20 Signs Your Interview Went Bad

We’ve all been there. The interview is over and you’re pretty sure you nailed it.

You answered all the questions, made a good impression, and even had a few laughs. But then, you get the call: “Unfortunately, we decided to go with another candidate.”

If the meeting went so well, why didn’t they hire you? What went wrong?

Well, most of the time, when you go into a job interview, you feel especially nervous.

It’s easy to misinterpret the hiring manager’s signals and draw the wrong conclusions about how it all went. This makes it difficult to determine exactly when everything started to go downhill.

Fortunately, there are several telltale signs that your meeting went south. These can help you get a better idea of what happened, why it didn’t work out, and how to fix it next time around!

That’s why in this post I’m going to discuss some of the most common signs your interview went bad, so you know when to cut your losses and make sure this doesn’t happen to you again.

Let’s dive right in.

Signs Your Interview Went Bad

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1. Your interviewer didn’t seem interested in what you had to say

The first red flag to look for is the interviewer’s enthusiasm and engagement. A good hiring manager will take an active interest in what you have to say and try their best to draw out information from you about yourself.

Compare that to an interviewer who seems either disinterested or who isn’t trying to make you feel engaged, who might be checking email on their phone while you’re speaking, or who seems too busy to really listen.

This doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t like you – it could even be just a bad day or a bad mood. But it can be a sign that they’re not even considering you for the position and are only conducting these interviews as a formality.

So what do you do to avoid this in your next job interview? If it’s early in the meeting, try and shift the focus back onto you by asking questions that get them talking more about the role or the company’s dynamics.

If it happens later on, be direct about it: “I feel like I haven’t had much of a chance to share my thoughts so far; would you like me to go over anything again?”

2. You felt like you were being judged during the interview

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If you felt you were being judged on your answers during an interview, it’s a sign that something went wrong.

The hiring manager may have been trying to get a sense of how well you’ll fit in with their company culture, and if you didn’t match their expectations, it probably showed, even if they didn’t say anything about it.

It could also be that they feel you’re unqualified for the job, or that they’ve picked up on some of your negative qualities. Whatever the reason, it’s certain that you won’t get the job because these feelings prevent them from seeing your best qualities.

Now, there’s a fine line between feeling like you were being judged and actually being judged – and it’s important to know the difference.

It can help to remember that everyone has their own style and methods of communication. Some people might come off as more direct than others, but that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily judging you if they ask tough questions or seem critical of your answers.

Also Read: Good Signs You Will Get The Job After Interview

3. The hiring manager’s body language was tense and rigid

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If you’re looking for signs that your interview went bad, then look no further than the body language of your interviewer.

If they were tense and rigid, it means they weren’t happy or comfortable with the way you were responding to the questions or topics discussed. This is usually a sign that they don’t think you have what it takes to be successful in the role.

Check Out: How To Answer What Are Your Salary Expectations?

4. Your interviewer gave you more advice than they asked you questions

The interviewer’s job is to ask questions – and your job is to answer them.

The best questions are open-ended, and leave you room to describe who you are and what you’ve done in a way that helps the company get a clearer picture of whether or not you’re right for the job.

If the hiring manager didn’t ask you anything like that and was instead dropping advice bombs on you throughout the meeting, then it’s a sign that they’re not really interested in hiring you and they’re just trying to get out of there as quickly as possible.

Next time you get stuck in a similar situation, prepare some of your own questions beforehand so you can keep the conversation moving.

5. You couldn’t talk about your past experiences and skills

While it’s true that many companies are looking for fresh talent who can bring a unique perspective to their company, they also want to make sure that you have the baseline experience necessary to do the job.

Your interviewer should have asked questions like “What was your favorite project?” or “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an angry customer.”

If they didn’t ask these types of questions, then it means that either they don’t need someone with your skillset at all or they were already thinking of hiring someone else who fits their needs better than you do.

Also Read: Answers To Weaknesses Question In An Interview

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6. The hiring manager didn’t talk about what to expect next

A good hiring manager will let you know what the next step is before ending the meeting. But if your interviewer ended without giving any details about when and how you’ll hear back from them again, it’s a clear sign the interview didn’t go well.

It could be that they’re not sure who else to speak to before making a decision – but chances are that they’ve already made up their minds and don’t want to waste your time.

Next time, make sure to mention your availability right away during the meeting. Also, follow up with a brief thank-you email afterward, reiterating your interest and availability, and ask any questions that have come up since the interview.

