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The 4 Signs your Job Interview isn’t Going Well (and how to fix it)…

Posted on Mar 11, 2021

We’ve all been there, that horrible period of silence after a job interview we thought went really well but it’s now two weeks later and you’re still waiting for that call-back you thought was quickly coming.

Sometimes this can be a total surprise. In your mind, you answered the questions with the right examples, experience and positive “can do” attitude but were eventually told that you’re not right for the job.

So what happened and could you have noticed something during the interview that might have helped you pick up the warning signs earlier?

In most cases, yes. Here are the 4 most common signs..

1. Disinterest

If the interview isn’t going well the interviewer won’t be fully engaged. They may continue asking you questions, but it will be out of courtesy rather than interest. A few signs of disinterest will include:

  • The interview is very short.
  • They fail to ask you to elaborate on experience points crucial to the role.
  • They are easily distracted.
  • They appear bored.
  • Their body language is negative (arms are crossed, they are leaning away from you, shoulders are slouched, lack of eye contact etc).
  • Their conversation tone lacks energy.

How to Fix it?

  1. Change it up! Most interviewers form their impression of you within the first minute of the interview and if you don’t grab them, you’ll be clawing it back the whole time. You can however claw it back by changing the conversation topic. Pick your best, most interesting relevant piece of experience and get passionate about it. Pique their interest.
  2. Try to connect. “Cultural Fit” is becoming more and more important to employer of big and small companies alike and if the interviewer feels they can relate to you, the interview will quickly turn around. This doesn’t mean to get “too personal” instead, try find a common area of interest about the job or company you both share.
  3. Bring the energy. If the energy in the room is lackluster, try to boost it up. You don’t need to find cheerleader levels of enthusiasm, but stay positive, upbeat and probe with intelligent questions and the interviewer may just come out of their shell.

2. They Don’t Try to Sell you the Company or Job

Whilst there are exceptions, in most cases if an interviewer fails to try to sell either the company or job to you in an effort to get you excited, they’ve already decided that you’re not right.

For the most part, bringing a new person into a team is actually quite an exciting event. Like the beginning of a new relationship, the opportunities feel endless and so if they like you, they will tell you about the team you’ll work with, the offices, career paths and the company culture.

If they have already decided against you instead of hearing oodles of information, you’ll hear crickets.

How to Fix it?

Ask the questions. In a situation where the interviewer has decided you’re not the right cultural fit, asking questions about the company and what you could expect might be an opportunity to show them the opposite. Asking about the values, culture etc, is a door opener that allows you to demonstrate just how well you match them.

Sometimes an employer will also assume that you know everything about them and doesn’t elaborate purely because of that assumption. Asking questions (particularly well-researched questions about the company) will help cement you in their mind as a good and interested long-term prospect for the job.

3. They Don’t ask about Salary

Whilst it is a question that many people feel awkward about in an interview, asking about your salary and what you expect from this role is an undoubtable buying signal. They want to know how much you cost and if they can afford it/ make it work with company parity agreements.

Failure to ask this question often (but not always) means they don’t need to know because they won’t be buying.

How to Fix it?

This is a tricky one, because initiating the topic yourself doesn’t always pay off either as they may feel that you’re too forward.

There is also the possibility that if you’re working through a recruiting firm, they may already be aware of your expectations and don’t feel the need to bring it up.

Read the temperature of the room. You are well within your rights to ask what their salary range is and indicate whether or not you fit. If you don’t feel comfortable asking or feel the interviewer won’t respond well to it, then leave it out to come back to in hopefully, the next round of interviews.

4. There are no “Future” Questions

Another signal that they’re just not that into you is the failure to ask what we refer to as “future” questions / statements such as:

  • When would you be available to start?
  • What is your notice period?
  • This is how the process will work from here…
  • Do you have references we can call?
  • Is there anything that might prevent you from accepting this role?

How to Fix it?

Again, prompt the conversation. Pre-written references that you can bring with you to an interview (or better yet, submit it with your CV) is a good way to help turn their opinion of you around at this point. If they read a stellar reference, it may make them reconsider.

You can also ask questions like: “do you have any concerns about me that I can address?”. This is a great question as it gives you an opportunity to hit any hesitations they might have on the head then and there. Others may be “Do I seem like a good fit for the role?” Or “when do you need someone to start in this position?” to get a good gauge of where you stand.

If all Else Fails?

Follow Up

It’s not uncommon for people to get stage fright in interviews and therefore not answer a question as well as they could. Maybe you forgot crucial previous examples, maybe you rambled when you’re normally clear and direct. Whatever happened, this is not totally unsalvageable.

If you feel that you could have nailed certain questions better than you did, don’t hesitate to quickly send a follow up email thanking the interviewer for their time and explaining that due to being nervous, you don’t feel you articulated your answer well on particular questions. Then proceed to answer those questions in full, glorious detail.

Finish your follow up email with a genuine thank you for taking the time to speak with you and a couple of short and sweet points of what excited you about the role and what came up in the interview. It may just prompt a second look.

Use the Interview as a Learning Exercise

Few people get the job for every single interview they attend. If you’ve done everything you can and you’re just not right for them, then take whatever you can learn from the experience and put it towards absolutely acing your next interview.