How to Tell If an Interview Went Bad (And What to Do Next)

Most people think that it’s hard to determine how well (or how bad) you performed during a job interview. However, there are subtle cues that could tell you how it went.

Here’s how to tell if an interview went bad, as discussed by experts.

Table of Contents

Ron Auerbach, MBA

Ron Auerbach

Educator | Career Coach | Job Search Expert | Author, Think Like an Interviewer: Your Job Hunting Guide to Success

The interviewer doesn’t seem overly interested or excited

This is a possible sign that you’re boring him or her. Or you’re just not the right fit for whatever reason.

What you need to do is figure out what it is or was specifically that seemed to turn off the interviewer. This way, you can adjust the course if in the middle of the interview to try and save it.

Or if it’s afterward, you can make sure you don’t do this again with your next interview.

Everything appeared to be going well but then took a sudden or gradual turn for the worse

And it wasn’t anything the interviewer had said or done. Instead, it was something on your part that caused it.

It’s extremely important that you are keeping a very watchful eye on the interviewer to properly read them and adjust accordingly.

Missing important body language can easily result in your blowing the interview! And misreading it can also do the same. In other words, you though his or her reaction was a positive one when, in reality, it was negative.

You need to make sure you’re reading the interviewer correctly. And if you messed up last time around, don’t do it the next time!

Eye contact is not being or was maintained on you

It’s perfectly normal for an interviewer to look away at times. But if you are finding a lot more of this or it’s growing longer and longer, it could be a sign that you’re just not impressing or possibly turning them off.

So you have to take action during your interview to gain the interviewer’s attention and eye contact. That could be your taking a pause, changing course in terms of what you’re saying, or even asking the interviewer something to break that tension.

Your interviewer went from being more “warm and friendly” to behaving “colder and more distant”

That’s a sign you either said or did something that isn’t making him or her happy. So if you notice this during the interview, you need to think about what you’re and have been saying and doing to see what it might be that’s not impressing or upsetting the interviewer.

Change course right away!

If you didn’t pick up on this during the interview, then next time around, you need to pay more attention to interviewer mood changes.

And immediately adjust what you’re saying and/or doing if you notice the interviewer’s mood go from more positive, upbeat., and friendly to negative, cold, and distant.

Your interview time is cut short

And it’s not because some kind of an emergency came up or you really impressed them. So when you’re just not coming across the way they would like, or you’re just not what they’re looking for, they may shorten your interview time.

It’s important for you to make sure you’re doing your very best to impress them straight through!

And even if you’re not the right one for the job for whatever reason, still be perceived as somebody may be of value in another role or in the future.

Something that will allow them to continue the interview and learn even more about you or probe about possibly other employment within the company.

They give you little, if any information about the company and/or the job

This can be a sign that you’re just not somebody they feel is right or worth the effort.. So they do their best to avoid discussing it or won’t go into much detail.

Yes, you may not be the right one for that job for whatever reason. But does this mean you won’t be of value to them in another capacity or in the future? No! So it’s important you sell them on this aspect to either keep your interview alive.

The interviewer is just rehashing what’s already been said or gone over

In other words, instead of moving onward, they’re treading water just to fill the remaining time.

Here, it’s important that you raise something that will take the interview in a new and positive direction. And provide yourself and the interviewer with something new to discuss.

It’s even an opportunity for you to provide something you had brought yet haven’t shown yet. Something both you and the interviewer can discuss where you can highlight your capabilities, work quality, and thinking.

Damian Birkel

Damian Birkel

HarperCollins Leadership Author | Founder & Executive Director, Professionals In Transition

Listen to your gut

Your gut will tell you whether you had a good interview or a bad interview. Try not to beat your self up too badly. There’s plenty of people out there that will be glad to whip you and make you feel even worse.

What to do when you just had a bad interview?

Understand that interviewers have their own set of attitudes

Understand that thousands of things outside your interview that could dramatically color the person’s attitude that you are interviewing with.

They could have just been screamed at by their boss, in a cold sweat because right before the interview found out that a desperately needed, critical order will not arrive, maybe going through a nasty divorce and just lost custody of the kids, or perhaps, are just back at work after the loss of their spouse.

Maybe you remind them of someone they hate. Don’t worry about things you can’t control.

Do an immediate debriefing

Be sure to write down all of the names of the people that you interviewed with. Hopefully, you were able to exchange business cards at your meeting so that you have all of the necessary contact information to follow up with a thank-you note to them directly.

Write a brief description of each person who interviewed you, and your overall opinion of how their part of your interview went.

Note their position any special interest that may have come up during that time. Think about the questions they asked you, and how you answered them.

Asked a question you could not remember, or didn’t know? Find the answer. You’ll need it, because you will be sending them your answer.

If you were in a panel interview, determine who the leader was in the room. This is the person that all members of the interview will usually look at as they “guage” your answer to their questions.

Many times they will be at the head of the table or (if not in the meeting room) they will usually choose their seat before others and sit down. When walking, the leader is usually walking at least a step or two ahead of the others.

Make sure you send a thoughtful letter appropriate to their level. Invite them to link in. (and everyone else you interviewed with).

Now is the time to mention common connections. Call them, and request that they call the leader to reinforce your name.

Write a thank-you email after the interview

The best way to repair a bad interview is to send a “T-square thank you note.”

The first paragraph will talk about how much you enjoyed interviewing for the position. Sincerely thank them, regardless of whether you really want the job.

It will make an excellent impression and you may get called back for another position or referred in the future.

Be sure to mention something specific about the person you are writing to. You can research them through LinkedIn.

The second paragraph will say “We talked about a lot of things during the interview. However, I’d like to take a quick moment of your time to review my abilities versus the requirements of the job.”

Insert a two-column table of their job requirements versus your abilities. Copy and paste the requirements of the job in the first table using a bullet as originally posted.

Go through and match your abilities to their requirements line by line. If there is a requirement that you do not meet, leave it out.

In the final paragraph answer any questions that may have thrown you for a loop. The next time, instead of panicking, and your mind goes blank, pause and say: “That’s a great question. I need a minute to think about it.” Nine out of ten times, it’s just enough time to come up with an answer.

