Just like with the usual face-to-face interviews, there is no sure way of knowing whether a phone interview went well or not.
Still, it’s not impossible to assess your performance during the interview. There are some indicators that you can keep a lookout for to figure out whether the interview went well or went poorly.
Here’s how to tell if your phone interview went well, as discussed by experts.
Career Coach | Job Search Expert | Educator |
Author, Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success
The interviewer tells you about the next step in the hiring process
This is a definite sign you impressed them enough to make it through the initial screening. And are now being moved on to the next phase, which is typically a face-to-face interview.
Or in the case of their being out of the area, it could be a live video interview via something like Skype. And with the coronavirus pandemic, remote interviews are being used in lieu of face-to-face ones to provide for better social distancing and office closures.
It’s also possible you might have a second phone interview scheduled. One that will be lengthier and more in-depth than the first.
If they weren’t interested, then there’s no reason for them to explain the next step unless you happened to bring it up. But when they raise it, that’s great! And if they actually want to set up the interview right then and there, even better.
The interviewer sounds pleased with the conversation
The interviewer’s voice sounds as though he or she is really liking or happy with what they’re hearing. So if the interviewer sounds excited, happy, or their voice changes to this along the way, those are good signs you’re winning over the interviewer.
You’re being told something like “that’s great” or “it’s what we’re looking for”
This is letting you know that you’re matching what they want and/or impressing them in a positive way. So when they’re either outright telling you or dropping hints that you have or are showing what they’re looking for, that’s a good sign you’re doing well.
The interview goes or went from more distant or colder to warmer and more friendly
This is another sign you’re doing well. And reflecting the interviewer’s becoming more comfortable listening to you. So he or she feels more open and relaxed because of your being more personable and professional.
You are asked to submit references
This can be a work sample or other documentation. If they were not interested in you, then there would be no reason to ask for these things. But when they’re impressed and want to move you on to the next step, it would be the kind of things they might want or require.
The interviewer tells you that you’re hired
Depending upon what kind of a job and/or company to which you’re interviewing, it is possible a phone interview is really all they needed. So they could have already decided on you based on your cover letter and/or resume.
And the phone interview was just to see how you come across in person and whether you appear to be who you seem to be on paper. So there might not be any further need for another interview or round of interviews. Thus, we do have some people who are hired on the spot just from a phone interview.
Your interview went longer than scheduled or anticipated
Let’s say your interview was scheduled for 10-15 minutes but it ended up going for say 25 or more minutes. Assuming it wasn’t because of poor connections, weather issues, or other distractions or issues on either end, this can be a positive sign you’ve impressed then and did well.
Had they not been so interested or inquisitive, then your interview would have taken less time. So when your phone interview goes longer than expected because they’re asking additional questions, delving more deeply into something, etc, these can be good signs you’re heading into the next round.
Founder & Executive Director, Professionals In Transition ®
Traditionally, the initial phone interview for a job search candidate is elimination. Their goal is to “knock you and as many people out as possible; (because they don’t qualify).
If you have sent a cover letter matching the job requirements with your abilities, be prepared to talk about it. Your only job for an initial interview is to get a second one. Your goal is to “be the answer” to the employer’s needs.
If you have allowed the interviewer to “lead you,” throughout the process instead of you trying to constantly try to sell yourself throughout the interview, you should begin to hear positive cue’s.
Be alert for the changes in the tone of the recruiter’s voice
Don’t be afraid to address this issue. It’s “ok” to ask clarifying questions like: “I may be wrong but is there something you need me to explain?”
An increase or decrease in enthusiasm
Give the recruiter a chance to think. Wait for them to speak and respond accordingly. Then say something like: “Would you like me to talk more about it?”
Listen for phrases involving the workplace like “When you work here you…” or “I’ve been here for x years, and the thing I like the most about working here is..” Lastly, to further increase the chances of your success, send a thank you note via email and snail-mail.
