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9/13/15 - 4 Signs You’re NOT Acing the Interview – And How to Fix It

Heather Huhman 

You stand up, shake the interviewer’s hand, and head home happy that you nailed the interview. A week later...still no call.

What went wrong? The interview went so smoothly, didn’t it?

In a December 2014 survey of 2,100 hiring and HR managers, CareerBuilder found 50 percent of hiring managers know enough about a candidate to make a hiring decision within the first five minutes. Wait 15 minutes, and 90 percent of interviewers will have you pegged.

In other words, that “smooth” interview could just mean the hiring manager decided from the very beginning you’re not the right fit and is going through the motions.

How do you know for sure? Here are four telltale signs your interviewer isn’t interested and how to turn your performance around:

1. You’re only getting easy questions.

It may seem like a dream come true, but when an interviewer pitches you only the easy questions, odds are you’re not seriously being considered for the position. Harder questions -- the ones that challenge candidates to think on their feet and solve problems they may encounter on the job -- are a way for interviewers to gauge how prepared candidates are for the role and determine if they are a good fit for the organization.

If you find yourself continuously answering simple questions that don’t give you an opportunity to connect your experiences with the skills required for the job, it could mean the interviewer doesn’t think you’re a strong enough candidate to explore deeper.

What to do about it: Be assertive. Tell your interviewer you have a question and say something like: “In my last position, I was often required to do XYZ. I’ve noticed this position requires similar experience. How does XYZ play into the daily responsibilities of the role?”

2. The interviewer doesn’t ask about your availability to start.

The company you’re interviewing with has a spot to fill, and they’ll want to fill it as soon as possible. To do so, it has a number of things to prepare: pay schedule, new hire paperwork, employee orientation, and more. All those things take planning, so an interested interviewer will want to know when you can start.

If the interviewer doesn’t ask about your availability, it may be a sign that your resume isn’t near the top of the pile.

What to do about it: Turn the tables on the interviewer. Instead of waiting until you’re asked about your availability, mention how interested you are in the position and how you excited you would be to get started right away (or in five days, a week, at the end of the month, etc.). You never know, your confidence and interest may change the interviewer’s opinion of you.

3. The interviewer doesn’t discuss the rest of the hiring process.

Today, most organizations have prolonged hiring processes that may include multiple interviews, pre-hire assessments, writing samples, portfolio submissions and more. If you’re a good fit for the position, the interviewer will talk with you about their hiring process and what you can expect in the days to come.

If you hear, “Thanks for your time, good luck with the rest of your job search,” you’re probably not on the short list.

What to do about it: Be confident and proactive (do you see a pattern?). Take a moment as the interview is wrapping up to summarize why you’re a great fit for the position. Then, ask the interviewer what the next steps in the hiring process are and when you can expect to hear from them.

4. Your interview is shorter than scheduled.

Your interview is scheduled for 30 minutes, but between the interviewer’s questions and yours, you’re out of there in 15. That’s a good thing right? Not really.

Sometimes, a short interview is the result of poor scheduling that leaves the interviewer strapped for time. Most of the time, however, it’s the result of an interviewer making an early decision about your fit and trying to move on to the next candidate sooner rather than later.

These interviews are often characterized by a one-to-one question-to-answer ratio. In other words, the interviewer asks a question, you give an answer, and the interview continues -- there isn’t much back and forth.

What to do about it: Create your own back and forth. Make sure you have a list of questions before the interview that you can refer to if you think you’re not getting the consideration you deserve. Then, find ways to ask your questions as follow-ups to engage the interviewer and help yourself stand out.

Heather R. Huhman is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.