Signs Your Interviewer Isn’t Going To Hire You

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Interviews can be both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. On the one hand, you are thinking “Yes! Finally, someone wants to interview me!” And on the other hand, you’re nervous about everything that could go wrong during an interview. It’s the perfect combination for distracting you from deciphering what your interviewer is thinking.

Oftentimes, we focus on what interview questions will be asked and how to tackle them as interviewees – and we forget to look at our potential employer’s reaction.

I haven’t had a whole lot of interviews, but there was an instance where I felt like a potential employer did not care about the interview. The position was semi-related to my field, and from the moment I walked into this person’s office, I knew I wasn’t going to get hired for the job, and that’s never a good sign.

As the interview progressed, my suspicions escalated, and then later confirmed when I received my rejection letter for the position. Below are some of the signals that helped me translate my interviewer’s actions and responses. Hopefully you won’t run into any signs your interviewer isn’t going to hire you.

The Interviewer Is Eating During The Interview

While there are several employers out there who work a busy job, and literally have no time to eat, it’s extremely rude to eat in front of your interviewee. It’s even more rude to eat in front of your interviewee as if you haven’t eaten in five days.

For instance, my interviewer felt compelled to dash out of the office in the middle of our interview to grab something to eat, came back, and dropped the residue from an expired-looking apple all over my carefully crafted resume. Not only did this make me feel like my interviewer didn’t care about my resume, but it made me feel like he/she didn’t want me to be there because I was interrupting his/her impromptu lunch.

The Interviewer Is Not Listening

Again, this could be attributed to the fact that your potential employer might have a thousand things to do, so he/she wants to be over and done with the interview as soon as possible. As for my particular experience, whenever I was asked a question during the interview, I answered confidently and to the best of my ability.

However, it seemed like my interviewer had no interest in what I was saying because she constantly interrupted with an “Uh-huh,” or a “Right” for most, if not all, of my answers, and in some instances did not let me finish. There was also no eye contact from my interviewer whatsoever during my answers, despite all of the efforts I made to look at him/her.

The Interviewer Doesn’t Give You Hope

Once the interview is done, most employers say things like, “Thank you for coming in, we’ve still got a lot of people to interview, but if we’re interested we’ll call you.” In fact, that response is actually quite common. But when you get a response like “Good luck on your career,” that doesn’t exactly make you feel like you got the job, it certainly didn’t make me feel like I was hired for the position.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that the employer doesn’t think you would be a good asset for their company, but maybe you’re just not a good fit for the particular position you were interviewing for. Regardless, the way an employer says goodbye can be another way to tell whether or not you might be considered for the job.

The next time you are in an interview, try to pay attention to your interviewer’s reactions. If they are negative responses, it might help you come up with better answers or ways to engage your potential employer’s interest in your presence and what you have to say about your many talents.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Belen Chacon

Belen is a journalism graduate student at California State University, Northridge. She spends her time interning wherever she can and tweeting her heart out. You can follow her @journobelen.

31 comments

  1. I agree never to read too much into signs that employers give off as you may never know. Through my experience I’m usually about 98-99 percent correct whether I’m going to get a job offer or not. When this occurs during the interview what else can you do? All I really do is smile and do my best to sell myself but it’s hard sometimes when the employer is obviously giving off bad signs or being rude. I’m tired of interviews and I just want to be my own boss.

  2. I once had an interview where I assumed the first round went well because I was called back in the following week for round 2 and to meet the team. Administrator said that he would be calling the next week with a decision. He took the lazy way out and emailed me my rejection email. I wasted gas going to 2 interviews for a job that I was extremely qualified for. I take it that he was intimidated with my masters degree because it was more so in his field of work even though I had no interest in his job! At another interview, I was interviewed by 3 women and no one smiled, just asked me word from word questions printed on a paper. I was again well qualified for the job. I didn’t mind not hearing back from them. They were unfriendly and definitely not the right company for me to work in.