Conclude with the phrase; “You will hear from me shortly.” You’ve just given yourself permission to call them back.

Alan Guinn

Alan Guinn

CEO and Managing Director, The Guinn Consultancy Group, Inc.

I believe you can tell if any interview went bad from a number of items– especially from questions posed and answers given by the interviewer. Not necessarily the interviewee. One can generally read the cards and assume the outcome.

The interview questions should be focused on the candidate

Are the questions being asked by the interviewer focused on you, as the candidate, or are they more general purpose, throw-away questions?

Keep in mind that if you were called in for a face to face interview, something in your resume, or an initial telephone screening, or someone you know inside the company, or someone who knew someone inside the organization, believed in you and believed that you deserved to be interviewed, so you’ve already fought and won 80% of the battle–you got in front of someone who is either a decision-maker or a gatekeeper.

Ideally, you want the interviewer to ask open ended questions, where you as the interviewee can insert situations in which you have resolved challenges that highlight your good points in similar situations as posed by the interviewer.

More often than not, I’ve found unprepared interviewers ask questions which may not even be relevant.

Example: As an interviewer, I’m seeking a Sales Manager for a $25M Company. I’m going to ask Sales and Sales Organizational Questions. But if I’ve only focused in HR in my career, either I’m going to guess whether someone can fit in with the other top performers in the group, or I’m interviewing against a list of questions I’ve been given, with some basis for answers to be received.

If I’m allotted an hour, and 45 minutes into the interview, the interviewer hasn’t turned the process over to me to answer questions, something isn’t clicking in the interview. That interview has “gone poorly.”

How do you analyze what went wrong?

The first question I would always ask myself would focus on interpersonal awareness and responsiveness between the parties in the interview.

Was there eye contact when the discussion was ongoing? Generally, as the interviewer, when I asked an interview question, I’d listen to the candidate’s answer. But the second and third sentences often told me more about their knowledge of and abilities to fill the position for which they were interviewing than their snap response.

It often told me of their ability to get along with other employees, both peer and subordinate employees. Look, if you know you have a big interview coming up, you and everyone else will read a book or an online posting, or watch a YouTube video about interviewing and how to do it.

But what you read or see won’t tell you how to prepare for questions in which you, sitting in a room, with an interviewer–or multiple interviewers–pepper you with questions about your specific area of expertise. If you have that conversation ongoing, the interview is going well.

If you’re asked simple “yes” or “no” questions, without any “meat on the bone,” the interview may not be going well

Don’t try to only give “yes” or “no” answers. While they may give you great comfort that you’re doing well–trust me–you probably aren’t.

So can you turn it around?

In seminars I’ve done in HR, I’ve been a staunch advocate for the interviewee turning around an interview that isn’t going well.

Yes, you can do it without coming across as overbearing and pushy. If you sense it isn’t going well, believe me, it’s probably not. So what do you lose if you can turn it around? Nothing. So let’s turn it around.

Transition a question from a rote question to a story

I’m a huge proponent of stories. Stories were the initial way that history was communicated, so use your talents that have been shaped in civilization…shaped for thousands of years, even if you haven’t used them before in your lifetime.

When a question is asked that is in your wheelhouse, respond with the yes or no that you know the interviewer is seeking, but then go a step farther.

Think of a situation where you understood the issue, corrected the issue, took the initiative to solve a problem, understood the relative outcomes which could create a better situation for the employer, and tell THAT story.

How much money did it save your employer? How did it increase profitability and did it become an ongoing opportunity?

If you are asked a boring, worthless, and throwaway question similar to ‘tell me a situation where you resolved a particular problem for your previous employer,” it’s time to layout the problem all the way to the bone.

Don’t speak immediately. Gather your thoughts. Be sure to follow a logical order in solving the problem.

Assess what you were able to share throughout the interview

Any absolute answer to whether it went bad? You bet. Think about this formula.

  • You want to speak about “who” you are and what you are all about for about “25%” of the time.
  • You want to speak about what you’ve done “25%” of the time.
  • You want to speak to what you can do based on your knowledge of the organization and the position for which you are interviewing “40%” of the time.
  • You want to have questions prepared to ask the interviewer about the organization, in the balance–“10%”–of the time.

Did you approximate this guideline? If so, you communicated those things necessary in a timely and, hopefully, professional manner. If you didn’t, something went wrong.

Reach out to the interviewer

Of course, there are some other options, too. Let’s say the interview crashed and burned. You know it crashed and burned.

Honesty is sometimes the best policy. You can write a nice email and say, “You know, last Tuesday was a really bad day for me. I certainly couldn’t have come across as the candidate you were seeking. Without going into a lot of reasons why it was a bad day, I truly believe that there could be a fit between us, and I’d like to see if we might rekindle that spark.”

Does this work? Maybe 25% of the time. But if you know you crashed and burned, what do you have to lose?

Betty Kempa, CPC, ELI-MP

Betty Kempa

Executive Career Change Coach

Closed body language and lack of eye contact

If your interviewer has closed body language (arms crossed or is turned away from you) and lack of eye contact, try to get them to connect with you on a personal level. This will help take their guard down and re-focus on you.

They told you they have concerns about your ability to do the job

It’s actually a good thing they stated this up front versus behind your back once you went home. This gives you the opportunity to state your case.

Share examples of times you did what they are concerned about in a previous job using SCAR format (Situation, Challenge, Action, Result.) Lean on transferable skills if needed.

You struggled to answer some of their questions

Lean into the “thank you” letter. State, “I thought more about your question on XYZ topic and wanted to share some further insights. {State your well-thought out answer here.}”

The hiring manager cuts the interview short

Don’t get frazzled. Smile and thank them for their time. Try saying, “I know you are extremely busy, but would it be possible to schedule a time to continue this conversation so I can learn a bit more about the position and what you are looking for.”

If they really push back on that request, you could simply ask one last question, “Thank you so much for your time. Before I go, do you have any concerns about my ability to do the role?”

That way you can address those concerns in the moment and again in your thank you letter.

