Six subtle clues that your job interview really didn’t go very well

Here are some clear indicators to watch for in a job interview that you probably shouldn’t go home and wait by the phone. They’re not going to call. Actually, who waits by the phone anymore? It’s not mounted to the kitchen wall. You carry the phone in your pocket now. Anyway, you know what I mean. You’re not getting the job.

You aren’t going to be hired for every job that you interview for. That isn’t your fault, it’s just the way it works. Employers interview multiple candidates for each one that they hire. It’s not that the others were rejected; they just weren’t necessarily selected.

There are some telltale signs that you can watch for during the interview about which one you are going to be.

The worst bad interview story that I have ever heard was one where an employer wrote the candidate’s name down at the top of a blank page before beginning to ask questions. They took no other notes. About halfway through the interview, the employer picked up their pen and drew a line through the name. Ouch.

Okay, that’s a clear sign not to get your hopes up. However, most indications that your job interview isn’t going very well are more subtle than this.

Signs to watch for that you won’t be getting the job

    Your interview is too easy.

    This can seem like a good thing. The job interview is short and sweet and never makes you set. However, if the employer doesn’t genuinely try to determine your career goals, core credentials, and personality fit with the team, it can be an indicator that they’re not really serious about hiring you. Often this is because that there is an internal candidate or they’ve already made up their mind on who to hire and they’re just going through the motions with the other contenders.

    The same thing can be indicated when the employer shows a lack of interest. If they only seem to be half listening to what you have to say, take no notes, (or worse check their phone or email while you’re talking), you are probably not being seriously considered for the role.

    There’s no discussion of salary. Getting hired is really striking a deal between vendors. An employer is buying your skills and efforts with financial compensation. If the job interview ends with no talk at all about how much your skills and efforts will cost the company, it usually indicates that they’re not that serious about purchasing them.

    They don’t ask when you’re available to start. When employers are trying to fill a position, it’s because they need someone. If they don’t ask when you would be able to come onboard and start helping out, they probably don’t think you are the one to meet that need. (This oversight is so blatant that it can actually be a deliberate sign that you shouldn’t expect an offer.)

    You’re offered some helpful career advice. This can seem like a nice, friendly moment in an otherwise formulaic, corporate encounter, but really it’s the kiss of death. The employer asks about where you’re trying to go with your career and offers you some tips as to what experience, education, or skills you should acquire in order to get there. This means you’re not there yet.

    You don’t talk about the next steps in the hiring process. You’re rarely offered the job on the spot at the job interview. Usually, the employer has to review their notes, compare opinions with other stakeholders and get back to candidates in the next week or so. However, the interview should always end with a discussion of the next steps: when you should expect to hear back from them, who else potential candidates will have to meet, and you should be asked for references.

    If the interview ends with the employer just saying something like, “Hey, thanks for coming in. It was great meeting you, best of luck out there …” you’re not getting hired. I actually respect this kind of definitive not-going-to-happen ending over the passive aggressive false hope of stringing a candidate along.

    (Why make a job seeker prepare their references for a phone call that’s not going to come? Let them off the hook as soon as you know they’re not the one.)

No matter how well or poorly you feel the interview went, always send a thank-you note. Thanking someone for taking the time to meet with you is just good manners. Even in the event of a bad interview, you want to take the high road. Restate your interest in the job, and say that you’d be happy to meet again to discuss some ideas you have for being successful at it. Wish them the best of luck with their hiring.

Even if you’re not hired, you’ll still be making a friendly, professional impression. In today’s job market where people move from position to position increasingly rapidly, your professional reputation is valuable currency on the job market.

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