3 Signs Your Interview Isn’t Going In The Right Direction

Hiring managers look at job candidate after the interview didn't go well

Interviewing is nerve-wracking even in the best of circumstances. If you feel like you're under a microscope, it's because you are! Employers want to make sure that you can do the job. But, just as importantly, they want to determine if you can fit in with their team.

Likability is an intangible component of your interview, so how do you ensure that you come across as likable as well as competent? What do you do when your interview isn't going in the right direction?

The fact is that there is no magic formula. Your best bet is to prepare for the interview as well as you can. If the interview doesn't seem to be going well, you can try to pivot a little, but sometimes there is nothing you can do. If the interviewer has already made up their mind to go with another candidate and they're just going through the motions by interviewing you, that isn't on you.

These things do happen, though, perhaps more than we know. You need to be aware of what is going on during your interview so that you can try to adjust to the extent that you can.

Here are three signs your job interview isn't going well:

They Didn't Have A Good Reaction To Your Success Stories

Job candidate talks to hiring managers and realizes the interview isn't going well


You may have a story of a success that in the past has gotten nods of approval or smiles from your interviewer(s). If you tell the same story with the same zest and you don't get the same or similar reaction, it may mean that they aren't listening, didn't get the point of the story, or missed the importance of the success.

It could also be a sign that you have failed to connect with the interviewer from the start, and they aren't as attentive as you need them to be to get why you are the most qualified candidate.

They Seemed Bored And Distracted

Job candidate thinks the hiring managers/interviewers seem bored and distracted during his job interview


If the interviewer keeps looking at their phone or computer screen, they may be displaying a lack of interest in what you have to say, or they may just be distracted by something that is going on that is taking precedence over your interview. Perhaps they are monitoring an emergency situation, but they can't or don't share that with you. Or maybe they have just decided that they aren't going to hire you, so nothing you say will make a difference. Again, they are just going through the motions.

Without being rude yourself, there is little you can do to get them to pay attention to you unless you manage to get their attention with a witty remark or a humorous story. Everyone usually responds to humor if it is well-delivered and natural. Not everyone can pull that off, however, and it is especially challenging if you are nervous.

They Didn't Tell You About Next Steps Or Ask If You Have Questions For Them

If the interview has gone badly, interviewers won't ask if you have any questions for them and they won't offer what the next steps will be. If you ask and they seem vague or reluctant to tell you when they expect to fill the job, that is another sign that you probably aren't going to be considered as one of the finalists.

Sometimes circumstances are just out of your control, and there is nothing you can do to save an interview that isn't going well. As a post-interview exercise, you should consider—from hello to goodbye—how you believe you performed and what the reactions of your interviewer(s) were.

  • Did you fail to prepare properly?
  • Did you practice well enough beforehand that you were able to contain your nerves?
  • Were you prepared with the right kind of answers to the questions you were asked?
  • Were you concise in your responses or did you ramble?
  • Did you keep to the issue of your ability to do the job or did you veer off into the personal and wind up sharing too much?

If the interview has obviously gone bad and you are pretty sure you aren't going to receive an offer, chalk it up to good experience and move on. Learn from the experience. Avoid blaming the entire situation on the interviewer. Perhaps you could have done something to engage their interest and change their minds about you during the interview.

Take responsibility for your performance and try to figure out how you can improve moving forward. Learn from your mistakes, adjust your approach if necessary, and move on. Perhaps that job wasn't the best one for you anyway. Maybe not getting that job is a good thing. It frees you up for a better opportunity which may be just around the corner.

Interviews are a necessary part of every job search. Learn how to prepare. Learn how to handle your nerves. Practice with a friend or a coach until you hone the answers to the questions you are sure to be asked and can deliver them with confidence. Nothing replaces appropriate preparation, so if you do the work, you'll always see results. Your hard work will pay off, we promise!

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This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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