The hiring manager doesn’t mention “next steps” or introduce you to the rest of the team

Be proactive in stating, “I’m very interested in the position. What’s the next step?”

You could even take it a step further stating, “I’d love to learn more about the company culture. Would it be possible to connect with someone on my team so that I might learn more?”

Ana Agneshwar

Ana Agneshwar

Founder, Andro

Here are 4 signs that give away that the interview is going badly and how to fix it in the moment:

The interviewer cuts the interview short

Ask if you can take a few more minutes to share a bit more about something relevant to the job or ask some additional questions.

The interviewer does not ask follow-up questions to your answers

If you notice they are not asking follow-up questions, then take the initiative to give detailed responses upfront. Or if you feel like something important was missed go back to them by using redirecting phrases:

  • “If you don’t mind, I’d like to just go back to something we were talking about earlier….”
  • “I’d just like to add some more color on my experience with ….”
  • “We weren’t able to cover this earlier but let me just emphasize….”

The interviewer is distracted during the interview

If the interviewer is distracted during the interview, make eye contact and ask them a question such as “What do you like about the company or your team or culture?”

People love to talk about themselves. Alternatively, if they are taking calls in the midst of stepping out of the office to speak to people you can give them an out such as, “It looks like you have a lot on your plate, would you like to reschedule the interview?”

Use this strategy thoughtfully and with an empathetic tone. This will prompt them to be present or there’s a fire they have to put out and may appreciate your gesture.

The interviewer does not share details about next steps

If they are not sharing details of the next steps, do not leave the interview without sharing your enthusiasm about the company.

Most importantly if you have connections within the company that can serve as references, this is the time to offer it up. Briefly share with them who they are, what their role is, and how you know them.

Also, offer up references of anyone you know that works in the company. This often turns a superficial “no” to a “maybe”. Or a “maybe” into a “yes”.

Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., PHR Emeritus

Timothy G. Wiedman, DBA, PHR Emeritus

Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired)

You discussed politics within the interview

Discussing Politics Can ‘Sink’ An Interview! (I personally made this huge mistake as a very young college instructor while I was interviewing for a better faculty position.)

In mid-January of 1992, I was a “finalist” interviewing for a faculty position at a large, well-known university located in the Midwest. The on-campus portion of the interview ran most of the day; so we broke for lunch, and I ate with two faculty members and the department chair in the university’s main cafeteria.

Bill Clinton had recently become the front-runner in the race for the Democrat nomination for the presidency after Mario Cuomo had dropped out just before Christmas. And, since we were nearing the start of the political “primary season,” one of the faculty members brought up the subject.

Knowing that I was in a so-called “red state,” I consciously tried to be careful about what I contributed to the discussion. Unfortunately, I was not careful enough.

As I recall I said something like, “While I’ve always voted Republican in the past, Clinton seems like a different sort of Democrat. I seriously doubt that I’d vote for him, but I’d like to know more about his record as governor of Arkansas and his in-depth views on pressing national issues.”

The table went silent for several seconds– although, to me, it seemed like an eternity. Then the department chair (who I later learned had been an Army officer and had served in Vietnam) turned to me and said, “I believe that the most important thing a President does is keep the country safe. And that takes a strong military with strong leadership. I doubt that a draft-dodger like Clinton is fit to be our Commander-in-Chief.”

The chilly treatment that I received throughout the afternoon seemed noticeably different from the morning sessions. And, while I can’t say that my Clinton comment caused the change, I can say that I wasn’t hired.

Related: What Not to Say in a Job Interview

Erica McCurdy, CMC, PCC, CBC, YPF

Erica McCurdy

Life Coach | Founder, McCurdy Solutions Group, LLC

I can’t tell you how many times a client thought they bombed the interview only to end up with the job!

Feelings aren’t facts and all too often what happens in the interview and what results in a job offer are far less related than we want to believe.

However, there are some things that might be clues that the interview was less than successful.

  • Being told directly that you do not have the requisite qualifications for the position.
  • Being told that the company already has someone in mind for the position.
  • Having the interview cut short.
  • Being cut off in the middle of your answers.
  • Noticing that the interviewer is answering texts or is otherwise distracted.
  • Experiencing long periods where neither of you has nothing to share.

Related: Signs You Didn’t Get the Job After Interview

What to do next? If you still want the position, do the same things you would do if the interview went well with one exception:

The same day, even better, within the hour, call the interviewer and be honest about how you feel the interview went.

Let them know that you think you “blew it” and would like another shot at the interview if they are willing to give you another chance to meet (virtually or otherwise).

I have had clients who have taken this step and have not only been given another interview but have subsequently been hired for the position.

Within 24 hours, send a thank you email to the interviewer and the recruiter (if applicable) for their time.

Calendar two additional follow-up dates to send a follow-up email and letting them know of your continued interest.

In each of these follow-up emails, provide additional value by including an article or link that is relevant to the position, industry, or a problem you discussed in the interview.

Michael D. Brown

Michael D. Brown

Global Management and Recruitment Expert | Director, Fresh Results Institute

A failed interview hurts but it is crucial youknow so you take the next steps promptly, even speeding up your mental recovery process.

Here are some signals of a failed interview:

The interviewer doesn’t care much about you personally

One way to tell a successful or failed interview is the keennessof the interest the interviewer particularly has in you particularly.

If he keeps the talk generic, without delving into your specific skillset, work experience and psychologicalmakeup, it is a glaring signal to thefact that the interview isn’t working.

Watch out for the body language of the interviewer

Does it appear he is just trying to pass time with you? What is the level or frequency of eye contact? I am not going to spare you much eye contact as an interviewer if I am not envisaging you in the advertised role.

The interviewer appears disinterested in the interview

Is he regularly staring at the clock, repeatedly asking you the same questions, or appear to be flipping at his paperwork and your resume all the time?

Yes, and the interview is going badly.

Your interviewer is redundant when you ask him about the role

You can measure the progression of a successful (or failed)interview from the enthusiasm of the interviewer. This enthusiasm is typically reflected in the eagerness with which he answers your questions, typically those that concern the job.

If he appears to shrug off your questions or isn’t disposed to telling you the details of the role, it appears the interview has gone badly.

