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How to tell your interview isn't going well (and what to do about it)

Oct 15, 2020

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There’s no doubt about it – the pandemic has dramatically changed the interviewing landscape.  

In the not too distant past, candidates prepared for in-person, on-site meetings to pitch their skills; now however, you’re more likely to get in front of your camera to interview via zoom instead.  

For some candidates, this interview setting may help keep their nerves in check when the hot seat is behind their own computer screen, yet for others, interviewing virtually comes with its own set of unique challenges – like trying to read the room through the chat screen 

Navigating the shifting interviewing landscape is a process for both candidates and hiring managers, yet the mutual goal remains the same: to find the right job fit.  

The next time you’re interviewing online, these signals will help tip you off to your candidacy being turned down.  

The interview is short 

A successful interview should last a minimum of 40 to 60 minutes. If it’s going really well, it can even last much longer and you'll meet with more than one interviewer.  
 
What to do:  When the interview is ending, put your pre-interview research to use and ask informed questions directly related to the company, position and culture. If the hiring manager wants to impress you, his or her answers will indicate their level of interest.   

You're walking on easy street 

Interviewers are trained to asked hard questions directly related to the job function. If you aren’t being asked these types of questions, it can indicate that you aren’t being seriously considered for the role.  

If you aren't given the opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills or how you think in each situation, the interviewer may not be convinced you have the must-have skills required.   
 
What to do: Steer the conversation towards your candidacy. Take the initiative to highlight your career milestones in correlation to the job description or company. In this scenario, it’s important to take a few seconds and provide a real-life work example and avoid using theory. 

Body language 

Body language speaks volumes. Does the interviewer seem distracted? Is there a lack of eye contact? Are they more interested in their phone than the conversation? Body language could be a number one indicator that the hiring manager isn't interested. 
 
What to do: Don't mirror the mannerisms.  Sit up straight, lean forward a little and speak clearly as you connect your experience to the role, company and culture. You want to maintain a respectful and professional demeanor; even if the interviewer doesn't think you're the right fit for their role, he or she may know of another opportunity. 

You aren't being sold 

If you aren’t hearing about why the company is such a great place to work, it may be because they don’t think you’re the right fit to be working there. It’s important to sell yourself and your skills, but when the interviewer finds the right fit for the role, it's also a part of their job to sell their company as an attractive option. 
 
What to do: Show your interest in the company by asking about things like the company culture, newsworthy events or new product launches or how they’re currently keeping their employees and contingent workers engaged while working remote. Do you want to work there? Make a list of motivation drivers and apply to positions at organizations that offer what you’re looking for.  

The silence is loud 

When there are long gaps in between questions or you feel like the interviewer is trying to think of what to ask next, it can be because he or she doesn’t know how to handle their lack of interest. Sure, it could be a hectic day, but if it seems like your resume is being viewed for the first time or your background is completely foreign to them, it could be because it is. 
 
What to do: Stay professional, confident and friendly - but don't stay silent. Use the gaps as an opportunity to highlight success scenarios or turn the conversation by asking informed questions of your own that can encourage a natural discussion.   

The interviewer doesn’t mention the next steps 

If an interviewer is interested in your candidacy, he or she will more than likely ask you when you’re available to start. Employers begin the hiring process when they need to bring talent quickly into their organization, and if there isn’t an interest in when you can begin the work, it could indicate that it’s the end of the process.  

What to do: If you still think you have a chance for the role, reiterate your interest in the position and ask what the next step would be. 

The interviewer offers some friendly advice 

If the interviewer offers some friendly advice on how you could be more qualified for the role, or how to become more involved in your chosen industry or profession, it most likely indicates you aren’t ready for the role just yet. 

What to do: Remain professional and thank the interviewer for their time. Follow up with a thank you email that includes any steps you’ve taking towards acting on their advice, and to keep you in mind for future opportunities.  
 
When it comes to job interviews, it's unlikely for an interviewer to provide candidates with feedback, but they will disclose the details to a recruiter – if you’re working with one If this is the scenario in your job search, ask your recruiter on the areas on which you can improve. 

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