Kevin Palisi, MBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR
Founder and Managing Director, Ancora Search
The purpose of a phone interview is for a hiring manager or human resources/recruiter to determine if the candidate has the material qualifications for the position and has the potential to fit the company’s culture to warrant moving them forward in the process – usually a more time-intensive in-person interview(s).
No negative concerns about the fit for the role
The best way for a candidate to tell how your phone interview went is to ask if the interviewer has any concerns about their fit for the role and what are the next steps in the process.
If the interviewer has no concerns or gives details on the next step in the process that is a good sign the phone interview went well and the candidate will likely be moving forward in the interview process.
Career Coach | Owner, The Career Force
There are three key signs that your phone interview went well. When any of these happen, it usually means you are going to have a follow-up interview (or a job offer if it’s to that point).
You are asked what your availability is for a follow-up interview
In general, the more specific that the interviewer is about following up or contacting you in the future, the more likely they are still considering you for the position.
The recruiter gives good responses
The second sign your phone interview went well is you were able to answer all the questions and went into depth on some areas with a good response from the interviewer.
The interview lasted longer than expected
The third – albeit subtle – indicator of a great phone interview is when it runs longer than planned. The interviewer wants to know more about you – which means they think you could be a good fit.
Director, Successful Release
The interview goes over the scheduled time
Most hiring managers are quick to cut a bad interview short. They have a lot of people to talk to and don’t want to waste any time.
When they are willing to spend more time than planned with you it’s typically because they like what they’re hearing and want to know more about you.
It feels more like a conversation than an interview
Bad interviews can feel like an interrogation while good interviews are more like a conversation between friends. You flow from topic to topic, you might have a few laughs, and overall you both enjoy your time on the phone.
Managers hire people that they like and will enjoy working with. If you can have an enjoyable conversation over the phone it’s a great sign that the two of you will have an enjoyable working relationship as well.
The recruiter asked when you can start
Hiring can be a painful process on both sides so managers often move fast when they find a candidate they like.
If they’re asking you when you can start they are taking you seriously as a candidate. When they ask this it usually means they’re at least thinking about bringing you on and want to make sure your timeline works with theirs.
The recruiter tells you it went well
This might be a little obvious but many hiring managers are not shy about giving feedback during an interview. This is especially true with the candidates they really like.
Managers are always worried that their favorite candidates will accept positions elsewhere before they can make a final decision. To overcome this, many aren’t afraid to give very strong signals that they are going to be following up with an offer like this.
Vice-President, People | Co-Founder, Zety
The recruiter gave you heads up on what to expect
If the recruiters are interested in you, they’ll inform you of the next steps of the process. So, if your phone interview went well, at the end of it, you should know what to expect next, i.e. you will receive an invitation to a face-to-face interview or will be asked to perform an assessment test or a technical task.
The recruiter took the time to get to know you
If you were booked for a half an hour-long interview and by the end of it, you feel the recruiters wouldn’t mind having more time to chat with you – that’s a good sign. If the interview is cut short, it most likely means the recruiters are not particularly interested.
HR Manager, ResumeLab
Because of the cost of recruitment, hiring, and onboarding reaches into the thousands, most employers use phone interviews to pre-screen applicants.
It’s a robust way for employers to rip through candidates that passed the ATS hurdle and get an initial idea of whether or not they could make a good hire for the company.
Each and every employer has a different set of phone interview questions, but generally, they’re all designed to unearth high-level information about candidates to see if they should move to the next step in the hiring process or to the next applicant.
Common questions include, tell me about yourself, why did you apply for this position, what are your current job responsibilities, etc.
Clear-cut next step of the hiring process is given
How can you tell if you’ve aced the phone interview? In essence, employers are looking for proof you have what it takes to get the job done. And if you’ve managed to spotlight your value proposition to the recruiter conducting an initial phone screen, the interviewer will definitely talk about clear-cut next steps and what you should do moving forward.
