You’ve done all that you can to prepare for your interview. You’ve dressed professionally, memorized your answers to tough interview questions, and researched the company beforehand. When you finally arrive at the office, you shake hands with the interviewer and walk into their office with poise and confidence. That is until you open your mouth. In this article, we are exploring the signs you just had a bad job interview.
Most job seekers expect to suffer through at least one or two negative job interviews in their careers. Having a bad interview is an unfortunate part of the process, but thankfully most candidates get a chance to redeem themselves by following up strongly in their next job interview.
The below bad job interview signs are not designed to scare but rather act as a checklist. If you recently had a job interview rejection, cross-reference the points below to your own experience and consider if any of the points are areas that you would like to improve upon for your next job interview and then consider how it is you would achieve this.
Sometimes at a job interview, you just don’t get the feeling that this is the right environment for you. A large part of having harmony in your work is working alongside colleagues whose company you enjoy and who you know can collaborate and communicate with you on a level you’re happy with.
Experiencing loud, brash, aggressive and intimidating people in a job interview is something most people would prefer to avoid. Alternatively, you might be an extroverted character who has just undergone a job interview and met an existing team of largely introverted characters who you feel you wouldn’t fit in alongside.
Unfortunately, these are things that we cannot experience until we have ventured to the job interview location and undergone the process.
Often our differences in personalities can become apparent as a job interview goes on and it can lead to friction. But as much as the company has the option to hire someone who they feel is a good personality fit for their organisation, you too have the option to decide what works best for you.
The company didn’t seem like a good culture fit
Caring about a company’s culture will not be applicable to all job seekers but for some, it may be an important factor on whether they are prepared to commit to working there and delivering results to benefit that organisation.
Cultural differences can range from things such as expectations of staff and their outputs or the actual working conditions of the working environment and flexibility in offering remote working. Other people may have concerns over the company’s ambitions, recent performances or position within their marketplace.
Discovering information in a job interview that is not agreeable to you and a deal-breaker can make you feel like you have wasted your time but try to take the positives out of the job interview experience and apply it to your future job applications.
The company didn’t seem as exciting or promising as you’d hoped for
Job descriptions of years gone by were very formal, clear and concise in what was required and the expectations of the job applicants. Fast-forward to the present day where companies fight for the top available talent and recruitment companies aplenty looking to stand out from their competitors in delivering the best candidates. The result has been more exuberant job descriptions and job advertisements which can sometimes feel like more of a sale pitch.
You may have been excited about your upcoming job interview after reading an eye-grabbing job ad or speaking to a recruitment agent who really sold the company to you. However, after arriving at the job interview you soon realised they weren’t the exciting and industry-leading business you was led to believe.
This is a negative aspect to modern job-hunting and like with the above point, not one you can fully understand until you’ve gone through with the job interview and learned more about the business.
In our article After the Job Interview: 7 Things to do Immediately After a Job Interview we cover how you should reflect on a job interview and whether you think it is the right employer for you.
You are not completely familiar with the job responsibilities
Have you ever left a job interview confused about what the interviewer was asking and not sure about the responsibilities? You are not alone! Many candidates have experienced this at some point in their lives. When it comes to job interviews, many candidates just want to get it over with.
If you failed to ask more questions in the job interview to gather a greater understanding of the role and you weren’t able to demonstrate knowledge from your past experiences in similar roles, this may have gone against you. Make sure you ask the questions you need to fully understand the role. Starting a job you are excited about to have responsibilities put on you that you were unaware of or inexperienced in could cause stress that otherwise could have been avoided.
The hiring manager was not paying attention to you
There are many reasons why you might not get a job offer after an interview, but there are red flags that could tell you the company is not interested regardless, and a lack of interest shown from the hiring manager is certainly one of them.
Examples of a lack of interest from a hiring manager can include:
Negative body language
Short and vague answers given
No details were given about the next stage of the hiring process
They were easily distracted by their phone or laptop
You need to consider that the reason for not being receptive may have nothing to do with you and be completely out of your control. This can include factors such as the hiring manager already knowing who they want to give the job to and nothing you say will impact that, or it may be they feel threatened or challenged by someone new joining their organisation/department.
Those are factors that are beyond your control, however, there are many reasons why you may have inadvertently lost their attention by how you’ve acted or responded to questions.
If you have returned home from a job interview where you felt you struggled to gain their attention, consider these things:
Did you arrive on time and was dressed appropriately?
Were you polite and greeted them with a handshake and eye contact?
Did you come to the interview prepared with knowledge about the business?
Did you show enough enthusiasm in the answers you gave?
Were the answers you gave long enough with plenty of detail?
Did you ask appropriate questions?
If you feel you did all of these things the chances are you were unlucky and the behaviour of the hiring manager was beyond your control. Asking for feedback following the job interview could help uncover the reasons.
