Signs Your Interview Didn’t Go Well (17 Signs + Tips)

Signs your interview didn't go well

As you interview with various companies, there will be times that the interview didn’t go as planned. In this article, we’re going to point out the main signs your interview didn’t go well.

This can be because of any number of reasons, and it doesn’t always mean you are a bad candidate. It can be just the luck of the draw. Some of the following signs and tips can be used during the interview, and others are after it occurred. Let’s dive in and see them.

Interview was shorter than the allotted time

One of the signs your interview didn’t go well is if it was shorter than the scheduled time. Most interviews are 30 minutes long with the occasional forty-fiver, but they normally don’t go beyond this. At some companies, you might do an initial 15-minute screening, but that is as short as they get. Anyhow, when you are invited to an interview, you will receive the calendar invite email or something similar from the company. In this invite, you should see how long the interview is i.e. 1:00 – 1:30 PM.

So, say your interview was scheduled for 30-minutes, and after 10-minutes the interviewer is trying to wrap things up, this might be a sign the interview went badly.

A shorter than expected interview lineup

At some interviews, especially when you get into the second and third rounds, there might be multiple people interviewing you, or these interviews might occur back-to-back. One thing to look out for is if the lineup changes. Suppose that you were scheduled to have 3 interviews in a row, and then you only have one. Unless the interviewer provides you with a plausible reason, this could mean that things are not looking so good.

Strange Interviewer Body Language

Have you ever noticed when someone is interested in a conversation? The person’s body language is open. There is no crossing of arms, no hunching over, no looking side to side or the appearance of being distracted. An interviewer that is engaged is focused on you and wants to know more about you.

If the interviewer is demonstrating strange body language, it could inherently be a sign that the interview is not going so well.  Check out this article on body language for a deeper dive into the topic.

Interviewer seems disinterested

Similar to what was mentioned in the previous point, a disinterested interviewer is one that is not really paying much attention to what you are saying. He/she may seem preoccupied with other things and not with the moment – the interview. Be on the look out if you’ve had an interview like this. Obviously, there could be other reasons that the person seemed disinterested, but it is rarely a good sign.

Interviewer keeps taking calls or checking phone in interview

Besides being very disrespectful to the candidate, this is often a sign your interview is not on the right track. Obviously, there are situations where this might occur and everything is still OK, but the interviewer should advise you.

If this keeps on coming up during the interview, you may ask, “Would it be best for us to schedule another time for us to finish this interview?” Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask. After all, if you are confident that you are a good fit and have the skills for the position, don’t let the current situation affect your chances. Ask to reschedule.

Information shared was vague or very limited

A clear sign your interview is off to a bad start is if the interviewer shares just the bare minimum about the company and position. You might interpret this as the interviewer is trying to end the session and doesn’t want to bother giving you the details because you are not a good candidate for the position.

A good interview, on the other hand, would have the interviewer straight up selling the glory of the company and position and why YOU should join.

Interviewer didn’t try to sell the company and dream

Reiterating the previous point, and interviewer’s job is to sort out the great from good candidates and then to convince them that this is the best option. Many times, candidates are going through multiple hiring processes at other companies and are trying to determine what is their best move. If the interviewer has not even tried to sell you on the company and the dream of working there, this might indicate that your interview has not gone well.

Your future and growth not mentioned

Whenever an interviewer or HR rep likes and believes a candidate is a good fit for the job, it is common to hear things like, “there is a lot of growth potential in this position…” or “this company will help lead you to a brighter future…” “The company has a great work culture…”. These are just a few things that could be said, when an interviewer tries to sell you on the dream and why YOU should join.

No connection or affinity with the interviewer

Another clear sign that your interview didn’t go well is that you were unable to establish a connection with the interviewer. Obviously, there are times when a person is hard to read or hard to connect with, so you’ll be in doubt. But I’m talking about the vast majority of interviews. In an interview where there is a good connection, it is like playing pitch and catch; there is a good back and forth of questions and answers, and it seems like more a conversation. When this occurs in an interview, you can be certain that you’ll be called in for the next round. When it doesn’t happen, you can assume things didn’t go so well.

No Emotion, No Smile, No Energy

An emotionless, non-smiling, low-energy interviewer is never a good sign. Having an interview with a person like this should make you think twice about whether you want to work at a place like this. Was the interviewer like this right from the start, or did the mood change five minutes into the interview? If it is the latter, it may be a sign that something has gone wrong right out of the gate. In most interviews, the interviewer should be energetic and enthused to learn about you. If it starts this way and then shifts, it could signal that you’re not what they want.