This could include scheduling an in-person interview with you or giving you details about a test assignment you need to complete.
So—keep an “ear” out for mentions of definite next steps because they are likely to determine if you’ll land that first in-person interview or get passed over.
Career Consultant | Owner, Jeff Magnuson Consulting
The conversation flows smoothly
If you’re answering their questions completely where they’re not left repeating themselves and they answer your questions fully, that’s a great sign.
If there is laughter and you get off-topic a bit, that’s another good sign as that likely means the interviewer was very comfortable speaking with you.
A follow-up has been mentioned
Finally, if they say that they will pass along your information and/or they want to bring you in and then follow up very quickly, that’s how you 100% know the phone interview went well.
But, let’s be clear. All of the above could have happened and yet, you find out that you’re not moving ahead in the process. Does that mean that the phone interview didn’t go well? Not necessarily.
Perhaps they simply found better candidates (as companies can only bring in so many to interview in person). Maybe the position is frozen (very common during this pandemic) and maybe the company is slow or people are not available to interview right away. The point is that there are so many factors that go into interviewing that are out of a candidate’s control.
Candidates need to be honest and confident with their own assessment of how a phone call went and if they are not sure, they should reach out for some coaching as phone interview is a critical skill, especially in our world today.
Related: 25 Great Phone Interview Tips
Candidates should try to get a direct response on the spot
Before the call ends, a candidate should ask if the interviewer had any concerns about their background in relation to the opportunity and if they feel the candidate will be a good fit. If they ask that question, 9 times out of 10, interviewers will be honest.
Your Personal Career Coach
The questions asked were related to your previous answers
If the interviewer asks you follow-up questions specific to your answer, then they are listening and engaged in your conversation. It’s not always a bad sign, but not necessarily a good sign if the questions you are being asked sound like they are from a list of pre-planned questions.
If the phone interview extends past the allotted time, that’s a good sign it went well. If the questions at the interview are related to next steps, your availability for the next contact, discussion of dates for you to meet, or names of people you may next speak with, those are all “buying signs” and, typically, a good indication the phone interview went well.
It felt like a conversation more so than an interview
If the flow of the interview was stilted while you were waiting for the next question then it likely means the interview didn’t go great. Interviewers use questions as a way to start a conversation. Then, as you give an answer to that question they will continue to ask questions based on what you were saying if things are going well.
Conversely, if there are a lot of abrupt changes in the topic regarding the questions you’re being asked then it means the interviewer is just going down their checklist because the interview isn’t flowing.
So if you have a phone interview try to make it as conversational as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask questions along the way or really elaborate on certain points that pique your interviewer’s interest.
Senior Career Advisor, MintResume
In my experience, here are some typical signs that your interview went well:
- You were asked for your thoughts or potential actions on a real-world issue the company is facing, not hypothetical.
- The interviewer paused the interview to bring one or more members of the team to join the discussion.
- You were asked about any planned vacations.
- The interview ran over the scheduled time. If there was no scheduled window then anything over 45 minutes is usually a great sign.
- You were asked if you could follow up after the interview by sending relevant paperwork (for example copies of qualifications, ID, etc.)
- You were asked about references.
HR Professional, Choosing Therapy
Ask the interviewer how you did, right then, at the end of the call
The interviewer will often pose a final question such as, “do you have anything else to add or any questions?” That’s the time to ask about the go-forward process as well as to get feedback on how you did.
You could say something like, “Yes, I’d like to know what the next step is in the interviewing process, and also, if you’d be so kind, I’d love to get your feedback on how I did?”
You’ll likely get one of two responses. In many cases, you’ll get a standard response such as “we’ll let you know by the end of the week if you’re going to move on to the next phase”. Translated, that means … “there’s nothing really special about you that stands out above the others.”
However, if you get a response like, “I think you did great and am recommending that you move to the next stage in the interview process,” then you know you’ve passed the screen.