No one seems to know much about you before the interview
Sometimes you can go way beyond this by meeting a chatty interviewer who loves to talk and after the interview might even want to talk about mutual interests which they’ve discovered you share.
It is for sure better to have a longer interview than a shorter interview. The more time you have talking, the more opportunities you have to impress.
The causes of a short interview can include a lack of questions from the company, short responses from yourself and a lack of questions asked by yourself.
The less time you have in front of a company equals less time to impress them.
Managing the length of a job interview as the job candidate is tricky and something you can improve upon with the more job interviews you have. Always be conscious of the length of the answers that you are giving and if you feel that the interviewer is trying to rush things along to get you out the door, don’t be afraid to take as long as you need to give the required amount of information and ask the questions that are important to you.
The theme of this point is similar to that of point 5, in this point we are looking at hiring managers who haven’t done any of their preparation prior to the job interview to understand more about you, your background and your work history.
While hiring managers are undoubtedly busy people it is sometimes the case that they haven’t found the time to go through every job applicants details in the required detail.
The result of this lack of prior preparation from a hiring manager is a lack of understanding of your skills and experiences which can then lead to a poorer job interview where the right questions are not put forward to fully understand a candidates capabilities.
If this is a circumstance you find yourself in, think on your feet regarding what you have discussed already in the interview and try and mention your other areas of expertise in upcoming answers or ask questions at the end which lead to you discussing these areas.
You didn’t ask enough questions
Asking questions at job interviews are a must and this is a tough one because it’s hard to know how many questions you should ask in an interview. But not asking enough questions can have negative consequences.
Not asking enough questions can show a lack of enthusiasm for the job role and leave the interviewer with a negative impression of you which can really damage your chances of securing the job.
Not asking questions can also be perceived as having a lack of confidence and wanting to be done with the job interview as soon as possible.
Take the time to prepare the questions you would like to ask ahead of the job interview and if you happen to have received the answers to your questions during the interviews natural flow of conversation, be sure to let them know the topics you were keen to know more about prior the interview and you’re happy that you’ve already received the information during the job interview. This will let them know you had come prepared to learn more and it might reopen the discussion around these points once more where you might be able to squeeze some more information out of them.
When you go into a job interview, you want it to be a positive experience for both you and the people interviewing you. However, being prepared for what to expect and how to handle certain situations can make a big difference in how you come off, and whether or not you get hired.
Not knowing anything about the company or position is a huge sin when it comes to job interviews. You should do your research ahead of time so that you come into the interview with knowledge about what the company does and why it is in business. Not only does this show that you care about the job and want to learn more about their mission, but it also shows that you are willing to put in extra effort in order to succeed at your new position.
When the inevitable questions do arise asking what you know about either the organisation or the job role, you need to be able to provide detailed answers to impress. Showing an impressive understanding is a good start but then linking that to your own skills and experiences to demonstrate why you’re the right fit for the role is a great way to take it that step further.
Starting a job interview in a positive manner is a great way to give off a good first impression and provide a solid base to build upon as the interview goes on. To make this great start we need to have a clear head and a positive attitude.
A way we can ensure we are in the right state of mind is by planning our journey ahead of time, giving ourselves a comfortable window where even with a delay we can still arrive at the interview early. Upon arriving we can then have one final mental run-through of the notes and preparations we have made.
With the information fresh on our mind we can enter the building, go through whatever signing in procedures are required, take a seat and wait to greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and smile.
The salary on offer was too low
The debate on whether job descriptions should publish the salary on offer is one that still looms large, especially on websites such as LinkedIn.
Seeing job descriptions describe the salary on offer as “competitive” or “negotiable based on experience” is something job hunters are all too familiar with.
The problem with this approach from employers is that not everyone has the same opinions and estimations on what constitutes as “competitive” or what an experienced industry professional should be paid.
Many job seekers will be cautious about approaching the business for an exact figure or salary range on offer prior to attending a job interview, especially if this is a job they are very excited about and want to be seen to have interests beyond financial.
Now let’s say we didn’t do these things and you are rushing around on the day, you arrive late or just-on-time but you are out of breath, possibly sweating, and you haven’t had time to go through your last-minute preparation. As you rush into the building and greet the interviewer you are already on the back foot and will need to quickly compose yourself to turn things around.
There are many causes for a bad job interview, some within your control and some not. While there are likely many more signs you just had a bad job interview, the ones above are some of the most common. Hopefully, after reading this list, you won’t have to guess what went wrong.
The best thing to do if you ever get the feeling you have had a poor job interview is to be honest with yourself and address the areas you felt haven’t gone well for you and consider how you could improve on them for next time. You may find our article After the Job Interview: 7 Things to do Immediately After a Job Interview useful.