In most cases, the interviewer would have decided that you are not the best fit for the position and don’t have any need to tell you more about the job or answer your questions about it.

In such situations, you don’t have much to lose anymore. You can boldly ask the interviewer his reservations about you.

An honest interviewer would tell you and you can appropriately clear his doubts there before leaving.

Adam Sanders

Adam Sanders

Director, Successful Release

It feels like an interrogation instead of a conversation

Whenever an interview feels like you’re being interrogated instead of having a conversation with another professional things aren’t going well.

It isn’t always the case, but if your interviewer is clearly just going through a list of questions without straying from the list it’s a bad sign.

No follow up questions

When an interviewer is genuinely interested in you as a candidate they are going to ask a lot of questions based on your answers.

If you find yourself in an interview where a question is asked, you respond, and then the interviewer moves on to a completely different question without any comment on your answer things are not going well.

The interview ends early

Hiring is a difficult process and it’s very hard to get good information about solid candidates in order to make the best decision possible.

Many hiring managers are quick to move on from candidates they’re not interested in during the interview process as a result.

If you find yourself in an interview that ends much earlier than expected it usually means that you are a perfect candidate, or more likely, that the interviewer doesn’t feel like you’re a good fit.

Here are some suggestions on what you can do about it:

Follow up on a job application

As the interview ends ask your interviewer for their card or contact information. Then, follow up when you get home and let them know it was great to meet them and that you’re still very interested in the position.

This little act is rare and can set you apart from other candidates even if your interview wasn’t great.

Try to find a referral

A great way to overcome a poor interview is to have someone within the company put in a good word for you. Most companies have referral programs where existing employees can recommend people that they feel like would be worth hiring.

When you’re applying to a company you’re really interested in, take some time to think if you have any connections to existing employees there. The connection doesn’t have to be particularly strong, it can be anyone from your school, social network, church, neighborhood, etc. that you can reach out to.

Set up some time to ask for their advice on how to get hired and then don’t be afraid to ask if they’ll refer you. This is a fantastic way to stand out and overcome a bad interview, especially for competitive positions.

Keeping applying

The most important thing to do after a bad interview is to keep applying elsewhere. Finding a great new position is always a challenging process and typically takes several interviews before you find the right fit.

Accept that it’s a numbers game and get right back to it. Even the best-qualified people out there don’t get every job they apply for because a lot of the hiring process is outside of your control.

Nancy Medoff

Nancy Medoff

Founder & Principal, AthenaWise

You prepped for days, rehearsed, lined up all your questions in advance, and then boom. Not so good. The interview is just going badly.

If you’re feeling is that something is off, it usually is. While no one wants to admit this, sometimes you just aren’t going to get the position.

We’ve listed a few indicators below for when this happens so that if you do see any of these signs, you can course correct and try to salvage the interview.

Body language from the interviewer

Watch for typical “I’m not interested in” body cues such as:

  • Arms crossed
  • Interviewer multi-tasking while you’re speaking
  • Interviewer fidgeting
  • Shuffling of papers in the background
  • Sighs
  • The interviewer looks bored and is not engaging other than “yes, ok and thank you”.

Time is cut short

If the schedule called for an hour, and ten minutes into that hour the interviewer is wrapping up, chances are not a fit and the interviewer wants to get on with their day.

Interviewer says nothing about the job, the company or a timeframe

If this happens, don’t be afraid to ask. If the response is generic and/or very brief- chances are you’re not being considered.

Remember, bombing the interview is not always a bad thing. You want a job where the fit is right, you’ll like your company and thrive in the position.

The interview is a great opportunity to identify if you’re a fit, and if you’re not – it’s better to know early on where you stand than to wait it out for weeks, worrying. Then you can focus on the next one!

Monique Mollere

Monique Mollere

Senior Vice President, Talascend

Here are the signs the interview went bad:

  • Unable to answer the questions the interviewer asks.
  • No rapport with the interviewer.
  • You feel extremely nervous and it is coming across in how you communicate with the interviewer.
  • The interview ends with no plan for follow up.

So, now that its over, what can you do? The best advice is to prepare better for your next interview.

An interview is a two-way street, it is your opportunity to see if this is a job and a company you may be interested in working for and for the interviewer to see if you are qualified for the job and a good cultural fit for the company.

While you are being interviewed it is also your opportunity to participate in asking questions so you leave knowing if this is a role you want.

Prepare! Know about the company and check LinkedIn to learn about the interviewer.

Is there something in their profile that is a common bond – did you graduate from the same university, do their volunteer activities match up with your interests, etc.

If you meet in person then look around the office – pics of family, sports team memorabilia, etc. Try to connect and notice what they have on display.

If you are doing a video interview try to connect based on information about the company or something on their LinkedIn profile.

Practice answering common interview questions so that you are confident in your answers and how to tell your story, your experiences are unique to you, practice communicating, this helps with interview anxiety. If you are interested, ask for the next steps!

Always keep in mind, not every job is the right job for you personally, there is power in that. Taking the time to find the right opportunity and match is better in the long run and you make that decision as much as the interviewer does.

Christina Garidi

Christina Garidi

Purpose & Career Coach, Eudaimonia Coaching UK

When the interviewer does not maintain eye contact. Maintain your eye contact or distribute your eye contact if you have more than one interviewer.

Their tone of voice is not engaging. Variate and animate your own tone of voice to “wake them up” to your presence, especially when interviewing through Zoom / Skype.

They close the interview too early. Ask if they have time for your questions.

When they do not commit to or explain next steps. Ask specifically about “What happens next?”

They keep mentioning about other candidates. The interviewer is trying to increase pressure. Reinforce your calm and whilst you respect others, show you are not threatened by them (your worth is irrespective of others).

When you feel you cannot open up. Breathe in several times (remember that the calmest person in the room is the most powerful!). If you cannot “ease your guard” this simply might not be a company culture for you to thrive in.

They pick on your weaknesses and gaps in your CV/resume or skills. Don’t take it personally, they want you to explain and see how comfortable you are with them and how you cope with challenges.

