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According to Martin Hewing's Advanced English Grammar:

The difference between past continuous and past perfect continuous is as follows:

When we met Simon and Pat, they had been riding.(=we met after they had finished)

When we met Simon and Pat, they were riding.(=we met while they were riding)

If we keep in mind this difference, will native speakers consider sentences like:"Jane had been suffering from flu when she was interviewed," to mean that Jane had recovered before the interview?

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In my opinion she was still suffering at the time of the interview, or it was obvious she had very recently had the flu and her voice was still affected for example.

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Difference between past continuous and past perfect continuous.

The main difference between past continuous and past perfect continuous is that past continuous tense refers to ongoing action in the past, while past perfect continuous talks about actions in the past that occurred before another action.

Both past continuous and past perfect continuous tenses can be used to talk about actions or situations that were in progress at a certain point of time in the past. While the past continuous merely shows continuity, the past perfect continuous tense also puts an emphasis on the idea of duration. It is mainly used to indicate the duration of a past activity or state.

Referring to your examples. In all three examples the conjunction used is when. (not before or after). When (meaning in Oxford dictionary) = used for talking about the time at which something happens or happened.

  1. When we met Simon and Pat, they had been riding.(It may also mean - when we met them they were riding but they stopped when they saw us.)
  2. When we met Simon and Pat, they were riding.(=we met while they were still riding. It is not clear whether they stopped riding or continued)
  3. Jane had been suffering from the flu when she was interviewed. It is not clear whether she recovered or not. If the past continuous tense (she was suffering) was used instead then it would mean she was still suffering, (like still riding) in the above example.

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