I had an academic interview. During the interview, some panel members showed positive body language. In the end, they asked me for a reference. After that, the main interviewer said that they had some more applicants to interview and would get back to me after a few days. I wonder if that means that they are not interested in me? Is that a bad sign?
It's not a bad sign at all. If they have more interviews arranged, they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't interview them. They don't just hire the first person suitable for the job. They hire the best person for the job! This may still be you - or it may be the next person to be interviewed.
Be patient, and they should let you know one way or the other!
As an interviewer, we have been instructed that we must never say in the interview whether we're going to take them or not.
Suppose we do want them. The interview process also includes the manager, the technical interviewer(s) and the HR representative all comparing notes afterwards, and possibly then passing the best candidate's details to the next level of management for sign-off. We can't do that with the interviewee present, and we can't very well make them wait around. And if the interviewee has gone through an agency, technically the request to hire has to go through them.
And suppose we don't want them. If we say straight out in the interview that we're not going further, we're leaving ourselves open to the candidate getting unpleasant with us. We don't want our staff getting abused or possibly attacked during an interview. So rejections happen at arms' length, by phone or post.
While it's true on average that they're probably saying exactly what they mean, it's all about
Depending on how well you came across, how well you interviewed them, their manner when they say it, it could be a good sign. Or bad.
The unspoken part might be:
(We really want to hire you now but) we have other interviews to conduct and then (we can talk about when you can start).
Of course, if they're not nudging you and winking obviously, then it might instead be:
(We don't think you're that great but) we have other interviews to conduct and then (we'll know if there's someone better suited to this job).
But I have to complain you buried the lede... When an interviewer says they'll call in "a few days", ask them to be specific. Your reasoning might be that you have other offers to consider, other interviews to attend (possibly out of town?), and so on. Be polite and positive, naturally. But it looks like in this case, their vagueness is the all the context you need. Keep trying!
The main interviewer said that they had some more applicants to interview and would get back to me after a few days.
Is that a bad sign?
It is not a bad sign. Quite the opposite! It is a good sign. It is an indicator that their hiring process is well-designed.
Think about it: Would you really want to start working at an institution where your future colleagues were hired on the spot, without the institution looking at the other candidates?
Concerning your chances at this institution, it is not an indicator at all. But even if it was – you shouldn't concern yourself with that. All that matters for you is the final hired/not hired response.