Interviews can be difficult to read sometimes. You go into an office and sit down with your folder carrying your resume and portfolio if you have one. You have some small talk and chit chat about your commute over or the weather outside, and then you dive into your work experience and skills. Talking about yourself might feel awkward, and you may be nervous as is already. To make matters worse, the interviewer may be a difficult person with whom to connect.
It may dawn on them or even you at some point throughout the interview that it's just not a fit. But, of course, that's not always immediately or obviously apparent, especially since you're both probably putting on your most professional fronts.
So how can you know whether or not your interview is going well?
16 signs of a bad interview
Here are 16 signs that your interview is going south.
1. You get a bad gut feeling.
Always listen to your gut. If you just get a feeling that the interview isn't going in your favor, there's a chance that it's probably not. Just don't let your nerves be confused for your gut feeling.
2. The interviewer speaks of responsibilities that were nowhere in the job advertisement.
If the interviewer starts talking about all these tasks and parts of the job that were nowhere in the job advertisement, it may be a sign that you're interviewing for a completely different job and may not be equipped. It could also be a sign that the hiring manager isn't even sure what the job will actually be or what it will entail, which can also be a red flag.
3. The interviewer asks you discriminatory or illegal questions.
If the interviewer starts asking you discriminatory questions or illegal questions about your past salaries or your personal life (like marriage and children, for example), it's not a good sign that they're professional. They may also be looking for a reason not to hire you.
4. You learn more about the company and realize that you don't agree with the culture.
If you go into an interview with an open mind, but upon further conversation realize that the company culture is not your ideal, that's a sign that things may be going south on your end.
5. You notice negative body language from your interviewer.
Body language is hugely important. If you notice that your interviewer is not looking you in the eye or they're turned away from you, it may be because they don't feel the need to engage with you.
6. The interviewer keeps cutting you off or interrupting you.
If your interviewer keeps interrupting you as you speak, it could be a red flag that they're not actually interested in hearing what you have to say. They may also be socially unaware, which isn't a trait you want in somebody for whom you're working.
7. The interviewer starts mansplaining to you.
If your interviewer starts mansplaining the industry to you, this may not be someone for whom you'll want to work. It's also a sign that they don't trust your experience or feel confident that you actually know what you're doing.
8. You realize you don't know anything about the company.
If you're sitting in the interview and realize that you totally dropped the ball on doing your homework to research the company, it probably means that the interview is not going as well as it could have had you spent some time on it.
9. You give a blanket answer to why you want to work there.
If you don't know how to answer why you want to work there beyond that the company is impressive or has a big name or makes people a lot of money, etc., you probably don't belong working there.
10. You don't know how to answer why you're the best candidate for the job.
If you're not even sure why they should hire you, why should the hiring manager know why they should hire you?
11. The interviewer doesn't mention a follow-up interview or call.
Not all interviewers will mention a follow-up interview or call, as they may not want to put any false ideas in candidates' heads. So they may just close the interview thanking you for your time. That said, if they really want to consider you, they may very well mention a follow-up — so, if they don't, it could also be a bad sign.
12. The interviewer doesn't ask you about your experience or skills at all.
If the interviewer only sticks to small talk with you and they don't actually ask you about your experience or skills at all, it may be a sign that they don't care to know about your work or that they're not interested in having a professional conversation. While it could just be that they want to get to know you more as a person to see how well you'll fit in with the team, it could mean that they're not seriously considering you.
13. You realize that you're not equipped for the job responsibilities at hand.
If you're having a conversation with the interviewer and learning of different responsibilities for which you don't have the skills, it may be a sign that your interview is going south. After all, at some point you'll either have to lie about your skills or admit that you don't have the skills they need.
14. The interviewer questions your experience as if they don't believe you.
If the interviewer starts questioning you like a detective rather than a hiring manager, it could be because they see gaps in your resume or don't actually believe what you have to say.
15. The interviewer tells you that you're not who they're seeking for the role.
If the interviewer directly tells you that you're not who they want for the job, it doesn't get any clearer than that.
16. The interviewer cuts your interview early.
If your interviewer cuts your interview early, it may very well be because they needed to get back to work — but it could also be because they didn't want to waste any more of their own time or yours.
How to know you interview went well
Just like it's difficult to know if your interview is going south, it's just as tough to know if it's going well, some times. If none of the above happens, however, that's a good sign. For example, if your interviewer allows you to speak and shows engaged body language while you give complete and confident answers to their questions, that's a good sign!
How do you know if your interview was successful?
You'll know for sure that your interview was successful when you get a call back for another interview or a job offer. In the meantime, you can judge whether or not your interview was successful based mostly on how it concludes. Does your interviewer mention that they'll be in touch soon, or do they simply thank you for your time? Does your interviewer note that your experience and skills are impressive? Does your interviewer introduce you to others in the office?
How long does a good interview last?
There's no set time for a good interview. Some may last 15 minutes while others may last an hour. This all depends on how much there needs to be discussed, how many people are interviewing you, how busy the interviewers are and other factors.
If you can squeeze in a 15-minute conversation about the job and your skills, assuming they've already reviewed your resume and other application materials, that may be all they need to determine whether or not they want to hire you. Meanwhile, others may want to introduce you to several people in the office, test you on certain skills and have more in-depth conversations about your experiences.
That said, of course, an interview that's cut short is not a good sign.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.