What To Do When Your Interviewer Checks Out

Over the fifteen plus years that I’ve been in the professional workforce, I’ve worked for five different companies.  The journey for those jobs included many more interviews along the way.

As much as I’d like to think I’m awesome enough to have nailed every interview I’ve ever been on, the truth is that I haven’t.  Some interviews I have known pretty much right off the bat that they liked me and that I would get an offer (or at least proceed to the next round).  Twice, I had that feeling and never did get a call back, so my radar is sometimes off.

But, there are also times when you go into a job interview, and at a certain point in the scheduled time, you can see the interviewer make up his or her mind, and not in a positive way.  Whether it’s a flash of an eye, a shift in their position, or other language, there are times when you can see the interviewer close their book on you and check out of the interview.

Now, unless this happens at the end of the interview, they’re not going to just end it.  You’ll still have to complete the process.

But, what do you do if you visibly see the interviewer check out of the interview.  Here are a things that I think are critical and will only lead to success….in a future interview.

  • Don’t check out.  If you see the interviewer check out, that doesn’t mean you should do the same.  Finish the interview, answer the questions, and remain as professional as possible.  You should put forth your best effort in every second of every interview.  No exceptions exist for that rule, ever.
  • Don’t try to change his or her mind.  One thing that you can do when you see your interviewer check out is take it as a challenge and look at it as an opportunity to change their mind.  This is a bad idea.  As someone that’s interviewed many people, the truth is that once they’ve decided you’re a ‘no’, then that’s that.  Trying to change their mind after that happened is likely going to do nothing more than annoy them and extend the interview when the outcome is going to be the same.
  • Follow through as normal.  Thank the interviewer with the same sincerity that you would if you felt the job was yours, and same goes for sending a thank you note.  The fact is that you never know when you might run across the person interviewing you again or get another opportunity at the same company with someone else doing the interview.  There’s  a big difference between not being the right person for the job and not being the right person for any job.
  • Realize you might have misread the situation.  As I’ve gotten more experienced, I’ve gotten better at reading people that are interviewing me.  If you misread a signal, you might think the interview is over, only to find out that you were wrong.  That’s another reason why you make sure to give it your all.  You never know.
  • Evaluate what happened.  After the interview ends and you’re back home, take some time to evaluate what happened.  Put yourselves in the shoes of the person doing the interview and see what might have led to their decision.  Was it experience that they were looking for?  Was it something you said or didn’t say?  You may be able to learn something that you can use to improve yourself for your next interview wherever that may end up being.
  • Don’t beat yourself up.  Sometimes, no matter what you come up with in the evaluation, it may come out that there simply was nothing you could have done.  Maybe the person that interviewed before you had knocked it out of the park and the person interviewing had already made up their mind.  Stuff happens.  Let it roll off.

The same principles can be applied in reverse.  I’ve interviewed for jobs where, once the interview started and I learned a little bit more about the company or position, I knew right away that I was not interested in the position.   One time, I had an interview through a contract company working in the IT department at the City of Detroit.  I was cautiously optimistic, but as soon as I went in and saw the environment, I knew it wasn’t for me.  There was just a sense of bureaucracy and red tape that I knew I would not be able to handle effectively.  Still, at no point in the interview did I give anything less than my best.

That’s the key.  Give your best and realize that your best is not going to be what everybody else is looking for.  Most times, there’s nothing personal about that.  It’s just business.

Have you ever had your interviewer check out during the process?  What were the circumstances?  How did you react?

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10 thoughts on “What To Do When Your Interviewer Checks Out

  1. One good tip I’ve seen for these situations is to wait until the end, when it’s your chance to ask questions, then ask something like, “Are there any concerns you have about my suitability for this position?” It’s very blunt and direct, but if you are polite and confident, you might get a chance to address some of the reasons why the interviewer has seemed negative.
    CF recently posted..Why I use a car shareMy Profile

    • Very true though I’ve found that most hiring managers don’t get too specific on feedback, probably for liability purposes.

  2. The real mystery is when you don’t see any telltale sign and they do not offer you the job. In the past when I saw these signs , I made sure I resell or summarize my skills and experience. I also try to make sure we connected on some point or two because most people hire people they like.
    krantcents recently posted..Retirement and a Stool!My Profile

    • I’ve also gotten to the point where if I don’t see some very encouraging signs, that in and of itself tells me that it’s probably a no. So even a ‘poker face’ is a no.

    • Turn the negative rejection into a positive learning experience and just realize it was not meant to be!

    • Mostly body language. I’m pretty good at picking up on non-verbal communication so I can get a feel for when someone goes from actually paying attention to just sort of paying attention, even if they don’t mean to show it.

  3. i have been on both sides of an interview that has gone horribly wrong.. and if it starts to become clear that your skill-set doesn’t match they are looking for, then you can always try the “quick learner, good fit” angle…
    jefferson @SeeDebtRun recently posted..Should You Refinance Your Home Loan… Again?My Profile

    • I’ve never had one go horribly wrong to where I was embarrassed or anything like that. I’m thankful for that, anyways!

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