  3. Just finished two interviews; first one they tried to find out what my current companies next moves would be (I currently work for there competitor) They acted all interested and into what I was saying in the hope I would let something slip; when I did not reveal anything after they asked me the same question in all three interviews they became rude and condescending.

    Then a week later had another interview with another company (I had to drive two hours to get there); they asked me to clarify some points on my resume then thanked me and said that they has thought my resume stated something else. They could have clarified these points on the phone.

  4. I once had a lunch interview. The interviewer contantly ate and told me just to talk because he was just fitting me in. Guess wha,t never heard back.

  5. I had an interview once where I knew just from the silence I didn’t have a chance. Almost from the start this lady barely spoke a word and when I was leaving I said thank you for her time and for the opportunity and all she did was slightly smile and nod.

    • The thing about that, Brenda is that if the interviewee knows they’re not going to be hired, such as it was in your case, it just goes to show how some employers do not take interviews seriously.

  6. It´s OK and I completely agree with you. And it happens quite often. But If in my company I had interviewers of that kind, they wouldn´t last one more minute working for us.

  7. The advise is good. Living in a country with over 40% unemployment level has taught me to handle rejection. Some jobs are advertised long after the recruits are known. Interviews are sometime a formality just keep positive yours will one day come.

  8. Sorry but I think all of these are a bit obvious, eating during the interview, not listening and ‘good luck in your career!’.

    I think I would have left the interview myself before it ended if the first two happened as it would clearly be a waste of mt time.

    Best regards.

    • I’ve had two interviews where the interviewer was so blatantly not listening that it came across as extremely rude. I thanked them for wasting my time and left mid-interview. I’ve learned that they are simply people too and they don’t deserve the respect of an interviewee if they’re going to be that horrible to somebody who is spending hours upon hours polishing cover letters, resumes, etc. only to have all hope completely destroyed by a jerk.

      • I am sorry you had to go through that. I mean, honestly, why waste anyone’s time like that. Some people also go out of their way to make it to these interviews. For instance, if you’re currently underpaid at a job and you’re trying to move up, you will have to ask for one of your workdays off just to make it to the interview. Really, interviews should be taken very seriously.

  9. Great post! These are definitely signs that an interviewer isn’t going to hire you. But if an interviewer is rude or otherwise unengaged in your conversation, that could be a sign of a lack of professionalism–and you wouldn’t want to work for a company that allows that type of behavior toward job candidates. While rejection can be discouraging, try to take it as a sign that working with that company simply wasn’t meant to be. Focus on the positive, and start focusing on your next career move.

    • Wise words, Josh. I whole-heartedly agree. Job seekers should not feel bad about being rejected by unprofessional employers. Thanks for reading!

  10. Also, be sure to ask ask ask questions. I found out that the last place I interviewed at, a cell phone was required for the job and they assumed that I owned one. They never even brought up that idea or even asked me if I owned one!

    I haven’t had a cell phone since 2006 and that employer took advantage of my personal cell phone and I decided to not have one since my employer (at the time) was running up my cell to $200 a month. So, this last employer in Oct 2012, just assumed that I owned one. Don’t ever leave a job interview without asking all kinds of questions or you may be stuck with a job that you can’t really do – and if a cell phone is needed for your job – it will make it hard to get a cell without $50 in the bank to purchase one or you will need to wait until your first pay check. (Unless you have money laying around to go out and get one before your first paycheck).

    Be sure as well to be up front if the employer DOES seem like they want to hire you, that you be forthcoming. Some employers need to hire someone FAST and don’t think of what YOU may be going through. If you have surgery planned soon, but don’t know WHEN that will be exactly and if the employer says “We hope you are ready to go by XYZ date” you will need to put your foot out there and say “Well, like I told you, I’m waiting for surgery and my surgery may be that week and I will have to wait to get a TB test after my surgery. Can I get back to you in a week when I have my pre op date, in one week I will know when my surgery is”.