Also Read: Best Follow Up Emails After An Interview & No Response For A Week

7. Your interviewer didn’t share any information about the company’s culture or management style

The hiring manager should be able to tell you how they manage their team and what they expect from employees. They should also be able to give you an idea of their values, which will likely affect the way you live day-to-day at the company.

If the interviewer didn’t give you any indication about how things work at the company, it could mean that they’re either disorganized or that they were more concerned with checking off a “we had an interview” box than they were in finding the right employee.

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One way to cope with this situation is by asking the questions yourself (e.g. “Is it a supportive environment?”, “Are there opportunities for growth and advancement?”, “What kind of work-life balance is there?”)

However, if you did ask the hiring manager about these things and they didn’t give you any detail, it means they don’t think this position is right for you – or that they’re just not interested in the interview process enough to take the time to explain it all.

Also Read: Zoom Interview Etiquettes

8. Your interviewer asked questions that seemed off-topic for the position

Despite your best efforts to anticipate everything, you may find yourself caught off guard by questions that seem out of place or unrelated to the job.

This doesn’t necessarily mean your interview went badly. Maybe your interviewer wasn’t as familiar with the position, so they were trying to figure out how qualified you are and how you’d fit within the company by using questions that weren’t specific to the position.

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That being said, it could be a sign that the interviewer didn’t really care as much about what kind of person you are or how well you fit in with their team. They were just looking for something to talk about.

For instance, if you were applying for an editing position and they asked you to name your favorite food and why, it’s clear that they weren’t really interested in your skillset or how long it would take for you to master their system.

In any case, if you get these questions (or lines of questioning) in your next interviews, think of them as good opportunities to show off some things about yourself that aren’t on your resume.

9. You were unable to build rapport with the interviewer

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We’ve all been there: the interview where you just couldn’t seem to click with the hiring manager. It might have seemed like there was an invisible force field blocking your connection, or that the interviewer was just too stuffy and uptight to open up.

Whatever it was, it felt like you were both on different wavelengths and no matter what you did, you couldn’t get the conversation going.

Rapport is a key part of any successful interview. It’s the ability to connect with someone and establish yourself as a person they like and want to work with.

Your interviewer will be much more likely to hire you if they feel connected to you. If they didn’t, it could be a sign you’ll be better off moving on to other opportunities.

10. Your employer focused on your weaknesses more than anything else during the interview process

Another sure sign your interview went poorly is if your interviewer only discussed your weaknesses and never asked about your strengths.

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You should feel like the interview process is giving you an opportunity to show off what makes you unique – and if they’re spending more time talking about what makes you “average,” that means they’re missing out on seeing who you really are.

This can happen if they’re looking for someone who can do something specific and are disappointed when they realize that you can’t.

It could also happen if they’ve gotten negative feedback from other people about your skill set, or if there’s been some kind of miscommunication about what the job is actually going to demand.

11. You didn’t have time to focus on your answers

If you felt like your interviewer was rushing through your answers, or like they were not taking the time to actually listen to what you were saying, there’s a good chance that your interview didn’t go as well as you had hoped.

This usually means they didn’t have enough time to focus on you, they were interested in someone else’s candidacy, or they had already decided to not extend you an offer.

Also Read: How To Respond To An Interview Request?

12. The interview ended before it was supposed to

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Hiring managers report spending an average of 45 to 90 minutes on each in-person interview (15 to 90 minutes if they’re online). So if yours ended much earlier than that, it’s definitely a sign that something went wrong.

When your interview ends abruptly it means one of two things: either (1) the interviewer ran out of questions and didn’t want you to feel like they were just going through the motions, or (2) they disliked something about you and couldn’t wait to get you out of their office.

For example, you mentioned you have no work experience and will need training before they can expect you to produce anything at all. Or you couldn’t answer their most basic questions because you know nothing about the company or how your role will contribute to its goals.

Those are major red flags that can leave a very bad impression on your interviewer and keep you from getting the job.

Also Read: Why Should We Hire You With No Experience?

13. Your interviewer made a comment that felt inappropriate or rude

This is one of the hardest signs to call.

Some interviewers say unusual things because they want to make small talk, or because they’re trying to seem funny. But if you’re not on board with their attempt at humor, it can feel like an insult.

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However, if during your interview they said something like “I think you’re going to have a lot of trouble working with this team”, refer to you by the wrong name repeatedly, or made a sexist comment about the industry you’re applying for, there’s a good chance you’re not getting a job offer.

