6 signs your job interview is going badly

Charlie Benson
Content Marketing Executive

How can you tell when your interview is going well, or if you won't be getting a job offer? 

As a student or recent graduate, it's likely you're just now building up some experience attending job interviews - so it can be hard to know how to read the situation. 

There are, however, clues to look out for that can indicate the interviewer is unimpressed. And, if you know the signs, you just might be able to turn things around. 


GIF via radiotimes.com 


We asked three Recruitment experts to share the signs you need to look out for - and if there's anything you can do to recover the situation. 



1. The interviewer seems distracted, or disinterested

"When their behaviour changes from curiosity, to 'checking the box'", that's a bad sign, says Recruiter and Career Coach Diana Logan. If the interviewer seems to be going through the motions, but isn't engaged by what you're saying, that could be really bad news. Once they "'check out', you have lost them," Diana warns. 

If you're faced with this situation, flip the conversation and ask the interviewer some questions of your own to re-engage them. Diana recommends you "ask them questions about their background, preferences or experiences."

This can work, "because people like to talk about themselves, and it shows your emotional intelligence if you sense they are getting bored and respond by steering the conversation back to them." 



2. They don't ask tough questions 

According to Diana, "the best interviews are when the hiring manager does most of the talking". So, don't be afraid of challenging questions - the interviewer isn't trying to catch you out, they're pushing you and giving you the chance to excel. 

On the flip side, if the interviewer seems to be going through a standard set of questions, and isn't responding to your answers with relevant follow-up questions, this can be cause for concern.



3. They don't make eye contact 

It's not just about what the interviewer says, or doesn't say. A key indicator as to how well your interview is going is in the body language of the person you're interviewing with. 

Lee Woodward, a Retail Marketing Recruiter at POSability Recruitment Agency, says his "number one sign" an interview isn't going well "is body language and facial expressions".

"People can be well trained on the discipline of what they say, but it's much harder to hide how they feel," he says. 

If your interviewer doesn't maintain eye contact and displays closed body language, such as crossed arms, it's likely they're not impressed by your performance. Lee recommends thinking about when this behaviour started - was it from the outset of the interview, perhaps because you arrived late? Or, was there a shift in the interviewer's body language following a weak response to a question? 

Pinpoint where things started going downhill, and you may be able to turn things around. If it was a not-so-great answer you gave to a question, Lee advises you "try and revisit the topic if you can," by asking: "is there anything I've not gone over today that you'd like me to discuss?" 

"That way," Lee explains, "they might revisit what they didn't like and give you a chance to redefine your answer."  



4. They keep pausing to look at your CV

Watch out for an interviewer spending a lot of time searching your CV for things to talk about, says Ben Marsland, former Recruitment Manager at GradTouch. 

"An interview should be a conversation, not strictly question-answer format," Ben explains. "If the conversation dries up, you're going to have a problem."

You'll know if the conversation seems to be flowing naturally, and, if it's not, do your best to inject some life into it by asking probing questions of your own. It's your opportunity to take control of the situation, and demonstrate the research you did on the company. 



5. They cut the interview short 

As a general rule, Ben says an interview that lasts under 30 minutes "is a bit of a worry - but every company is different". 

There is no set time a 'good' interview should last for, so don't get too hung up on a seemingly short interview - it may just be the case that they have all the information they need to progress you through the hiring process. 

If, however, the interview lasts significantly less time than it was scheduled for, that's rarely a good sign. 



6. They say: "we'll call you"

"If you get a 'we will call you,' instead of 'we are going to schedule you for the next steps,' it's basically over," says Recruiter and Career Coach Diana Logan.

When things go well, the interviewer will typically want to arrange a follow-up, or at least give you an idea of when they'll be making a decision. 

Diana explains that, though there are "always exceptions" to this rule, the way your interview ends is a good indication of whether there'll be a second interview, or positive outcome. 

If you're faced with this situation, let the interviewer know you're still really excited about the position - then take the initiative and ask them what the next step is.