13 Signs an Interview Went Bad (With Tips to Salvage It)

Updated 21 March 2023

A job interview can leave you feeling unsure of whether you got the job or may receive an invitation to a second interview. There are some key signs you can pay attention to throughout the meeting to help you assess whether it's going well. Knowing what to look for can help you recognise when to change your approach with the interviewer and possibly redeem the interview. In this article, we discuss signs an interview went badly, offer tips on how to manage an interview that may be going awry and provide some signs of a successful interview.

Related: 10 Interview Hacks to Help You Prepare for a Job Interview

13 signs an interview went badly

As you review 13 signs an interview went badly, consider that there may be other factors influencing the interviewer that could affect your time together, such as lack of sleep, ill-health or a stressful workday. It can be helpful to recognise these signs and use them to adjust your approach. Here are 13 signs that may indicate that an interview didn't go well and tips on how you can adapt:

1. A much shorter interview time

An average in-person interview lasts for approximately 30 minutes. Some interviews can end abruptly due to someone calling the interviewer away to manage an unexpected situation. A shorter interview doesn't always reflect on its quality, but it may be worth noticing if other signs are present. You may ask the recruiter if they'd prefer to reschedule the interview to a more suitable time. This can demonstrate your flexibility and willingness to adapt to circumstances. It can also show your consideration for your teammates and their hard work.

2. No introduction to other employees

Meeting other employees during a job interview may allow a hiring manager to assess group interactions and gauge whether you fit in well with the existing team. While this isn't always part of an interview, it could be significant if the recruiter mentions it at the beginning of the interview and then doesn't talk about it anymore. In such a case, you could ask the interviewer if they'd still like to introduce you to the team. Your boldness, determination and attention to detail may count in your favour.

Related: Attention to Detail: Definition and Examples

3. Lack of details regarding the role

An employer who considers you a good candidate is usually enthusiastic about explaining the positive aspects of the organisation to make the job opportunity seem attractive. If this isn't the case, it could mean that the interviewer is a junior human resources representative without much experience in conducting interviews, or it could indicate that they don't see you as a good fit for the employer. You can take the initiative and show your interest in the job by asking questions about daily duties and responsibilities, organisation culture or requirements for the role.

Related: Guide to Company Culture

4. Focus on the negative aspects of the position

An interviewer may focus on the negative aspects of the job you're seeking, such as tedious duties or long work hours. They might do this to dissuade you from applying for the position if they're unsure of your suitability. Aim to provide thoughtful responses that highlight your optimism and positive outlook to create a good impression on the hiring manager. If you've worked under similar circumstances before, consider sharing this experience with your interviewer to display your interest in the position.

Related: How to Be a Good Interviewer to Find the Best Job Candidates

5. Disengaged body language

An interviewer's body language can offer some indications of how an interview is going. A recruiter who appears disinterested or distracted may have already decided to hire another candidate. You may try to recapture their attention by asking an insightful question about the organisation or position.

Some other signs to notice in an interviewer may include:

  • watching the clock

  • fiddling with items on the desk

  • fidgeting with jewellery or clothing

  • drumming fingers or jiggling legs

  • stopping making notes

  • avoiding eye contact

  • reading through your resume continually

  • displaying low energy by slouching on the desk or slumping in the chair

  • speaking in a monotone voice or sounding disengaged

  • avoiding smiling.

Related: Improve Your Nonverbal Communication Skills

6. Lack of connection with the interviewer

Different interviewers may approach an interview in various ways. Some can create an informal environment, while others may lean towards a formal approach.

Here are some signs of a lack of rapport that you may look for in the interviewer's manner:

  • lack of enthusiasm

  • distraction or disinterest

  • brief responses to your questions.

These signs in isolation may sometimes indicate an interviewer who has a reserved, serious nature. You may try adjusting your manner to match their personality. This could involve showing more enthusiasm by exuding more energy, or else toning it down.

Related: Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

7. No discussion of a future with the organisation

An interviewer who approves of a candidate may discuss opportunities for advancement within an organisation. Interviewers who don't see the candidate aligning with the organisation may avoid speaking about growth or opportunities for promotion, as there's little indication that it may happen. If this is the case, you can enquire about potential career paths or ways to improve your skills. Asking these questions may demonstrate your commitment to professional growth, the role and the organisation.

8. Expression of concerns

The interviewer might tell you they have concerns about hiring you because of the answers you gave, some information from your resume or your level of experience. While this can feel like a sign of a bad interview, consider using it as an opportunity to respond to their areas of concern. Stay positive and expand on the topic they worry about. If you display professionalism and logical reasoning, you may remove their doubts and show your potential as a candidate.

9. Rushing through the interview

Rushing can be a sign that an interview isn't likely to result in an employment offer. Sometimes, the interviewer may not give you time to fully answer their questions, or you may feel they aren't listening to what you're saying. This could be because they've already selected an ideal candidate, or they're under pressure with other work deadlines. Aim to keep your answers short, accurate and full of the information you want the hiring manager to know. Preparing your responses in advance may help you make a good impression on the recruiter.

Related: How to Succeed in an Informal Interview (With Steps)

10. No questions about your availability

A hiring manager may not ask when you'd be available to start work. This may be a sign that the interview didn't go well or merely an interviewer's oversight. It can also happen if this information is available on your resume. Consider mentioning the dates of your availability at the end of the interview or in a follow-up email.

11. No follow-up questions on your answers

An interested interviewer often asks you to elaborate on the answers you give, as they want to hear what you have to say. An interviewer who passively listens to your responses without further comment may not view you as a suitable candidate. To solve this issue, attempt to answer questions in as much relevant detail as possible.

12. Few questions about your experience or skills

An interviewer who doesn't provide an opportunity for you to discuss your skills and experience may not see you as an adequate candidate for the position, judging by your initial interview answers. A recruiter who wants to know more about your skills or background may ask many questions about them, particularly if your abilities align with the job description. Aim to provide real-life examples of your skills by explaining how you contributed to your previous organisation.

13. No discussion regarding the next steps

When a hiring manager considers you as a candidate with potential, they usually discuss the next steps in the hiring process. If they end the meeting without mentioning any subsequent stages, it can be a sign that the interview didn't go according to plan. Consider thanking the interviewer for their time and asking them when and how you may follow up on the position.

Related: Follow-up Email Examples for After the Interview

Signs that an interview went well

Here are some signs that may indicate that your interview went well:

  • the interview lasts the full length of the allocated time.

  • you get to meet the team members you may work alongside.

  • the interviewer speaks about the specifics of the job.

  • the interviewer aims to interest you in the position and the organisation.

  • the hiring manager asks when you may be available to start work.

  • you receive proper, prompt answers to any follow-up emails you send.

  • you feel a good connection with the hiring manager.

  • the interviewer speaks of potential advancement within the organisation.

  • the interviewer asks you questions regarding your previous experience and skill set.


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