Here is an example of a completed 4S Resilience Plan for a job interview that went bad (did not get the job). See it as an Emergency Plan to turn to automatically, if the worst happens.

Support that keeps you sane (you can be yourself)

  • Call my partner.
  • Call my mum.
  • Book an appointment with my career coach.

Sagacity that gives you comfort and hope (thoughts of wisdom)

  • Remember that growth comes from discomfort.
  • “This too shall pass” sticky note on the fridge.
  • Think about what I could do differently next time and write them down on paper for my next interview.

Strategies that keep you going (habits to find peace and cope)

  • Go for a walk
  • Smile
  • Mind meditation app
  • Calming breathing technique
  • Play with my cat
  • Do some gardening
  • Write in my gratitude journal

Solution-seeking behaviours to propel you into action

  • Ask for feedback from job interviewers.
  • Apply for three more new jobs.
  • Seek professional career coaching for job interviewing.

Chad Hill

Chad Hill

CMO, Hill and Ponton Law

Interviews can be unnerving even to those confident applicants and there are times that once the interview has done, they assess themselves that they could do and said better to make the interview better.

Below listed are some of the indications that your interview didn’t go well as you plan:

Your unsatisfied guts will haunt you

We, as humans, have this instinct that never goes wrong especially whenever there are instances that didn’t go well or didn’t go as planned which is why we keep on having some actions on how to deal with it.

You know the interview didn’t go well or against your favor when you’re feeling of unsatisfaction haunts you after the interview and could keep you awake questioning yourself where did you go wrong.

The hiring manager lost interest in asking you and your interview was done for a short while

Some hiring managers are not good at hiding certain emotions especially when she’s lost interest in interviews.

Usually, hiring managers has to keep their interest level at least half the time to keep the engagement between the two parties going great that it could raise a lot of questions that lead in a productive interview.

However, once the interviewer lost their interest, the interviewee will feel the visibility of the situation because the interview will get done as fast as a five-minute call.

The feedback “we will call you if you qualify”

It could be the usual line we hear every after interview from the hiring manager, but sometimes this line is used as a good riddance for managers to excuse themselves and to conclude the interview meeting.

The applicant will wait for a week and sometimes those who have heard this line didn’t make it to the company.

Related: How Long Does It Take to Get a Job Offer After an Interview

Michael Roche

Michael Roche

Co-founder & Head Of Recruitment, Educating Abroad

The recruiter or hiring manager do not mention the next stage

When I have reflected on my previous successful interviews against my unsuccessful interviews as a candidate (and to be fair, even as a recruiter when interviewing candidates). I have always found a tell-tale sign that an interview has gone badly, is how the interview ends.

To give you a better understanding, let me give you two scenarios I have personally experienced. The first scenario signifies the interview went badly compared to other scenario that ended up in a job offer:

Scenario 1 Interviewer: “Ok that’s the end of the interview, thank you very much for your time. We will be in touch and let you know the outcome.”

Now you might think that the above is normal and how an interview ends? And you are right, it is especially if you have not been successful…

Think back to when one of your interviews ended like this and you were successful in securing another interview or getting the role? Quite rare right?

I find this scenario is typical if I/you have not wowed them as a candidate or I would use it to those who I haven’t been wowed by as a recruiter/ hiring manager.

Scenario 2 Interviewer: “Ok that’s the end of the interview. Thank you very much for your time…I hope it was not too difficult for you? If I haven’t scared you off, I would like to introduce you to my manager/director as part of the next stage, would you be available later this week if I could schedule it?”

As you can see, if they like you, they like you and they will let you know they like you!

What should you do if you end up with scenario 1? The good news is, it is not all lost from here and you do have a chance to change the outcome.

The best way I have found to do this is crafting a great interview follow up email.

Think about the interview and try to identify what questions you felt you answered weakly. Start off with the pleasantries and thank them for their time. Also mention that you had a great interview experience.

“Although I had a wonderful experience, I couldn’t help kicking myself when I left. I felt I could have answered question X better and that I should have highlighted to you what I had done at my previous company such as:

List achievement 1
List achievement 2
List achievement 3

I hope my answer didn’t affect my chances of a further interview with ABC Company Because ABC is a company I would love to work for. I believe if I am invited back for a further interview then there is a lot more I can share to show you that I am the best person to help [company name] achieve the heights and goals they are wanting to achieve.”

Now It does not always work, but it gives you at least a fighting chance to keep you in the frame and the process in the hopes that you can wow them in your next interview.

Angela Watts, SHRM-CP, RACR, CCTC

Angela Watts

Dual Certified HR Professional | Certified Career Transition Coach | Executive Resume Writer, My Pro Resumes

Most interviewers will attempt to end an interview on a positive note, whether or not they are considering you for the position. This can make it challenging to determine if an interview went well or not.

An interviewer who is seriously considering you will:

  • Ask a lot of questions.
  • Want examples of the skills and attributes you claim to possess.
  • Be open to sharing information about the team or company.

If you’ve bombed the interview, you may notice the following:

  • Indicators of interviewer discomfort (crossed arms, feet turned away from you, unsteady eye contact, bouncing legs).
  • The interview comes to an abrupt end.
  • The interviewer is hesitant to discuss the next steps in the process. If you become aware of these signs during the interview, it may be advantageous to take stock and ask “are there any areas of fit for this role that I haven’t yet satisfied”.

If you don’t recognize the signs until you’ve left the interview, a “thank you” email can be the prime opportunity to reiterate your value proposition and to cover any key points that were missed.

Tara Bethell, EMBA, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, RYT-200

tara bethell

Founder & CEO, Copper Quail Consulting

Identify how or why the interview went bad before crafting a recovery strategy

It is always best practice to send a follow up thank you email and/or snail mail card (depending on when they plan to make a decision) after the interview and this can be a great place to start with your recovery.

Here are a few suggestions:

If you forgot to mention pertinent information during the interview about your passion for the work or your skillset, include this information in the thank you email/card noting that you appreciated their time and wanted to be sure they are aware of X, Y, Z items that you didn’t have a chance to mention earlier.