    I ran into this problem with an employer in Oct 2012 and I was not able to get a TB test when they wanted it, since I had to have surgery on Thursday and that just happened to be THE day that my TB test (would have been read) IF I had gotten my TB on Monday, the day I started work. They wanted me to go down to their place for TB tests, and I would be in a difference city/different hospital for my surgery. (You have to wait 3 days for a TB test to be read) And they said they don’t allow people to work at all, until they get a TB test.

    Interviewing is tricky and employers should be understanding that people do get sick and sometimes, people do need surgery and a LOT goes into surgery, including blood type check the day before surgery. It is sad when you have to explain so much to employers. But this happens and it is life. At least my surgery was over Oct 18th 2012 and I don’t need any surgery right now. Looking forward to more phone calls and I’d love to get more interviews. The more interviews I can get, the better I can be prepared.

    And Don’t be nervous! Employers can tell and I also notice, don’t go into too much detail about your last job. I think we lose employers when we go on too much about our last job. They want to know what we can do for them.

    • I see where your’re coming from, Sandra, but I don’t normally go into that much detail on the first interview. I think things like that could probably be discussed in the second or third interview. Thanks for reading!

      • For this job there was no “Second” or “Third” interview. It was only one interview and within a few days I was picked and I had to make a very quick decision with my surgery day coming up – not knowing when it would be. The timing was all mest up for both me and the employer, no ones fault really. I wish I had more than one day of job shadowing the person that left.

  11. I had an interview last month for a dream job, but I knew I was an underdog going in. During the first ten minutes, we had a great rapport, but I got a strong sense that I wasn’t answering questions to her liking.

    I’ve never seen anything like this before, but all of a sudden her body language changed. Instead of leaning over the conference table, she slumped back in her chair and crossed her legs. The interview changed from an interesting exchange of ideas to a one-sided script. She started a monologue about the company and closed with “do you have any questions”. Boom, like that.

    Sometimes hints are much more subtle than ‘eating’ or ‘interrupting’.

    • Phil,

      I am sorry you had such a bad experience. Sometimes the subtle hints hurt a lot more than the obvious ones. Did this person ever follow-up with you after the interview? Did you follow-up with her?

      • Yes, I sent her the standard “thanks for the meeting” e-mail. I focused on some of my strengths and tried to clarify some of the answers that she reacted negatively to.

        No response, which frankly seems all too frequent in this day and age.

        • It really saddens me how several employers refuse to acknowledge messages from eager and qualified candidates. I know they are busy and sometimes it is virtually impossible to get back to everyone, but I do think they should at least attempt to reply back to candidates that were interviewed for a position.

          I have a lot of friends who are looking for a job right now and not responding to messages seems to be a huge issue. That and the fact that employers seem to refuse to reject applicants swiftly. Instead, they don’t reply at all and several candidates are left in limbo, wondering if they’ll ever hear back from a job they applied to months ago. All the more reason why all job seekers should do whatever they can to stand out from those never ending resume piles.

          • I agree I think that they should reply to those that they have interviewed for the position because this will let them know whether to seek other employment instead of hoping that they have the job and never hear from the employer.

  12. Your right I had these experiences. I learned the hard way. However, I think it can be very helpful for someone who just left an office feeling this way or blamed themselves. Please people for future refrence please be just a little more considerate to your interviewee as you were once in that position and we wouldn’t be there for a job if we didn’t need one.

    So you bring your humanism/understanding and we will bring our prepardness. Just as you expect us to know about a job and why we are there we expect you to be courteous and respectful/professional.

    • I feel that maybe sometimes employers act this way because they know jobs are scarce at the moment. I hope I am wrong, but that definitely seems to be the case in several interviews.

      I do agree with you though. There needs to be a high level of professionalism between both parties.

  13. Also: You never got an interview to start with. That would be a very strong indication that your interviewer will not be hiring you.

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