Patti Wood, MA
Body Language Expert, Snap First Impressions | Author
- The interviewer has gone deep on particular questions when you are giving a positive answer. If they are looking for more information about something you have done well it indicates they are seeing you as a positive candidate.
- Spontaneity in their questions and responses during the interview indicates they are going off-script to be present with you as an individual rather than doing a rote interview.
- They laugh! Interviewers who laugh show not only that they think they have had fun with you at the moment, and that they may find you funny, but they are comfortable enough with you to be personable and step out of the “interviewer” roll.
- Giving you more time. If they are thinking seriously as a candidate they will give you more time to answer questions, won’t interrupt, or cut you off or speed through the process. One of the best indicators is if they slow down and or linger at the formal close of the interview.
Ample time is given to sell the company to you
While the bodily language is removed, there are still a lot of clues available. If an interviewer likes you they will spend a lot of time talking up the company’s good points, and will essentially be pitching the company to you, just as hard as you are pitching yourself to them.
You will also notice if they are mentioning their benefits and why working for them is a good step for you. The most obvious clue is whether they bother to tell you what the company stands for, and what they are trying to promote In the workplace.
If they are explaining company policy and community ethos then it’s likely they are picturing you in the role, and are preparing you for it.
If they don’t see you as a likely candidate, generally they won’t bother going through the full explanation. This is also why an interview that goes badly usually takes up a lot less time than one that is going well.
Publisher, Faded Banner Publications
A good telephone interview is dependent on both people, or all people if there is more than one interviewer.
Intelligent questions are asked throughout the interview
From the viewpoint of an author being interviewed, I consider an interview to have gone well if the interviewer was engaged and asked intelligent questions on my topic.
Did the interviewer respond well to your answers and ask intelligent follow-up questions? Did you feel that the interviewer found you and your topic to be interesting? Did you understand the questions posed to you, and were you able to give clear, explanatory answers? If so, I think it is safe to conclude the interview went well.
Founder, Search Pros
Having a phone interview may sometimes be nerve-wracking since you don’t get to see the facial expressions of the interviewer nor their body language. These are very important to determine if you are on the right track during the interview.
However, during phone interviews, you only have the voice of the interviewer and the questions he/she asks you. So how does one determine if their interview went well?
- The interviewer seems engaged and interested in you. You’ll be able to determine this by the questions and responses they have towards you. And if they’re interested, the interview is most likely going to last a long time.
- The interviewer tried to appeal to you with the benefits if you work for them. This means that they are somewhat considering you for the position and want you to be aware of the perks of working for them.
- Lastly, if there’s a friendly connection between you and the interviewer, then it’s a good sign and you might even end your conversation with the indication that you will hear from them again.
Founder and CEO, GetVoIP
An interviewee can tell if they nailed a phone interview if they observe these two things:
- If the interview lasted between twenty to sixty minutes. Anything less than fifteen minutes is an indication the interviewer wasn’t interested in more because they had already made up their mind about you.
- If you have had a follow-up communication. Follow-up communication, such as, here is a link that will allow you to arrange a convenient time to see us or send me an email so I can let you know when you will meet the manager are good signs the phone interview went well.
Founder and CEO, Byblos Coffee
There’s no assurance that you have the job until the offer has been made
There are lots of signs, though, that you will notice if the interview was good. For one, the call feels relaxed. It’s as if you were talking with a friend. The interviewer tells you what’s good about the company. He goes out of his way to let you know what the company offers that others don’t.
The interviewer was very interested to know you. There were a lot of questions, and he was very engaged with all your answers. Also, subtle remarks were thrown all over the place. Lastly, you feel good as soon as the interview is over.
The bottom line here is that interviewers are hard to read. How people conduct interviews and how they come across is mostly a reflection of who they are, not how you perform during the interview.
All these signs could have happened, and yet it still doesn’t guarantee anything.
My recommendation is, don’t waste your time speculating. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Continue to apply for jobs and celebrate once you have the offer.