If you noticed the interviewer(s) did not provide a lot of positive feedback through body language or comments, still send the thank you email with genuine thanks, they may just be a reserved group.

If you said something off-color that struck the interviewer(s) as offensive, you will have a hard time recovering, still send that thank you email and mention that you are so excited about this opportunity .

Apologize for saying something off-color, and assure them it will not happen again if you are selected as the successful candidate. This shows you are willing to open up to something you mess up.

Notes that are honest, heartfelt, and not over-the-top are going to be the best ways to start a recovery process if you feel you missed an opportunity during the interview. Sending flowers, food, or other items after an interview might appear too over-the-top as well.

However, if you picked up on something specific that the interviewers or company is really into and it is not super costly, you might want to send that along with your card or right after your email to show that you are still interested and you understand their culture.

Kylie Cimmino, SHRM-SCP

Kylie Cimmino

Consultant, Red Clover HR

The Rolling Stones put it well, singing “You can’t always get what you want”.

When it comes to interviewing we can prepare and plan with the best of intentions, but occasionally things don’t go as we’d like. Sometimes life throws you a curveball and all you can do is react and adjust.

Now how do you know when an interview hasn’t gone to plan?

  • I’m sure we all get that gut feeling when something doesn’t go as expected, that inkling is the first sign of a bad interview.
  • You might also notice a shift in body language, abrupt shortness in conversation, or a sense of indifference in the mood.
  • Depending on the organization or the interviewer, maybe the interview gets cut short. They might just let you know they aren’t interested.

One thing is for certain, while you may not immediately know if it goes alright, you will know when something has gone bad.

Bad interviews happen, but what can you do about it? There are a few suggestions I can make on how to recover from a bad interview.

Take a deep breath and a step back, you are probably feeling rejected and upset and that’s normal. Once you’re in a better state of mind, review what happened.

When did the dynamic shift? Can you tell me what or when things went wrong? Could you have prepared more? Is the situation salvageable? If yes, how? Can you reach out and clarify something that may have been misunderstood? Is an apology necessary?

If it isn’t something you can come back from take a look at yourself and think about how you can adjust things for your next interview, use it as a learning experience.

It’s okay if you have a bad interview, but turn it into an opportunity to improve for next time.

You will have bad days, bad interviews, and things won’t always go as you think they should. It’s how you react and come back from those not so great moments that shape you.

There is always another opportunity you can chase or a chance to start over. One bad interview doesn’t define who you are.

Matt Erhard

Matt Erhard

Managing Partner, Summit Search Group

You can tell immediately if an interview went bad in two obvious ways:

Lack of connection with the person interviewing you

Interviews are about creating meaningful connections and showcasing not only how successful you’d be in the job but also how well you’d fit in with the team and the company culture.

If you feel that conversation was lacking or that there was a lack of response to your answers, things might not have gone well.

Interviews these days are more conversational in nature and if the interviewer took few notes or didn’t comment or acknowledge your answers things may not have gone well.

The interview is short

Sometimes it’s hard to know how long the interview should have been, but if you weren’t able to give them an entire overview of your career, accomplishments, and what value you can bring to the table, they may have cut the interview short.

What’s truly important is how you handle the post-interview. If it went really bad, the best thing to do is to acknowledge this with them and ask them if there’s an opportunity to meet again or jump on a phone call.

Make sure to follow up always. This is something that so few people are doing lately that it goes a long way. It also gives you the opportunity to reinforce things you said or to provide additional insight or examples of how you feel you would excel in this role.

Zhen Tang

Zhen Tang

Chief Operating Officer, AiLaw

You are unable to answer multiple questions

There are many ways to respond to interview questions, but silence is definitely not one of them.

If the question asked during the interview were unexpected that you were unable to answer multiple time of them at all, it’s unlikely that you were the eligible candidate for the job.

The interviewer doesn’t make eye contact with you

If the InterviewerInterviewer is not connecting with you smiling and delving deeper into your responses with further questions, it might be possible that the interview may not be going well.

It may be some of the other reasons like the Interviewer not engaged with his conversation with you, that you have less confidence or seem underwhelming as a job seeker.

The interview ends abruptly

It is difficult for anyone to estimate the approximate interviewing duration of the organization. But if your interview seems to end abruptly, it lasted less than a half-hour, it might be a sign that the team has already ruled you out.

If you did not respond well, the chances are even greater that they will not select you.

The interview will not ask how soon you can start

If you leave the interview and nobody asked how soon you could start, it might be possible that your interview went bad, and you might not be a suitable candidate for the position.

Here’s what to do next:

  • You should identify where went wrong and schedule time with yourself to work on problem areas.
  • Contact with the employer or hiring manager via email for feedback.
  • You should practice in advance next and practice answering those questions in the mirror before the interview.
  • Go over your interview responses and specifically those that relate to past roles and employers.

Yaniv Masjedi

Yaniv Masjedi

CMO, Nextiva

The most obvious way to tell if an interview is heading downhill is body language

The body language exhibited by the interviewer is going to be very telling. If they look annoyed or bored, that’s a big clue that things aren’t headed in the right direction.

Little things like the interviewer not bothering to ask details, leaning back in their chair and paying more attention to the paperwork, these are all big clues.

Checking their mobile can be a big clue, but of course, it could be work-related. If they mention why they are checking their mobile then chances are you are fine. If they don’t even mention it, that’s a bad sign.

The interviewer does not look engaged in the conversation

When I’m interviewing someone and it’s going well, I’m excited and engaged. A good interview that fills me with confidence also fills me with excitement. I get excited and animated in my actions.

I’ll ask somewhat personal questions as I’m considering working with the person, and want to get to know them.

If I’m already viewing them as someone that would negatively affect the team with their attitude, I’m more reserved and don’t bother asking a lot of questions I normally would.

If an interview is going badly, all is not lost.

Many friends of mine have started off on as people I thought I wouldn’t like, but of course, I’ve later realized I actually do like them. This applies to interviews In just the same way.

It only takes one wrong word to make them think you would be bad for the team, but it only takes one little nudge and they are thinking they may have misjudged you. So all is not lost.

Alter your behavior in a big way, as the current behavior isn’t working for you.

