Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

7 Signs Your Job Interview Isn’t Going Well (and How to Recover).

By James Ball | Jun 1, 2016 | Candidate Tips

cartoon man being shown out the door (bad interview)Ever had a job interview that you thought went amazingly well, but then failed to get a call-back?

We’ve all been there and it can be SO demoralising – especially when unexpected.

And what good is feedback when you’ve already flopped?

The seven warning signs we’ve highlighted below will help to alert you when something is amiss during the interview – so you actually have time to do something about it.

1. Your interviewer doesn’t seem interested.

Now, obviously this is a terrible sign.

And it can manifest in lots of different ways…

  • Do they seem easily distracted and as if they’re not really taking in what you’re saying?
  • Do they rattle off questions from a sheet, without attempting to follow-up or probe?
  • Do they appear bored, too relaxed and/or nonchalant?

This could be because they’ve already found someone they consider to be the ‘dream candidate’ and they’re simply going through the motions…

It could be because you’re boring them to death.

Either way, it’s time to step up your game.

Change your tack; whatever you’re currently talking about clearly doesn’t impress them, so start discussing something else compelling – perhaps other work experience, skills and strengths.

Or, try to find some common ground, connect with them on some level to get them back into the room and engaged in the conversation – asking questions could help you to do this.

Of course, if your interviewer is being openly rude, then you might want to consider whether you’d even want to work with them in the first place.

2. They don’t sell the vacancy.

If an interviewer really wants you to join the company then they’ll be excited and determined to sell the role to you; they’ll boast about all of the great things about the company, the job, the team etc.

If, on the other hand, they simply throw questions at you, without giving anything away in return, they may have already (possibly subconsciously) decided not to hire you.

Now you have to win them over!

Again, this may simply take a change of tack, conversation-changer or an effort to bond and engage them in the conversation.

Asking your interviewer some questions about their role and the company will help with this and will also show how passionate you genuinely are about the job.

For more advice on the kinds of questions you could be asking to wow your interviewer, click here.

3. The conversation doesn’t flow.

This is a gut instincts one.

Does the conversation seem strained or awkward? Are there just a little too many pauses and does your interviewer struggle to think of their next question?

You’ll usually be able to tell whether they’re just nervous and inexperienced or whether it’s you, but either way, you’ve probably not made a strong enough connection – so that both of you are at ease with each other’s company.

So try and bring up something you have in common, don’t be so over-confident that you come across arrogant and hostile and perhaps, make a joke to break the ice!

Most interviewers will make a hiring decision based on personality.

4. The interview doesn’t last very long.

If you’re scheduled in for an hour and end up leaving within 30 minutes, it’s probably not a great sign I’m afraid.

In general, a good, solid interview should last over 45 minutes (unless specifically stated otherwise).

This means that you have managed to keep your interviewer interested, kept the conversation going and you’ve both had enough time to get to know each other properly.

If you feel like the conversation is coming to an end too soon – bring out the big guns.

Own the conversation, ask questions and again, try to build more of a relationship with your interviewer (unless of course, you’ve gone off the job anyway).

5. Your interviewer exhibits bad body language.

Again, it’s time to use those gut instincts to suss out an interviewer using body language signals.

Some examples of possible warning signs include…

  • Lack of eye contact. If your interviewer can’t look you in the face then they could be feeling uncomfortable with the situation, are possibly disinterested in what you have to say or it could be that they’re feeling guilty.
  • Slouching. This could be a good or a bad thing. Perhaps the interview is bored and can’t be bothered talking to you – or maybe they simply feel really relaxed. Use your instincts.
  • Lack of a smile. If your interviewer spends the entire time frowning, then it’s clearly not a great sign.

It would take all day to go through all of the different so-called ‘body language’ warning signs, but in the end it comes down to using your gut instincts.

Do they appear bored, irritated or even angry? Or do they seem interested, passionate and excited?

6. They become hostile.

There are some interviewers out there who feel the need to ask ridiculous, difficult interview questions to put candidates on the spot and assess their ‘ability to cope under pressure.’

However, there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed!

If you can feel the tension rising, your interviewer is barking questions at you and appears hostile, then they’re either a really bad interviewer (in which case you may not want to work with them anyway) or you’ve somehow managed to wind them up…

At this point, you can do one of three things…

  • Stay positive, make a joke, smile and attempt to win them over (you can do it).
  • Ask if and how you’ve offended them.
  • Recruitment is a two-way street and nobody should be treating you disrespectfully.

Of course, it’s very rare for anything like this to occur – so don’t worry too much about it.

7. They don’t mention the next steps.

Ok, so I’ve thrown this one in, but I do need to clarify.

Not every interviewer will tell you about the next steps without some prompting from yourself.

Some may not feel it’s necessary, some may be inexperienced and some may simply forget.

However, if you ask them and they start to behave a bit fishy, then it doesn’t exactly bode well.

At this point (usually at the end of the interview) it’s best to stay positive, be polite and inform your interviewer that you are ‘eagerly awaiting their decision.’

You can then follow-up with a lovely thank you email afterwards.

Never, ever be rude! Sure, if the decision has already been made then there’s not a lot you can do about it, but what if you’re wrong and you blow it all?

Stay positive.

I know it’s cheesy, but the most important thing to remember is to STAY POSITIVE.

Don’t let negative experiences drag you down.

Recruiter Pro Tip

If you didn’t get the job, then it simply wasn’t meant to be.

I mean it; you deserve to enjoy your job and if your interviewer didn’t think you had the right skills and/or personality, then they may have been really, right – not everyone is right for every role or company.

Think of it as good practice, ask for some feedback and smash your next interview!

Click here for some more tips on job-seeking and interviewing (from the experts).

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- James Ball

James Ball

James is the founder and owner of Coburg Banks and a recruitment expert from Sutton Coldfield in the UK.  He regularly advises companies on how to improve and get the maximum ROI from their recruitment processes.

> More blog posts by James Ball

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