When an applicant discovered the hiring manager was from West Virginia shortly after making a West Virginia joke, it was a fairly blatant sign that the interview was not going well. This real-life example was in the November 2005 "Washingtonian" article "Great Places to Work: Interview Horror Stories." Other bad interview examples included a nervous applicant who accidentally spit gum in the interviewer's face and a hiring manager asked to leave his own office mid-interview while the applicant took a call on his cellphone.
You Make a Basic Mistake
Making a fundamental mistake is virtually guaranteed to result in a bad interview. Such mistakes include keeping the interviewers waiting, wearing inappropriate dress or talking too much. An April 2008 "CareerBuilder" article by Rosemary Haefner, titled "Top 10 Biggest Interview Mistakes," said that 49 percent of employers felt that complaining about a former boss was the biggest mistake an applicant could make.
An applicant's attitude--toward the receptionist and support staff, not just the interviewers--can make the difference between a good interview and bad interview. A "CareerBuilder" article from August 2010, by Kaitlin Madden and titled "10 Hiring Manager Deal Breakers," found that negativity was a turn-off for employers. The candidate who complained at length about the visibility of the company sign lost the job opportunity. The "Washingtonian" article also discusses an applicant who flipped off another driver in the parking garage, only to discover it was the interviewer.
The interviewer's body language can reveal clues about whether the interview is going well. Signs of a bad interview include the interviewer looking at her watch, checking her phone, staring aimlessly out the window, failing to take notes or not asking follow up questions. Similarly, your own body language can cause the hiring manager concern. Slouching, a limp handshake or failing to smile hurt your chances.
Sometimes you can do everything right, but the interview still won't go well, because of a bad interviewer. A July 2008 "CareerBuilder" article from consulting group Robert Half International, titled "Making the Best of a Bad Interviewer," identifies five types of interviewers that can cause a bad interview. The "first-timers" are likely nervous and highly scripted. Going off topic or away from their list of questions is likely to cause them anxiety. The "silent type" gives minimal responses and little interaction, so it can be difficult to elicit any information about the job--or how the interview is going. On the other end of the spectrum, the "never-ending interviewer" can't seem to stop talking, even about completely irrelevant subjects. The "intimidating interviewer" reveals details that immediately let you know the job is not what you were looking for, and the "distracted interviewer" barely turns his attention from his phone to tell you about the job at all.