If you see they are getting bored, and obviously not that interested, change tac. It’s most likely that your nervousness has made you withdrawn and at least seem negative.

If this is the case—say it! In as few words as “I’m normally a much more upbeat and positive person, I’m just a little nervous as this is so important to me,” instantly you change their perception of you.”

I’m not exaggerating when I state that little things like that can totally shape how they view you. Suddenly you aren’t a reserved person they would need to chase relentlessly for feedback, you’re just nervous as you are taking the interview so seriously.

That can be the difference between landing the position, and getting a, “Well…thank you for your time.”

Reuben Yonatan

Reuben Yonatan

Founder and CEO, GetVoIP

The interviewer is distracted

A job seeker will know their interview did not go well if they notice the interviewer is distracted.

If the interviewer is constantly looking at the time, looking around, seems impatient for you to quickly get through your answer, then they are no longer interested.

The interviewer does not let their guard down

If the interviewer remains rigid and does not throw in a few anecdotes, such as how they used to work in the same place you did or how their interests match yours, then your interview did not go well.

Normally, if the interviewer likes what you bring to the table, they will let their guard down after a few minutes.

Tom De Spiegelaere

Tom Spicky

Founder, Tom Spicky

There are certain dead giveaways that tell when an interview went bad.

The interview may be shorter than expected

If it just took 5 minutes, the interviewer may have already deemed you unfit for the position.

For larger companies, you may be dismissed by the first or second person. Interviews are a lot like video games for big companies. You have to pass a bunch of levels to know you’re progressing. And if you beat the boss level, then you’ve gained the medal and got the position.

The interviewer doesn’t really try to sell you the position or sell the company to you

It’s a clear sign that you’re not going to get the job. If a company sees you as the perfect candidate, they’ll likely try to convince you how great it is to work for them.

They’ll be talking about compensation, benefits, company culture, and diversity. If they don’t during the interview, it’s likely they’re not seeing you in their future plans.

So, what can you do next?

There are instances when you can try to make amends and send them an email. It depends on the slip-up, like if you’re in an emergency situation during the interview and that’s why you weren’t able to focus. You can politely explain the situation and there’s a chance you’ll get a second interview.

Message them if there are some crucial things you forgot to mention. Opt for a thank you note and mention any important connections or affiliations you forgot to mention during the interview. This will help increase your chances if they’re still in the process of vetting candidates.

Ask the interviewer for feedback. If you’re sure you didn’t get the job, ask the interviewer politely for feedback.

Don’t say “Why didn’t I get the job?”. Instead, think along the lines of “Can you give me tips so I could do better in future interviews?”

If you’re hesitant to reach out, know that it won’t help to wallow in self-pity. Assess yourself on where you might have gone wrong and make a commitment to be prepared for the next interviews.

Rahul Vij

Rahul Vij

CEO, WebSpero Solutions

You meet only one person in the company

If a candidate doesn’t seem to fit well, the first person ends the interview and saves time for others.. Sometimes, candidates do not even meet someone related to their field.

In such a case, applicants are usually told that the person is not in the office or is sick.

Your role is not explained well

Well before making the final decision, a candidate is told about their role in the organization to attract them. However, this process is not followed when a candidate is rejected within five minutes into an interview.

“We will call you”

A good interview ends with informing the candidate about the next step. The company wants to keep the candidate in the loop, so it tells what to expect.

On the other hand, a bad interview ends with ‘we will call you’, which never happens.

What to do next?

Learn and improve.

Sometimes, things go wrong. Instead of crying over them, one should bounce back. Review the interview and identify mistakes that can be improved before the next interview. Find the exact reasons and make efforts not to repeat the mistakes.

Give yourself another chance.

This will help you in improving yourself for the future. Remember, nothing good will happen from beating yourself up. Don’t let one bad interview discourage you. Move forward and be a better version of yourself.

Matt Satell

Matt Satell

Growth Manager, Mechanism

The interviewer did not ask about your availability

It’s normal to leave an interview wondering what the interviewer thought about you. One problematic sign to look out for is whether you were asked about your availability.

If a hiring manager is serious, typically they’ll want to know when you can start. If you do get to the end of an interview and haven’t been asked about your availability, then try turning the question around and ask how soon they’re looking to make a decision.

That will at least give you an idea of timing. If the job opportunity doesn’t work out, it can also be useful to follow up with the interviewer for feedback.

Tell them that you’d love to hear any critiques or insight into where you fell short.

Laura Jimenez

Laura Jimenez

Marketing Executive, TrafficTruffle

Job interviews are always a stressful part of the recruitment process and like life itself, as sometimes they do not end up as expected.

There are certain signs that you can clearly identify that will tell you that it is not going well:

  • It is much shorter than expected. Time matters, if a company is not interested in you, they won’t share their busy schedules with you.
  • The interviewer does not give you much data about the position. This is something easy to spot: you won’t know much of the job post if they do not think that you are suitable for it.
  • The body language of the interviewer. This is top proof to identify his/her interest in you as a potential employee. If the interviewer’s body shape it is positioned towards you, it is a good sign.
  • No eye contact or smiles. If the person who is interviewing you does not give you any.

Now I will share some tips on what to do when you spot these signs on a job interview:

  • Think about what went wrong. Do not be too harsh on you; just try to figure out how to become better at the next interview.
  • Ask for some feedback. This will help you to work on your mistakes.
  • Be positive. Don’t let negative experiences affect your emotions.
  • Keep calm and carry on. There is a job out there for you, just keep on working hard.

Chane Steiner

Chane Steiner

CEO, Crediful

One of the easiest ways to tell an interview went bad is if it gets cut short

If you were told an interview was going to last a half-hour, and the interview only goes for fifteen minutes, that’s generally a sign the meeting didn’t go well.

Even if you didn’t get an approximate time of duration in advance, if the interview seemed very brief and incomplete, it typically means the employer wanted to go in a different direction and realized that early on in the meeting.

If an interview goes badly, the most important thing is to not get discouraged

Every job candidate has an interview that goes badly, and you can’t let unsuccessful interviews discourage you or take away from your confidence in your experience and abilities.

