The worst part of a job search can be when you think you’ve aced an interview, so you’re ready to start celebrating your new gig…. But despite how well you thought it went, you don’t get the job. Sometimes there’s a polite rejection email, sometimes it’s a phone call. In the worst case scenario, you never hear back at all.
(And 44 per cent of people surveyed say that they never received a response from the employer after their most recent job interview.)
You’re not likely to get every job that you interview for. It’s not your fault, that’s just the way it works. It might help take the sting of disappointment off of it if you could tell right during the interview that you weren’t going to be hired.
There are some telltale signs that you can watch for that it’s not going very well.
The worst bad interview story I ever heard was the one of the 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 crossed out the name. Ouch.
Okay, that’s a clear sign not to go home and wait for the offer to come in. However, most indications that your job interview isn’t going very are much subtler than this.
Indicators that you won’t be getting the job
The interview is too easy. This can seem like a good thing. The job interview is short and sweet and never makes you sweat. 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 lined up 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 means 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 wait by the phone.)
You’re offered some helpful career advice. This can seem like a nice, personal moment in an otherwise formulaic, corporate encounter. The employer asks about where you’re trying to get with your career and offers you some tips as to what experience, education, or skills you should look into acquiring 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 you may 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 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.