it. In fact, you might not even have to hang up before you get an idea that things are going pretty great!
When thinking about how well you did, listening to your gut is always a good sign. Hold off on asking the interviewer how you did; you don’t want to come off as insecure in your abilities.
“You don’t need to ask if you performed well on the phone interview,” Drexler says. “You know that you performed well.”
In the absence of body language, we have to listen for other clues to help us gauge our performance during a phone interview. Luckily, if you know what to look for, it’s not hard to figure out how everything’s going. Watch out for these positive signs to see how good your chances are!