Oftentimes, this is the point where a candidate will completely lose their cool. The next time you find yourself in this situation, keep in mind that there are ways to handle this situation that are far more strategic than simply getting upset and storming out.

14. You failed to answer a critical question

If, in the middle of your interview, you suddenly were stuck on one question, completely unsure of how to respond, that’s another bad sign.

Maybe your mind went blank as you tried to recall everything you learned about that topic, but nothing useful came to you. You started saying things like, “I don’t know,” “I’m not sure,” or “Let me think about it.”

Depending on what type of interview it is, your response could range from a mild annoyance for the interviewer to a complete deal breaker.

A potential employer wants to see that you have a firm grasp on all aspects of the field for which they’re hiring you. That way, they know that when faced with a situation that requires expertise in your area, you’ll be able to confidently handle it.

So if you couldn’t provide clear, precise responses to questions during your interview, the hiring manager probably questioned whether or not you have enough knowledge and experience to be worth hiring.

Also Read: What To Wear For Zoom Interview?

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15. You were late to the interview

This is one of the most obvious signs that your interview didn’t go well.

If the hiring manager has invested time in meeting with you, it’s not unreasonable to expect that they’ll be annoyed when someone shows up late.

This can make them less receptive to your ideas and more critical of any mistakes or missteps that happen during the meeting.

16. The hiring manager spent more time reading your resume than asking you questions

When an interviewer spends the whole time looking at your resume rather than listening to what you have to say, it’s usually a sign that the interview didn’t go well.

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The issue here is that the hiring manager wasn’t engaging with you. They were not asking questions about the things on your resume, nor telling you anything about what they were looking for in a candidate or what the company needs to fill in order to get ahead of the competition.

They just read your resume over and over, almost as if to reassure themselves of all the accomplishments listed there.

It’s also a really bad sign if the interviewer kept going back to your resume to ask you questions you already answered.

This can’t give them a good idea of your knowledge of the company or your ability to think on your feet, so it means they were just going through the motions and not really interested in hiring you.

17. Your interviewer compared you negatively to other candidates

When an interviewer refers to another candidate – especially when they say something along the lines of “we’re especially impressed with your qualifications, but…” – it’s a good sign that you didn’t make the cut.

It means that they could have strong feelings about another candidate, or that they were looking to fill your position with someone who has similar skills and experience.

If this happens, don’t take it personally; it’s not about you as a person or even about your resume. It just means that they found another candidate out there who has a trait that makes them a better fit for what this company wants from its employees.

Also, if the hiring manager said something like: “I’m not saying ___ is perfect, but ___ has experience with X and I think you could learn from her.”, or “In comparison to ___, I think you lack a bit of experience in X”, that’s another bad sign.

It means that the interviewer was losing interest in you as an applicant or wasn’t impressed with your interviewing skills.

18. You didn’t meet all of your potential interviewers

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If you were told that there would be two or three people on your interview panel, but only one ends up being present during your meeting, then that’s definitely a bad sign.

This could mean that the company has already made up its mind about not selecting you.

19. The hiring manager didn’t smile once during the interview

While it’s perfectly acceptable to be a little nervous during an interview, an interviewer who doesn’t smile is sending you a message that you should be worried about.

Maybe your answers were far from the mark and the interviewer was trying to figure out how to diplomatically let you down without hurting your feelings. Or perhaps your nervousness was contagious and you made the hiring manager feel uncomfortable too.

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Whatever the reason, this lack of a smile is a bad sign.

If you see yourself in this same situation in future interviews, try to turn the tables on them by saying something like: “Have I done or said anything wrong?”

This will let your interviewer know that you’re open and willing to listen to their feedback as well and that you might even have some ideas of your own as to why things didn’t go as smoothly as they hoped.

Check Out: Short & Sweet Follow Up Emails After A Job Interview

20. Your interviewer asked you the same question multiple times

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If you felt like the interviewer kept asking you the same question over and over, that’s a sign that your interview went badly.

It’s normal for a hiring manager to ask the same question a few times if they’re trying to get more information from you or see how you react when they ask something unexpected. But if it happens consistently throughout the interview, there’s a good chance that they were bored or irritated with your answers.

Final Word

It’s always a bummer when an interview goes south, but sometimes you can tell right away that it’s not going to be the perfect fit. You shouldn’t get discouraged though!

Interviewing is a learning experience for everyone involved in the process. As long as you learn from your mistakes and make changes going forward, it’s possible to turn even the worst interview experiences into positive ones.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.