Signs Your Job Interview Is Not Going Well

Signs Your Job Interview Is Not Going Well


Few situations are more awkward and anxiety-inducing than sitting through a job interview that has gone pear-shaped. Unfortunately, however, most of us will go through this experience at one time or another throughout our respective careers. 

At times, these negative experiences are our own doing: we may have turned up to the interview woefully unprepared. I am sure you can all recall with alarming accuracy the question that flummoxed you the most or the topic about which you knew nothing. 

Bad interviews are almost a rite of passage for anyone who has been in the workforce long enough. Many candidates often blame themselves for bad interviews when they shouldn’t. As someone who has sat through his fair share of interviews, I can assure you that many bad interviews are due to poor interviewers. This does not, however, exempt job hopefuls to do their homework and come prepared for them.

Here are some signs to look for when you suspect your interview is going awry.


Pre-interview communications

Hiring companies should always treat your candidacy with respect and diligence. If you find communications leading up to the interview to be lacking, you should maybe temper your expectations going into the actual meeting. For instance, if your interview is re-scheduled repeatedly or if they do not provide you with the information you require for the interview, this could be a warning that the process may be a little bumpy. In an ideal situation, a candidate should not have any significant unanswered questions heading into the interview.



The whole purpose of an interview is for both the employer and candidate to get to know one another and to put their best feet forward. As much as employers don’t want surprises during an interview, candidates are equally deserving. 

As such, if you find yourself being thrown curveballs during the interview or if the interviewer veers way off course, you are probably not going to enjoy working for this company or for the interviewer, who sometimes may be the future immediate boss. The interviewer should always try to support candidates throughout the process.



Would you ever pull out your cellphone during an interview and respond to an email? No? So then why should it be acceptable for an interviewer to do so while you talk? I know it can seem damaging to your chances to ask the interviewer to focus on your interview politely, but you should always try to take proactive steps to get the conversation heading back in the right direction.


Tell me what you want

One of the most frustrating interview experiences of my early career involved meeting with a hiring manager who did not know what type of candidate he wanted to hire for the open position. Throughout the interview, he asked a series of unrelated questions, even going so far as to delve into my personal life. As a candidate, I found the discussion to be wholly confusing and altogether upsetting. At the end of the interview, the embarrassed recruiter informed me that I was the fifteenth person to interview for the role. 

The lesson here: if you find the interviewer veering wildly off course, it may be that he/she is not approaching the exercise with enough sincerity or clarity. Do your best to keep the conversation relevant and moving forward. If the questions become inappropriate, you are rightfully allowed to refuse to answer or to stop the interview.


Learn to pivot

Some interviewers will ask you tricky questions to test your mettle or to see how you respond under pressure. A particularly mean-spirited interviewer will ask you “impossible” questions that have no correct answer. In my opinion, these interview styles have no merit, but you may, unfortunately, be subject to one. If you find yourself in that position, learn how to absorb a difficult question and turn it into something more appropriate. If you need some guidance, look up some videos of successful politicians; while they may seem sleazy, they make for skilled interviewees and know how to turn hard questions into positive answers. Also, there is no shame in admitting that you do not know the answer to a question. But it may be rare to catch a politician admitting to such a thing!


Bad closure

Like a date, some obsess over the last minutes of an interview more than the preceding hour(s) of conversation. Have you felt excellent throughout the interview only to feel let down by a cold dismissal at the end? A skilled interviewer will make all candidates feel comfortable and positive throughout the entire process. 

Sometimes you may not be the right person for the job. In that case, an interview will come to an abrupt end. Are you feeling ushered out of the door? Take it as a sign, make a professional exit, and move on to the next opportunity.

If this ever happens to you, do not feel discouraged. Bad interviews and bad interviewers are much more common than you may think. Be sure always to turn up well-prepared and ready to do your best.


Perfect your interviewing skills

Interview prep is a must, but you don’t have to handle it on your own. Join Monster for free today. As a member, you’ll get career advice, interview tips, and job-search advice sent right to your inbox to help you become a top-tier candidate. You’ll learn all about salary negotiation, getting that long wanted promotion, and even how to land a higher-paying job. Let Monster show you how to leave a lasting (positive) impression on every employer you meet.