Here, David will endeavor to tell you what's happening and where.
You thought you did well in that interview and you told your better half, or your Mom, or whom-ever, that you were a shoe-in for the job. Sadly, perceptions of success in job interviews are just that, perceptions.
Based on my experience (37 years in recruiting/staffing/business development), a job interview can be one of several scenarios;
a) You were interviewed not by the actual hiring manager, but, by a lower level official, who, while radiating an aura of authority is bathing in the light of nothing more than a gatekeeper. This pre-screening process is fraught with problems for the candidate. A gatekeeper or pre-screener has enormous power and can reject a candidate on a whim or a perceived weakness in the candidate's qualifications that might have been interpreted differently by the actual hiring manager. The candidate should be prepared to courteously defend such perceived weakness if the gatekeeper has hinted at or obliquely divulged an issue.
At the end of the interview, no matter what the gatekeeper has said, the candidate using what I term, "courteous audacity", should ask, "Thank you very much for the opportunity to meet with you today. In terms of our conversation, or based on what you have seen in my resume, is there anything at all that might prevent me from obtaining this position with your company?" The gatekeeper will be hard put to be totally noncommittal. Your thank you note follow-up could be the way to clarify or add relevant information that could turn the situation more in your favor.
b) Another type of gatekeeper or pre-screener will be the HR person who, while very professional, is often limited in their ability to adequately screen candidates because they are tied strictly to the specifics of the job description and will eliminate the prospect because a certain skill set is not enumerated. It may well be the candidate has such skill but it is incorporated in another area of capability which the hiring manager would readily recognize, but the screener may not, and thus reject the candidate. Again, the candidate should use the "courteous audacity" described in a)
c) Let's assume the candidate is now in front of the hiring manager and a really good conversation evolves. So much so that as the discussion progresses the responsibility of the position seems to change. Nevertheless, the candidate leaves the interview in a very good frame of mind only to find later he/she was rejected. It appears the manager did not realize that he/she did not really need this candidate's skills, but, in fact needed a different kind of skill set to fill the role in question. This happens more frequently than one would believe. Again, before leaving the interview the candidate should ask the "question"
d) Another scenario and again quite common, is when the candidate is so well experienced and knowledgeable he/she could be perceived to be a potential future threat to the position of the hiring manager. The candidate may very well think he/she has confidently demonstrated his/her background and experience and received an affirmation of a good interview after posing the "question", only to receive a rejection letter a few days later. Here it would only be the candidate's ability to analyze the manager's posture and manner of conversation to understand why no job offer was made, or, an invitation for a second interview.
These are just a few of the instances that can and do occur, so at some point I will come back here to outline some additional interview advice.
David E. Huntley, CPC
Keep'em informed, not guessing!