Many times, bad interviews don’t reflect on the applicant’s competence or potential; it’s often just that the employer wanted to go in a different direction.

Still, try to assess your performance and analyze a few areas you can improve. Even if it’s as simple as speaking more confidently or using more eye contact, try to make each interview you get even better than the last.

Erik Rivera

Erik Rivera

CEO, ThriveTalk

The interview runs shorter than an allotted time slot

There’s a chance that a short interview means they liked you right away and didn’t have too many additional questions, but it’s pretty slim; most of the time, if the interviewers like you, that should spawn additional questions and conversation, with good rapport.

Knowing how an interview went may also be harder to ascertain over the video, too, now that so many interviews are being held remotely.

You may need to pay closer attention to body language, verbal responses to your answers, etcetera as the interview progresses.

If you suspect the interview didn’t go well, don’t do anything rash.

For one, you may be incorrect and overthinking it, so just wait until the employer contacts you to let you know how it actually went. If it turns out you are correct, ask them for some constructive feedback about how to do better in future interviews.

You may also want to ask if they have any other open positions for which you may be a better match. This might allow you to still get into the company even if the specific job you applied for didn’t work out.

Mason Culligan

Mason Culligan

Founder and CEO, Mattress Battle Inc.

As an employer, an interview is one of the most critical phases as it can give you a glimpse if someone can be a perfect fit for the organization. Here is one of my tell-tale signs that an interview went bad:

The interview never mentioned how the company operates, its culture, and anything past the basics

More importantly, is there was no mention about the position you were applying for, it can mean they don’t see you as a possible candidate.

To prevent such a scenario from happening, be prepared. Do not neglect to study the company you’re applying for. Online interviews or not, this should be standard.

If you are unsure what to answer to a company-specific question, don’t make things up to impress; you have to walk the talk or else that will backfire on your chance.

Samantha Moss

Samantha Moss

Editor & Content Ambassador, Romantific

Getting an interview for the position that you really want from your prospective company feels great but nerve-racking. Just keep in mind how you should be proud of yourself for being able to get to that next level.

Maybe because you were overwhelmed or overly nervous, you were uneasy after the interview. Thinking what might have you done wrong?

Here are two signs that your interview went bad and what to do next:

Lack of eye contact and display of negative body language

Avoiding eye contact means disinterest or dissatisfaction. Added with crossed arms and leaning away, these are classic signs of being unimpressed.

If you see this right after the interview, chances are, the interview went bad. Don’t let this make you show your bad side though, stay professional and act respectfully until the end of your interaction.

The interviewer keeps on mentioning the negative angles of the job

If the interviewer keeps on giving warnings about the negative sides of the job, they might be testing you or worse, trying to overwhelm you to give up and shoo you away. They are trying to intimidate you instead of rejecting you directly.

Don’t let this remove your enthusiasm, instead, make him or her feel that you are willing to take all the challenges that will go along with the job offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know if I’m Asking Good Questions During the Interview?

Asking good questions during an interview is important in demonstrating your interest in the company and the position.

Here are a few signs that you’re asking good questions:

The interviewer is engaged: If the interviewer seems engaged and interested in your questions, that’s a good sign that you’re asking good questions.

Your questions are thoughtful: If you ask thoughtful questions demonstrating your knowledge of the company and the job, that’s a good sign you’re on the right track.

Your questions are open-ended: Open-ended questions that encourage discussion and exploration are often more effective than closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

Your questions are relevant: If your questions are relevant to the job or company, that’s a good sign you’re on the right track.

Remember, your interview questions are designed to learn more about the company and the job and to demonstrate your interest and engagement. By asking thoughtful, relevant questions, you can create a positive impression and make a strong case for why you’re the right person for the job.

Is It Possible to Recover From a Bad Interview?

Yes. Here are a few things you can do:

Reach out to the interviewer: If you feel the interview didn’t go well, reach out to the interviewer or company and express your continued interest in the position. This shows that you’re still interested in the opportunity and dedicated to the company.

Ask for a second chance:
• If you didn’t do well during the interview, don’t be afraid to ask for a second chance.
• Reach out to the interviewer or company and explain that you were nervous or didn’t feel like you did your best.
• Be sincere and express your desire to prove that you’re the right person for the job.

Learn from your mistakes: 
• Take some time to reflect on what went wrong during the interview and use that information to improve for future interviews.
• Identify areas where you struggled or could improve, and take steps to address those issues.

Keep applying: Even if you don’t get the job, don’t let a bad interview discourage you, and keep pursuing your career goals. Keep applying for other jobs and use the experience to improve your interview skills.

What Should I Do if the Interviewer Asks a Question I Don’t Know How to Answer?

It’s not uncommon for interviewers to ask questions you don’t know how to answer. If this happens, don’t panic. Here are a few tips:

Be honest: If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so. Instead of making up an answer or guessing, just admit that you don’t know the answer.

Ask for clarification: If the question isn’t clear, ask the interviewer to clarify it. This can help you understand the question better and respond more thoughtfully.

Stay calm: If you feel that you have a hard time answering a question, take a deep breath and stay calm. It’s better to pause for a moment and collect your thoughts than to blurt out a thoughtless answer.

Pivot to another topic: If you’re really stuck, switching to another topic is okay. For example, you could say, “I’m not sure about that, but I’d like to tell you more about my experience with X.

Remember that your goal is to present yourself as a strong candidate for the job. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s not the end of the world.

How Important Is Body Language During an Interview?

Body language can be fundamental during an interview. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Make eye contact: Maintaining eye contact with your interviewer shows that you’re interested in what they say.

Sit up straight: Sitting up straight shows confidence and professionalism.

Avoid fidgeting: Fidgeting can be distracting and make you look nervous or uninterested. Try to keep your hands steady and avoid bobbing your feet or fiddling with your hair.

Smile: A smile can help you and your interviewer feel comfortable and create a positive impression.

Mirror the interviewer: Pay attention to your interviewer’s body language and try to mimic it. This can help create a sense of rapport and connection.

Remember that body language is important in communication and significantly impacts how your interviewer perceives you.

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