Some Major Questions Were Left Out

As you interview at different companies, whether in the same segment or different ones across the board, you will be asked certain questions about your experience. There are some interview questions that you can always expect:

“Tell me about yourself”, “What is your greatest strength and weakness?”, “Why should we hire you?”, “Why are you interested in (company name)?” , “Could you summarize your resume (or a similar variation)?”

If you are not asked any of these questions, this may be a red flag that an interview didn’t go well. On the other hand, some companies have different hiring processes and may do things differently. They may not ask the typical questions. They might take a show-what-you-know approach, give you a task, and see how well you can complete it. Every company is different. If you are not asked some of the major questions and the interview process as a whole seems very shallow, it might be a bad sign.

We Have Concerns About Your Experience

Yes, this does come up from time to time, and it can mean a few things. Sometimes the interviewer is just trying to test you. Are they looking for you to clarify the concern and then sell yourself? Or is there a legitimate concern about your experience for the role? Assume it is the first one. Always clarify the concern, then follow up with your answer to acknowledge their concerns and extinguish them. Prove to them that you are the right candidate. If, on the other hand, there seems to be a legitimate concern, try your best to clarify it. If you cannot, then it is probably a deal-breaker and a sign the interview went badly.

Other Better Candidates Are Mentioned In The Interview

Often times recruiters will throw this at you. Take the time to sell yourself when you’re answering the questions. Clearly convey why you are the solution to the problem or challenge they have. Sometimes the interviewer is just testing you, so you should push forward and show your skills. Other times, this is an indirect way to say, “Sorry, but we’re not interested in your skills.” If they say we are currently interviewing other candidates and we’ll get back to you, it is generally not a good sign. The one sign of hope might be if you had established good rapport with the interviewer and you believe that the interview went well. If this is the case, you might ask, “When should I expect to hear from you?” Sometimes as a matter of process, the company has to interview X number of people, and you were one of the first. Either way, it’s always good to clarify and get the real scoop.

Repeated talks about specific areas on your resume

Have you ever had an interview where the recruiter just kept on asking specific questions about one experience on your resume? Sometimes interviewers are trying to call your bluff. They know that many people oversell themselves on their resumes, thus glorifying their overrated or non-existent skills and experience. This could be a plausible reason for a deeper dive into areas on your resume or your experience. It can also be that the interviewer wants to see how you think and how you can break things down to explain them. Some interviewers apply a method called the 5 Whys; it is essentially a method to dive deeper into something and discover its core. This approach happens quite often to managerial and higher positions. Repeating or digging deeper into an area is not always bad; but if after a few questions the interviewer keeps going back to certain areas on your resume, this would be a signal of non-confidence in something you stated. 

Resume Scrutiny

Very similar to the previous topic, this is mainly about what was mentioned on your resume, whereas the previous topic can be about your experience as a whole. If an interview keeps on going over and over and over your resume trying to poke holes in it, it may not be a good sign. It is typical for an interviewer to ask a few questions about a particular experience and dive deeper. It is not as typical when you have already answered multiple questions about something on your resume, moved ahead in the interview, to then go back and forth to that aspect of the resume.

Employer Rushes To End Interview

Yup, I’ve had a few of these in the past. A 30-minute interview was scheduled and 13.5 minutes into the interview, the interviewer is trying to wrap things up. Never a good sign. Interviews being wrapped up earlier than expected are clear signs your interview didn’t go well.

Learn how to bounce back from a bad interview.

Employer didn’t give you time to ask questions

Interviews are a two-way street. They are meant for the interviewer to get to know who you are, if you fit the mold for the company, and whether you have the right skills. It is also for you to determine if the company is the right fit for you. One of the ways you do this is by putting together some questions. As you prepare for an interview, you should have already looked over the website, read blog articles, got a good understanding of the product or service, and now have some questions about the company. You normally get some time for a few questions at the end of the interview. Sometimes though, once the interviewer has finished asking his questions, he may start trying to wrap things up. Try your best to squeeze in a few questions. After all, you’ve done your homework and prepared for this interview, why waste it? Tell the interviewer, “I have a few questions I would l like to ask about the company, position etc… Then add your question. Most interviewers will take a few minutes to answer them. If the interviewer is still resistant to the idea of answering questions, it is a bad sign.

Wrap up

The job interview process has its ups and downs. Some days you are going to nail it and get called in for another interview, and others will not go so smoothly. As you go into your upcoming interviews, watch out for signs that your interview is not going well. Apply the tips provided above to help rebound and get that desired position. If the interview has already ended and you are reflecting on the experience, think about what went well, what didn’t go well, and what you would change for your next interview. Stay persistent, stay hungry, and keep on trying – you will eventually get there!

For more tips on job searching and interview tips, check out the Careerprep blog and the CareerPrep Youtube channel.

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