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How to tell you’re tanking your interview (and what to do about it)

When you’re sitting down with a hiring manager, it can often feel more like you’re settling into a game of black jack rather than a job interview. Because hiring managers tend to hold their cards pretty close, concealing their thoughts on your candidacy within the professional conversation. And you’re often left wondering how well you played your hand. 

Thirty three per cent of hiring managers have admitted to knowing within 90 seconds if they want to continue with your candidacy, and the following subtle cues may indicate they won’t be pursuing yours.

It’s a short interview

A successful interview should be around a minimum of 40 to 60 minutes. If it’s going really well, it can even last much longer and you’ll meet with more than one interviewer. Although, don’t be too discouraged if the meeting is shorter. It isn’t always a negative sign. 

What to do: Charles Liikson, a Technical Recruiter explains, “Depending on the role and industry, a lot of clients are super busy and they just want to check the communication skills and professionalism. If they love what they see on paper and you impress them with the intangibles in 15-20 minutes, that often will be enough to get the job.” When the interview is drawing to a close, put your pre-interview research to use and ask informed questions directly related to the company, position and culture. If the hiring manager wants to impress you, his or her answers will indicate their level of interest.  

You’re walking on easy street

If the hiring manager isn’t asking you any hard questions directly related to the job function, it could indicate that you aren’t being seriously considered for the position. When you aren’t given the opportunity to demonstrate your problem solving skills or how you think on your feet, the hiring manager may not be convinced you have the must-have skills required.  

What to do: Steer the conversation towards your candidacy. Take the initiative to highlight your career milestones in correlation to the job description or company. Afshan Arouj, a Technical Recruiter with Procom adds, “Take a couple of seconds to think about your answer, provide a real life work example and avoid using theory.”

Body language

Body language speaks volumes. Does the hiring manager seem distracted? Is there a lack of eye contact? Are they more interested in their phone than the conversation? “Body language could be a number one indicator that the hiring manager isn’t interested,” Charles admits. 

What to do: Don’t mirror the mannerisms. Charles explains, “Make sure your body language is very good. Sit up straight, lean forward a little and speak clearly as you connect your experience to the role, company and culture.” You want to maintain a respectful and professional demeanor; even if the hiring manager doesn’t think you’re the right fit for their role, he or she may know of another opportunity.

You aren’t being sold

If you aren’t hearing about why the company is such a great place to work, it may be because they don’t think you’re the right fit to be working there. Sure, you want to sell yourself and your skills, but when a hiring manager finds who they want to hire, it’s also a part of their job to sell their company as an attractive option.

What to do: The right fit is a requirement for both the job seeker and the employer, and although you should refrain from asking questions about incentives or benefits, ensure you ask about the company culture. Do you want to work there? Make a list of traits you find most attractive in a company, and make sure your recruiter is aware of your preferences. 

The silence is loud

When there are long gaps in between questions or you feel like the hiring manager is trying to think of what to ask next, it can be because he or she doesn’t know how to handle their lack of interest. Sure, it could be a hectic day, but if it seems like your resume is being viewed for the first time or your background is completely foreign to them, it could be because it is.

What to do: Stay professional, confident and friendly – but don’t stay silent. Use the gaps as an opportunity to highlight success scenarios or turn the conversation by asking informed questions of your own that can encourage a natural discussion.  

When it comes to job interviews, it’s unlikely for a hiring manager to provide you with feedback, but they will give the goods to your recruiter. So if you want to impress a potential employer, ask your recruiter on the areas on which you can improve.

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How to tell you’re tanking your interview (and what to do about it)

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