You did it – you got the interview. You may think the hard part is over, but don’t sit back and relax just yet. There’s a lot that can go wrong during an interview, and in many cases, small things that happen during the conversation can cost you the job.
So how do you know if your interview is going off the rails so that you can hope to turn it around? There are a few telltale signs you should look for.
1. They don’t try to sell you on the company.
Have you ever heard the expression “An interview is about you trying to get to know the company just as much as they’re trying to get to know you?” It’s true – you should be evaluating the company as they’re evaluating your experience and skills. But if you’re doing this and the interviewer isn’t working hard to sell you on the company’s good traits, it’s probably not a good sign. Companies want their chosen candidate to accept the job offer, so for their top picks, they’ll typically try to mention job perks, company culture, opportunities for growth, and other positives.
2. You’re only asked the easy questions.
This may seem counter-intuitive. After all, if the company likes you, why would they ask you the challenging questions? But interviewers ask tough questions to candidates they’re considering because they want to see how they think on their feet, and see how they will react to tough job situations. If they aren’t actually considering you, they’ll stick with the easiest questions to answer.
3. The interview never gets personal.
When interviewers are interested in a candidate, they will attempt to get to know them on a deeper level than questions like “What are your strengths?” can accomplish. They will often engage in chit-chat to make sure you’d be a good culture fit, and to make sure your personality will mesh well with other team members. If questions stay surface-level, there aren’t follow-up questions based on your answers, and the interviewer is cut-and-dry instead of diving into more personal questions, you’re probably not a top candidate.
4. There’s no mention of next steps.
Typically, at some point in the second half of the interview, the interviewer will bring up salary expectations, references, or follow-up interviews. Even if they don’t do this, they’ll at least tell you at what point you should hear back about moving forward with your candidacy, or the estimated time that they’re trying to fill the position. But if an interview ends without a discussion about what the next steps in the process are, it probably means there won’t be any.
So what can you do if you start seeing some of these signs throughout the interview? There’s a chance that you may not be able to turn it around if the interviewer has already made up their mind – but there are a few tactics you can employ to give yourself the best shot.
Remember that there’s a good chance the interviewer is having a busy day, has a million other things on his or her mind, or just doesn’t have a very friendly or engaging personality. By projecting confidence and positivity, you have a chance to turn around their first impression.
Ask great questions.
This approach has two potential benefits. One is that you can ask the interviewer outright if they think you’d be a good fit for the role – that way, if they bring up a specific concern they have with you or your experience, you have the chance to address it. Second, many recruiters and interviewers find that the type of questions a candidate asks say a lot about them. By asking insightful, thought-provoking questions, you may be able to increase the interviewer’s positive perception of you.
Think of it as practice.
Even if you feel pretty confident that you won’t get the job based on these signs, you can at least view the interview as good practice for a job that’s a better fit for you. Try your best, and make a mental note of what you can improve the next time.
Interviews are difficult, and no one likes knowing that their conversation isn’t going as well as they’d like. But by employing these tactics, you can have a better sense of what your interviewer is thinking, and attempt to course-correct to get the job.
About the author
Michelle Riklan gained extensive HR leadership experience at Fortune 500 companies such as Sony Entertainment and John Wiley & Sons. With a combined 20 years of in-house corporate and targeted consulting experience, Michelle currently services large corporations, small businesses, and individuals in all aspects of Human Resources and Career Management. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter or call her at 800.540.3609 for more information.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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