READING BODY LANGUAGE
Firstly, you need to ascertain whether things are going as badly as you feel they are.
If your interviewer doesn’t maintain eye contact, that can be a bad sign. Crossing of arms, leaning away from you or looking around for an escape route are the types of negative body language you should be looking for. Sometimes these can be countered. For example, if they lean away you can lean in to show enthusiasm.
THE INTERVIEWER SEEMS DISTRACTED
If the interviewer is checking texts or emails or doesn’t seem to be listening to your answers, you need to take steps to engage with them. Stay focused and don’t lose hope. They may have been interviewing a lot of people and have just zoned out from the process. Think back to the job spec and remember what it is that they are really looking for. You can even reference the job advert (which shows that you have taken it onboard) and how you meet the criteria. Even ask their opinion in order to break the interviewer out of their trance.
If the interviewer does not smile throughout the interview, no matter how witty you are, don’t lose heart. And definitely don’t change your personality in an attempt to curry favour. You have enough to concentrate on in the interview and you will tie yourself in knots trying to be what other people want. If they aren’t smiling it could be because they are having a bad day or it could just be that they never smile. Be yourself, be professional and keep selling why you are a perfect fit for the company.
If they are pausing to think of the next question, it may be that they are inexperienced at the interviewing side or it could be that they haven’t read your CV properly. Either way, this is a chance to shine. Use their silence. Not everything you do in the interview must be reactive. Remember the elements of the job spec you thought matched your skills and start selling yourself.
‘THE OTHER CANDIDATES’
Don’t be deterred when the interviewer mentions other candidates. Sometimes an interviewer will slip up and confuse you with another person, or they talk about how strong the competition is. It can dent your pride but brush the dust off your shoulder and continue on. You are there in the interview for a reason because you are as good as the competition. Similarly, if they don’t seem overly enthused by your experience or skills, someone, perhaps not in the room, saw that you have what they’re looking for, so a further round of interviews may get you the job in the end.
The interviewer starts throwing questions at you rapidly, challenging you, being confrontational. This can be tough. If the interviewer isn’t reading your body language correctly and continues down this path, you can and should leave the interview.
If, on the other hand, you see that they are just trying out a strategy that they perhaps saw work in a movie and are foolishly trying to translate it to real life, keep composed and don’t let them goad you into being confrontational yourself.
If they dwell on negative aspects of your CV or your answer to the question about your biggest weakness for a long time and refuse to move on and you start to feel cold sweat on your back, stay positive. Don’t be afraid. All you can do is ride it out and try and turn the conversation back to positives.
At all points, you should be noting the behaviour of the interviewer and the company to gauge whether you would want to work for them. The interview works both ways.
Just because someone ends the interview by offering you a limp handshake, it doesn’t mean the interview was a failure. Some people just shake hands like that.
If they don’t mention the next steps, be proactive. They might not be sure if you’re right for the job but if you admit that you are very interested in the job and ask them what happens next, your keenness may be the positive ending to the interview which sticks in their memory.
If they tell you to follow up with their assistant, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a chance, they may be busy and can’t spend any further time on the process.
Even if you feel it went badly, still send a positive letter or email to the interviewer, thanking them for the opportunity and reiterating the reasons why you are perfect for the role. This can have the effect of changing the perception of you in the mind of decision-maker from an aloof, couldn’t-care-less candidate, to a charming, enthusiastic employee. The email is also a great way of conveying concrete info that you didn’t get a chance to bring to their attention.