The process of getting a job can get really long, intense and sometimes dreadful. From cleaning up your CV and applying for jobs online, to waiting around for weeks to get just one interview, there really isn’t any fun in it. What can make it even more frustrating is if you’re not getting any real feedback from the recruiters, hiring managers and interviewers, after weeks of getting rejected.

Having a basic understanding of how you’re being received by the interviewer can help you decide how to move forward and how much time you expect to invest into getting this particular job. Every interview is different and every interviewer has their own style, which might make it difficult for you to gauge how well your interview is going. But there are always a few general and universal signs that you can look out for from your interviewer. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of signs to help you determine when your interview is just not going well. For a much more hopeful list of signs that you might get a call back, check out our article ‘5 Signs that Your Interview is Going Well.’

If you see these signs during your interview, don’t panic or get defensive. Stay calm and get through the rest of the interview respectfully and professionally. And don’t forget that everyone has bad days and it might just be one of those days for your interviewer.


1. The interviewer doesn’t remember your name well.

Depending on the size of the company, the interviewer may have seen hundreds of applicants on paper, so it might be understandable that they don’t exactly know your home town and your mother’s maiden name. However, most interviewers come prepared to their interview, having read the candidate’s CV. Remembering your name, at least for the duration of the interview, is the least they can do as part of their job.

If your interviewer asks for your name or has to look down at your CV for your name multiple times, then it can be a sign that your CV didn’t leave an impression on them. It is likely that you’re not a memorable candidate and they don’t intend to hire you. The interview is likely just part of their recruitment process, like screening most candidates in person.

When you notice your interviewer forgetting your name, however, try not to be offended. Instead, try your best to leave a positive impression and something memorable about yourself.


2. The interviewer is displaying negative body language.

If the interviewer is not making eye contact, leaning away from you, seeming distracted or crossing their arms, it might be a sign that they’re not totally impressed with you. Negative body language like these can be subtle but powerful. Other signs can include stiff facial expressions and gestures. If the interviewer doesn’t smile at all or gives you slight smiles with pursed lips, or their shoulders are stiff like they’re not relaxed, you may need to come to terms with the fact that you haven’t excited them as a candidate.

Don’t panic or give up too easily, though. Try subtly displaying positive body language in response to their negative ones. Smile, make eye contact and have welcoming body gestures like relaxed shoulders instead of closed arms. Of course, don’t overdo it as you can seem overwhelming, and the key is to always remain respectful and professional.


3. The interviewer drills you about your weaknesses and gaps in your CV.

Most of the time, interviewers will move onto the next topic without digging too deep after your answers to questions like “What are your biggest weaknesses?”, “Why did you leave your last job?” and “Why did you take a year off between X and Y?”

It’s expected that your answers will naturally kick off a new conversation about your life, experience and skills. However, it may not be a great sign if your interviewer dwells on your weaknesses and repeatedly asks you questions that would make anyone feel under fire. It may not be unusual for interviewers to challenge their interviewees, but it is normally done with professionalism and without the interrogative tone.


4. The interviewer is not saying much.

If your interviewer seems to keep running out of things to say to you, it can mean that they just aren’t interested in you as a candidate. An intrigued interviewer who wants to know more about you will ask you questions without you prompting them. An interviewer who is struggling to make comments that are longer than one-word answers or ask you follow-up questions to your responses, is most likely not wanting to find out more about you.

If you notice this happening in your interview, try not to respond back in a similar style with short answers. Instead, ask questions about the interviewer or the company to get them talking, which can increase their enthusiasm.


5. The interview doesn’t last long.

If your interview is considerably shorter than you expected and you feel like you haven’t even really had the chance to speak more than a few words, it is likely that you won’t get a call back from this company. An interviewer who sees potential in you and is enjoying your company won’t be so eager to get rid of you.

If your interviewer is starting to wrap up just after a few minutes, don’t let the opportunity slip away and ask some questions. While you can’t make the interviewer take any more interest in you, you can at least still have the chance to tell them more about yourself or try to make a good impression.


Other signs of an interview that’s going pear shaped can include an interviewer who is overly negative about the position you’re applying for, doesn’t ask about your accomplishments and is downright rude to you. Again, however, don’t let these signs get the best of you. Charge through it and try your best to make a good impression. At the end of the day, getting through a tough interview without losing your cool is great practice for you, and you’ll learn something each time about yourself or the industry and its interview processes. Plus, your ability to respond professionally to an interviewer that is really testing you may end up impressing them. Another thing to keep in mind is that it could be the interviewer’s first interview too, and they might just be nervous. Or they might just not be experienced in conducting interviews.

Additionally, it’s important to maintain a respectful and professional tone throughout an interview that you think is already doomed. Even if you don’t end up getting the job, you can still benefit from the interview by treating it as a great source of honest feedback about your interview style. On the other hand, if you end up getting defensive, rude or acting even slightly unprofessional, that may leave too strong of a negative impression on the interviewer for them to be able to give you any kind of constructive feedback.

With all of the above said, the most important thing to remember is that you can’t impress everyone. Some people might just not like you through no fault of your own, and that can happen from time to time. Keep your chin up and your confidence high, and move onto the next one!