A conversation this week with a client in active job search prompted me to think a little bit more about not just what is going on in a candidates head at the moment (we all are second guessing ourselvs all the time) but also what are hiring managers thinking.
Here is what I told him based on a recent interview he had where he did all the right things, but perhaps did not see the signals or feel the 'right vibe' from the interviewer.
Sounds like you did all you could do. The "other candidates to consider" line is a standard one, but asking the question shows your level of interest. Do not necessarily expect to discuss compensation in a first interview - my brother never talks money - he assumes if he is the right candidate they will pay him what they think he is worth.
Be mindful that companies who are hiring at the moment are still going to be cautious, they are still unsure about the economy and if they make a commitment to hire they want to be as sure as they can be. This means the process will take longer, more people are going to be involved in the decision and they will move at a pace they are comfortable with, not yours.
If you are going for interviews for lower level positions never assume it's just for that position, especially if senior people are involved. It is an opportunity to show your value and see if it leads to other discussions. Also companies might be hiring at lower levels but with the knowledge that they will need to promote or add at higher levels, it might be a test, it might be caution on their behalf, you will never know unless you go and have a conversation. At worst you make a good contact for the future.