what your interviewer says / what you hear / what they mean

We’ve had a few letters recently where people have felt misled by a job interviewer’s apparent enthusiasm for them, and then were angry and/or confused when things ended up not working out.

So I hereby present a guide to what your interviewer says, what you’re hearing, and what it really means.

What the interviewer says: You’d be great at this.
What you hear: You will be great at this, because you will be getting the job.
What they mean: You would be great at this if you happened to end up in the job.

What the interviewer says: We should get back to you in about a week.
What you hear: It’s Wednesday now. You will hear from us by next Tuesday.
What they mean: Off the top of my head, I’d think we should probably be able to move forward in about a week, if nothing else gets in the way.

What the interviewer says: Your qualifications are exactly what we’re looking for.
What you hear: You are exactly what we’re looking for, so let’s make this happen.
What they mean: Your qualifications are exactly what we’re looking for, so you’re a good candidate. I expect that we’ll have other candidates who are as strong, and maybe stronger, but you’re certainly in that group.

What the interviewer says: When you meet with the CEO, he can tell you more about that.
What you hear: You’re moving forward to an interview with the CEO.
What they mean: If you end up moving forward in the process, you’ll meet with the CEO, and he can tell you more about that.

What the interviewer says: I look forward to talking more.
What you hear: We’ll be talking more.
What they mean: If you end up moving forward in the process, we’ll talk more.

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