Decoding the Job Interview

May 16, 2019

By Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD

You think the interview is going well, but what’s the hiring interviewer really thinking? Business communication expert Carol Kinsey Goman offers 10 cues to determine whether or not you’ll get the job.

As the candidate in a job interview, you’re aware that you’re being assessed for competence, confidence, and candor. But what about the interviewer? Is he or she being totally upfront with you? The following is an irreverent guide to what your inquisitor is really thinking.

Here are 10 cues that will tell you what the interviewer really thinks:

  1.  If the interviewer says he “could go on talking with you all day,” but his feet are pointing toward the door, he’s through with you and wishes he were somewhere else.
  2. If the interviewer begins to mimic your gestures, she feels you are a kindred spirit. You’re likely to get her stamp of approval.
  3. If the interviewer shrugs one shoulder as he tells you about the company’s terrific work environment, it’s probably not that great.
  4. If the interviewer tells you she’s not sure you’re right for the job, but keeps glancing at your résumé, she’s still interested.
  5. If you ask when you'll hear back from the company about the position and he replies, “Um, uh, er…soon,” you'll never hear from him again.
  6. If the interviewer tilts his head as you’re speaking, he wants to hear more.
  7. If the interviewer shakes your hand with her hand over yours (instead of sideways to yours), she believes that she (literally) has the upper hand.
  8. If the interviewer tells you that “this position has potential for rapid advancement,” but his blink rate increases dramatically, he's really telling you that you'll spend the rest of eternity in the job.
  9. If the interviewer’s entire body—head, shoulders, hips and legs—is oriented toward you, she is totally engrossed in what you’re saying.
  10. If the interviewer stands up and starts to simulate golf swings (it’s happened!)—it doesn't matter what he says: you’ll never in this lifetime work for that company.

Learn more about effective business communication in these AMA seminars:
Developing Effective Business Conversation Skills

How to Communicate with Diplomacy, Tact and Credibility

About the Author(s)

Carol Kinsey Goman, PhD is an executive coach, leadership consultant, and international keynote speaker at corporate, government, and association events. She is the author of The Nonverbal Advantage: Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work, The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help—or Hurt How You Lead, and most recently, The Truth About Lies in the Workplace: How to Spot Liars and What to Do About Them. For more information, contact [email protected] or visit: