There are a number of signs that your job interview went badly or you didn’t get the job after an interview, and also some signs it went well.
This article will reveal the top 15 signs that your interview might have gone badly, including:
And if you don’t notice any of these negative signs in your job interview, then it’s likely that your interview went well.
One of the fastest ways to start seeing whether an interview is going well is to notice the body language of the hiring manager or interviewer.
The interviewer may begin to show body language signs (either good or bad) within the first few interview questions and answers after you begin talking.
So you may be able to notice, do they seem interested and engaged? Or do they seem distracted and low-energy?
Of course, each interviewer has their own personality and body language and you’ve likely never met this person before, so don’t read too much into this one sign by itself.
If an interviewer seems to be displaying poor body language, it could mean this is just their personality/habits.
Let’s continue with more signs that an interview went bad or a hiring manager had concerns.
Unless an emergency came up and the interviewer explained the situation, it’s usually a bad sign if an interview is cut short and doesn’t go for the allotted time.
Sometimes, initial phone interviews or video interviews are brief, but at minimum, I’d expect them to last for 25-30 minutes. So if the end of the interview came abruptly or much sooner than expected, it’s a possible sign that the interview went poorly.
Sometimes, if an interview is going badly and you were scheduled to talk to multiple employees of the company that day, the first person you meet with will decide to send you home and save everyone else’s time.
This is a rare scenario but it does happen, and it’s one of the top signs your interview did not go well.
However… before you panic….
It really depends on how many people you missed out on meeting, and how well they explained the reasons.
Being scheduled to meet five people and then only interviewing with four isn’t necessarily proof of a bad interview, especially if they give you a reason (like the person being sick, traveling, or tied up in another meeting).
However, if you were scheduled for a whole day of interviews and only met one or two people, it’s more likely they felt it was a bad interview and didn’t wish to continue. This usually happens when candidates clearly aren’t a fit for the role they’re interviewing for.
Usually, if an interview is going well, the interviewer will try to sell you on exciting aspects of the position, what you’d have an opportunity to do and learn, etc.
If they’re highly interested, they’ll want to sell their job and attract you, just like you’re trying to sell yourself to them.
So if the employer does little to tell you about the position or what you’d be doing in the role, it’s a sign that either:
Judge this sign based on who you spoke with, though. If you had an interview with a low-level HR person, they may just be there to cover some basics with you (like going over your resume). And then in the next interview, the hiring manager will explain the role better.
However, if you met face-to-face with the hiring manager and they shared nothing about what the organization is doing or what you’d do in this role, it’s a bad sign.
Along with selling you on the position, an interested employer will likely try to share exciting details about what their company is doing overall.
This can include company culture, team outings/events, the organization’s successes and exciting upcoming projects, and more.
Employers share this information with the goal of getting you excited about the role so that you’re more likely to accept an offer.
If this didn’t happen, it’s potentially a bad sign.
If a hiring manager is really excited about you, they’ll go out of their way to talk about what your future would look like after you start the role. They want to paint a positive picture of your career with their company.
They may talk about future paths you could take in the organization, what other people have gone on to do after working in the position you’re discussing, etc.
(Note: This is also a great question to ask them if they don’t bring it up: “What have people gone on to do in your company after holding this role?”)
If none of this happened, it could be a sign the interview went badly.
Different interviewers and hiring managers have different styles in the interview process. Some may joke with you and ask their interview questions in a casual format, while others are dead-serious.
So don’t just judge this one sign on its own and panic. However, if you noticed some other signs above that the interview went poorly, and the interviewer also didn’t really bond with you at all via humor, small talk, etc., then it’s not a good sign.
This could mean the interview didn’t go well in general. Or, it can indicate that the interviewer didn’t see you as a good fit for the company culture.
However, if the interviewer was quiet and serious, but did take the time to ask you some questions about yourself and get to know you as a person, it might just be that their job interview style is to keep the conversation dry and professional.
Usually, if an interviewer or hiring manager is excited about what you’re saying, they’ll smile a bit, nod their head, and show interest.
That’s a good way to know you gave a great interview answer.
So if they seem bored and uninterested, it might be a sign your interview went badly, or your interview answers missed the mark and didn’t show the hiring manager what they wanted.
If that’s the case, they’ll likely choose someone else to hire.
Some of the first questions in an interview are typically intended to judge your motivation for job searching, your personality, etc. But after that, an interviewer will typically want to discuss your background, recent responsibilities, etc.
So it can be a bad sign if you mainly hear interview questions about your general motivation to job hunt, what you’re looking to do next, and why, such as:
If you give a bad answer to one of these early questions… it could be a deal-breaker and could prevent you from moving on to discuss further topics.
If an employer is worried about your motivation, work ethic, and whether you’re serious about wanting to work for them, they aren’t going to care as much about your specific skills and experience.
So if you don’t satisfy them with these first few interview questions above, then the interviewer might go light on the experience-based questions because they’ve already made up their mind that you’re not someone they want to hire.
Make sure you practice these common questions above.
It doesn’t get more obvious than this – sometimes the interviewer will tell you outright that they have concerns about your experience or the answers you gave.
Don’t panic if this happens mid-interview though. If they told you, it means they’re giving you a chance to explain or provide more info.
But if you failed to do this, and the interview ended without you addressing some of the concerns they brought up, it’s unlikely you’re going to get a job offer, and it’s definitely a sign the interview ended pretty poorly.
That’s usually a sign the interview went badly, or that the interviewer had concerns about a specific point and you didn’t put their mind at ease (at least not immediately).
Of course, it could also be a good sign and an indication that they’re excited about a piece of experience and want to hear more.
Here’s an example of when being asked multiple interview questions about one topic is a good thing:
Imagine that they ask a few interview questions about your most recent job, and you say you led a team of five people.
Now imagine the interviewer says, “Oh wow, I didn’t realize from your resume that you were leading those people directly. Tell me more about your leadership experience and interaction with those people.”
You might say, “Well, I managed their projects, delegated tasks, and conducted all of their training. The only thing I didn’t do was their performance reviews, hiring, and firing.”
Them: “Very interesting. How would you describe your leadership when it comes to delegating tasks?”
This type of natural conversation and chain of questioning is a positive sign when interviewing.
It’s just when interviewers keep circling back to the exact same topic that it’s a bad sign.
In that case, the interviewer may have a serious concern or misunderstanding that they’re trying to address about your skills or past responsibilities.
It’s normal for an interviewer to ask, “Walk me through your resume,” or look through the document while asking questions about your prior responsibilities.
However, if they kept looking at your resume and asking you about the same piece of experience over and over, they might have had concerns about how your skills would fit their job and team.
It could also be a sign that the interviewer was new or inexperienced, though. So if this happened in an initial interview with HR, or with someone who is lower down in the company’s structure, it might not be a sign that things went badly.
Note whether the interviewer took their time walking you out and concluding the interview, or whether they seemed rushed at the end of the process, after their last few questions.
Usually, if they took their time, it’s a sign the interview went well.
Unfortunately, if they rushed you out or seemed focused on their next task (whatever they planned on doing after you left), it’s a sign that things probably went badly during part or all of the interview.
Next, ask yourself: Did the interviewer ask when you could start a new position? Did they ask whether you’re interviewing at other companies?
Did they ask whether you’d need to give a two-week notice if they offer you the role?
Now, you won’t always be asked these types of questions in a first interview, so don’t panic if you had a quick phone conversation or video interview and they didn’t cover these topics.
But usually, they’ll ask a little bit about this if you they like you, even in a first interview.
For example, recruiters will typically ask the following in a first call to get a sense of your overall job search and how quickly they’ll have to move if they want to hire you:
Of course, if the interviewer does ask questions like these, it’s a sign the interview went well and they’re interested in you as a candidate.
If an interviewer asked anything that seemed odd or wasn’t really related to work, or the job, it could be a bad sign. Examples:
I’m not talking about making small talk.
It’s fine if they asked whether you played sports, whether you knew so-and-so at your last company, whether you had hobbies, whether you enjoyed the college you attended, etc.
But, if you did something out of the ordinary and they asked about it, then it might be because it concerned them. It might not ruin your chances at the job, but it’s another sign that the job interview might have gone badly.
While the interview signs above can help predict whether the employer thought you were a good candidate for the job, it’s possible to notice a sign of a bad interview and still get the job.
It’s also possible to see a positive sign, such as the hiring manager making lots of eye contact and smiling, and still not get the job.
So the only 100%-reliable way to know you succeeded in the interview is when the employer calls or emails you and says you got the job.
Even if an interviewer seems unusually excited talking to you, they might still be scheduled to interview a few other candidates after you, and anything can happen…
So what you should be doing after you get home from an interview is:
You could do everything right in the interview and still not get the job. There’s a lot of luck involved in job searching. So counting on one single job offer is dangerous and could set you back weeks if it turns out you get rejected after the interview.
So even though it’s tempting to wait and hope for good news, keep applying for positions and setting up interviews.
Since we looked at 15 signs an interview went badly above, it’s logical that if you’re going on interviews and not seeing these signs, then it’s likely that companies are interested in you as a candidate.
Here are the top signs your interview went well:
Whether you think your interview went well or badly, the best thing you can do is keep job searching and applying to positions (after sending a thank you note, of course).
Keep your momentum going.
The biggest mistake I see job seekers make is they get one or two interviews scheduled and stop applying for jobs, and they just hope those first couple of employers that they talk to will be interested.
This is a big gamble and often leads to job seekers going months without a job, because they’re waiting and doing nothing each time one employer shows interest.
So keep sending out your resume to employers and applying to relevant positions. Don’t stop applying for jobs until you’re sure you’re being offered a role that you will accept.
This will lead to a faster job search and help you feel much more relaxed, too. You’ll have more prospects and more interviews, meaning less pressure with each one. You don’t need one single interviewer to be interested when you’re going on five interviews in a week.
You’ll seem much more confident in each interview because of this. So that’s why I encourage you to keep sending out your resume.
You can always cancel an interview or two if you decide to accept an offer, but it’s better to have too many opportunities than too few.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
Get our free PDF with the top 30 interview questions and answers. Join 10,000+ job seekers in our email newsletter and we'll send you the 30 must-know questions, plus our best insider tips for turning interviews into job offers.