How to tell if the interview isn't going well (And how to turn it around)
Over the years, I've worked with many clients who were complete rockstars during business meetings, one-on-ones, and brainstorming sessions. They were personable, poised, and professional. But for some reason during our mock interview sessions, they would interview horribly.
The interview is your one time to shine and many people don't realize when it's not going well. While you may be perfectly capable of doing a job, your prospective employer doesn't know that. They also don't know if you are easy to work with, a team player, or possess any of the "soft skills" that are harder to articulate.
Believe it or not, there are signs to look out for during the interview that lets you know if you've still got a shot. Below are 3 ways to tell if the interview isn't going well - and how to turn it around.
1. You're doing most of the talking
Over the years, I've surmised that the best interviews should run like conversations. This doesn't mean that you should interact with your hiring manager like a longtime friend, but remember - most employers don't enjoy the hiring process. It takes up valuable time from priority areas so if they are simply nodding along as you ramble - you may need to reel it in.
Tip: Pause for a moment and ask "did that answer your question?" It's perfectly fine to ask interviewers if you gave them what they were looking for. This indicates that you are open to feedback and self-aware.
2. Your interviewer is doing most of the talking
Similar to the first point, interviews are about balance. If your interviewer is doing a lot more of the talking than you are, they either 1) do not have much interest in filling the position with the right person - just A person 2) are trying to fill up space that you should be filling or 3) are extremely talkative.
Tip: Assuming that the issue is 2 (which is often paired with additional questions and expectant stares as hiring managers start thinking "that's it?" when a prospective candidate gives short answers), fully flesh out your answer. This means that almost under no circumstances are answers like "yes" "no" or "I don't know" acceptable. A question about a past position should be answered with a brief accompanying example. You can also gauge the quality of your response by stating "this also aligns with my experience at X company, if you'd like a further example".
3. The interviewer is not writing anything down (and does not discuss next steps)
This indicates that the interviewer either hates writing notes or, more likely, does not think you are a viable candidate. Typically, hiring managers interview a lot of people and will want to write things down even if they don't plan on rereading the notes. Notes help them identify you from the other candidates, even if it's a star or a few circled words on your resume.
Tip: If you don't notice this until the very end, it may be too late to salvage the interview. But if early enough, I suggest taking control of the interview momentarily by asking the interviewer a question. This redirects the focus and shifts the flow, as questions are typically asked at the very end. Something like "what prompted the opening of this position/ how was the role crafted/ what are your expectations of a candidate in 30-90 days?" can drastically change how the interviewer regards you and what you can bring to the table.