December 3, 2013

7 Unmistakable Signs of a Failed Interview

boy frustrated with school or homeworkIt’s an axiom in the field of psychology that individuals tend to overemphasize their performance for a given task, so it shouldn’t always come as a surprise if you think you made a great overall impression in an interview only to find out that you didn’t get the job. Dissecting the situation post facto is often enough to drive one to insanity but if you know the proper signs to look for during the interviewing process, you can often tell when an employer is becoming turned off and losing interest in you as a candidate. Not only can these observations help you to feel more closure at the end of the ideal, this skill can also help you to avoid failing the interview altogether.

Here is a list of some common signs you can pick up on to tell that an interview isn’t going (or didn’t go) so well:

1. An in-person interview is short and not so sweet. A typical good interview will last at least 30 minutes and won’t seem to drag along. Common signs of an interview that’s going south include an interviewer who regularly checks his or her watch or who appears bored or disinterested in what a candidate is saying.

2. The interviewer doesn’t discuss an applicant’s skills. One of the primary purposes of an interview assessment is for an employer to get a good grasp of how well a candidate’s skill set matches up with the offered position. If an employer is neglecting to discuss necessary skills and seems otherwise casual in the presentation of information, that probably indicates a lack of interest and a going-through-the-motions approach to an interview.

3. The interviewer is frequently distracted by calls or other business. Any polite interviewer will turn off his or her phone and block off some time to interview a candidate, but if an interviewer is constantly turning attention to other tasks, it’s a pretty sure sign the interview is not a priority.

4. A lack of response to stories of accomplishment. If after you’ve shared the brilliant stories of past achievements your interviewer responds with silence or is dismissive, that’s a strong indication that he or she is not really into the interview. Interested interviewers will react to tales of accomplishment and will remain engaged in the conversation.

5. No smiles for you. If you don’t get even one smile from the interviewer, it is likely that your interview isn’t going so well. He or she should at least convey a little positivity toward you during your time together, and a smile is the simplest and most obvious indication.

6. A sense of being interrogated rather than being interviewed. Successful interviews will feel like a natural and friendly conversation, not like you are being grilled by police detectives. A good rapport and an easy back-and-forth dialogue are requisites for a positive interview. If they are lacking and the interview is a one-sided affair, there’s probably little chance of a job offer.

7. Discouraging statements. Receiving a statement such as “We have a lot of interviews this week” is an undeniable indication that the employer is still shopping around for the best candidate. If an employer is genuinely interested in a candidate, that candidate won’t be dismissed so easily.

These indicators won’t work in all situations and for all employers, but the more aware you are of the situation the better you can gauge your success and develop your expectations.


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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.