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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

3 Things Interviewers Always Say—and What They Actually Mean

top people speaking in a job interview with a light brown bookcase in the background
Bailey Zelena; insta_photos/Getty Images

Job seekers have spent hundreds of years trying to decode the things the people in charge say before, during, and after interviews. You’re not the only person who’s trying to read between all the lines—or who whips out a high-powered microscope to attempt to read between the words and letters, too.

However, my experience as a recruiter and hiring manager tells me that the conclusions you come up with might be way off. So to help you spend less time overanalyzing (or worse, misanalayzing), I’ve translated three of the most common phrases. Plus, I’ll include why they get said and what to do when you hear them.

1. What interviewers mean when they say, “We’re interviewing additional candidates, but we’ll be in touch very soon.”

Translation: “We’ll actually be in touch very soon.”

In the minds of job seekers everywhere, this is the worst-case scenario. “They’re interviewing other candidates because they’re not going to hire me. This is the worst. Right?”

Not so fast. A hiring manager might be interviewing other people, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a good option. Sure, there are times when an interviewer will say this because they’ll be in touch soon to let you down. But that’s not the only reason you’ll hear it come out of their mouth.

Don’t forget that interviewers not only have a number of questions they need to ask you during an interview, but there are also a bunch of things they just get comfortable saying on autopilot. That includes, “We’re interviewing other candidates, so…”—even when you’re on the verge of being hired. When I interviewed in the past, I kept this line at the bottom of my notes for each person. And I even said it to candidates I knew we wanted to hire.

What to do when you hear, “We’re interviewing additional candidates, but we’ll be in touch very soon.”

Simple answer: Be patient.

Before you dive into your second pint of ice cream to mourn a job you’re convinced you’re not getting—well, OK, who am I to keep you from that?—just remember that hiring managers say this kind of thing sometimes. Because after conducting multiple interviews every day, it’s just how they’ve been programmed to end an interview and it doesn’t mean that they’ve made a decision on your candidacy either way.

2. What interviewers mean when they say, “We’re really excited for you—uh, the person in this job—to…”

The truth? This is usually nothing more than a slip of the tongue.

I know what you’re thinking when you hear this. And on the couple of occasions I made this mistake when I was a recruiter, I wanted to bite my tongue so hard. Why? Because I knew how easily that could be interpreted as, “Wahoo, they’re going to make me an offer as soon as this thing is over!”

While it makes sense that you’d come to this conclusion after hearing something like this, it’s not necessarily the case. So on behalf of those of us who know we’ve made the mistake, I’d like to say the following: We are really, really sorry.

While it’s a good indicator that the mood of your interview is trending in the right direction, this is unfortunately not a subtle, wink wink way of saying that you’re about to be hired.

What to do when you hear, “We’re really excited for you—uh, the person in this job—to…”

Again, be patient and wait for actual news. If you have a job, don’t rush into your boss’s office to quit as soon as you hear a hiring manager use the word “you” in a sentence describing the position.

3. What interviewers mean when they say, “Here’s my card. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.”

“Hello! McFly!”

Yes, hiring managers are happy to answer any questions you think of after you leave an interview. But if you haven’t caught on by now, being handed a business card is a not-so-subtle way of saying, “Here is my email address, to which I expect you to send a thank you note.”

What to do when you hear, “Here’s my card...”

While asking questions post-interview is encouraged if you actually have them, it’s not necessary. In fact, a hiring manager can tell when you’re sending them a battery of questions you don’t want or need the answers to just to try to make a better impression. So before you worry about emailing your interviewer anything else, make sure you write a thoughtful, personalized thank you email!

It’s easy to board the worst-case scenario train whenever an interviewer says—well, just about anything. And while you should handle the interview process with as much care as possible, there’s no need to analyze every single word that comes out of a hiring manager’s mouth. You were invited in for one reason, and one reason only: The company thinks you could be a great hire. And it’s just up to you to prove everyone there right.