Before I become an independent small-businessperson who will never again get fired or collect unemployment insurance, I used to go on job interviews from time to time. The vast majority felt pretty good from my end. The interviewer would smile and joke and good-vibe me, and often flatter me with admiring comments or by mentioning glowing recommendations that had come from former employers or colleagues. It took a few years but I finally figured out that being good-vibed meant I probably wasn’t going to be hired.

The flattery, I finally realized, was about the interviewer making him/herself feel good. He/she had more or less decided I was a no-go before I came in or seconds after I sat down, you see, and so he/she poured on the compliments as a form of emotional compensation (for me) or guilt relief (for him/her).

If an interviewer is seriously interested in hiring you he/she will lean in and narrow the eyes and ask you a lot of in-depth questions about this or that. That’s because they like your resume and your manner but they want to be sure. But if they go “tee-hee-hee” or smile or joke around or sing your praises and pat you on the shoulder, you’re almost certainly dead meat.