3 signs your job interview didn’t go well


An interview is stressful, even at the best of times. If you feel like you’re being put under a microscope, that’s because you are! Employers want to know you can do the job. But, just as importantly, they want to determine if you can fit into their team.

Likeability is an intangible part of your interview, so how can you make sure you come across as personable as well as competent? What to do when your interview is not going in the right direction?

The fact is that there is no magic formula. Your best bet is to prepare for the interview as best you can. If the interview doesn’t seem to be going well, you can try pivoting a bit, but sometimes there’s nothing you can do. If the interviewer has already decided to choose another candidate and is just going through the motions while interviewing you, it’s not your fault.

These things happen though, perhaps more than we think. You need to be aware of what is happening during your interview so that you can try to adapt wherever possible.

Here are three signs that your job interview is not going well:

They didn’t have a good reaction to your successes

Candidate talks to hiring managers and realizes the interview isn't going well

Large inventory

Perhaps you have a success story that, in the past, elicited nods of approval or smiles from your interviewer(s). If you tell the same story with the same enthusiasm and don’t get the same or similar reaction, it may mean that they don’t listen, don’t get the gist of the story, or don’t understand the importance of success.

It could also be a sign that you failed to communicate with the interviewer from the start and that they are not as attentive as you need to be in understanding why you are the most qualified candidate.

They seemed bored and distracted

Candidate thinks hiring managers/interviewers seem bored and distracted during his job interview

Large inventory

If the interviewer continues to stare at their phone or computer screen, they may be showing a lack of interest in what you have to say, or may simply be distracted by something going on. passes and which has priority over your interview. Maybe they’re monitoring an emergency situation, but they can’t or won’t share it with you. Or maybe they’ve just decided they won’t hire you, so nothing you say will make a difference. Again, they’re just going through the motions.

Without being rude yourself, there’s not much you can do to get them to pay attention to you, unless you can get their attention with a witty remark or humorous story. Everyone generally responds to humor if it is well delivered and natural. However, not everyone can achieve this, and it’s especially difficult if you’re nervous.

They didn’t tell you about next steps or ask if you had any questions for them

If the interview went poorly, the interviewers won’t ask you if you have any questions for them and they won’t suggest what your next steps will be. If you ask them and they seem vague or reluctant to tell you when they plan to fill the position, that’s another sign that you probably won’t be considered as one of the finalists.

Sometimes circumstances are beyond your control and there’s nothing you can do to salvage an interview that isn’t going well. As a post-interview exercise, you should reflect, from hello to goodbye, on how you think you performed and the reactions of your interviewer(s).

  • Didn’t manage to prepare properly?
  • Have you practiced well enough beforehand to be able to contain your nerves?
  • Were you prepared with the right type of answers to the questions you were asked?
  • Were you concise in your answers or did you ramble?
  • Did you stay on the question of your ability to do the job or did you veer toward the personal and end up sharing too much?

If the interview obviously went poorly and you’re pretty sure you won’t get an offer, chalk it up to a good experience and move on. Learn from experience. Avoid blaming the entire situation on the interviewer. Perhaps there was something you could have done to pique their interest and change their mind about you during the interview.

Take responsibility for your performance and try to understand how you can improve in the future. Learn from your mistakes, adjust your approach if necessary, and move on. Maybe this job wasn’t the best for you anyway. Maybe not getting that job is a good thing. This frees you up for a better opportunity that might present itself soon.

Interviews are a necessary part of any job search. Learn to prepare. Learn to manage your nerves. Practice with a friend or coach until you refine the answers to the questions you’re likely to be asked and can deliver them with confidence. There is no substitute for good preparation, so if you do the work, you will always see results. Your hard work will pay, we promise!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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