How To Tell If You're Not Getting the Job

Waiting for a job offer can be tedious, but signs that indicate how to tell if you're not getting the job can help with the stress.

Photo by Rockie Nolan

Getting a new job isn't easy, especially in today's economy. The most promising sign that things are going to work out in your favor is getting an interview with the company. For many people, getting an interview is often accepted as a sign that you're getting the job. But, this isn't always the case; many make it up to the interview without actually succeeding in obtaining a new position. 

If you've been going to interviews, you might be wondering if you have a chance at getting the job you really want. We hate to burst your bubble, but HR reps are saying that you're not getting the job you notice the following signs. 

They seem to be going through the motions.

HR reps are basically required to bring in a certain number of applicants, even if they have already chosen someone. With people that they feel aren't what they're looking for, or if they already selected a candidate, they will keep the questions as superficial and standard as possible. 

People who are going through the motions will also do what they can to get you in and out of the office as quickly as possible. They may even cut your interview short. If they're looking at their watches, speeding up your answers, and seemingly just skipping over questions, then you're not getting the job. 

The interviewer's overall attitude is icy.

Photo by Nicolas Bloise

In a lot of ways, interviewing for a new job is a lot like trying to fit into a new clique of kids in high school. If you don't fit the culture or what they want in a coworker, you're not going to get the job. Depending on the culture of the company, this may also mean that the interviewers may begin to act like high schoolers trying to politely (or not so politely) reject a would-be friend. 

A very good indicator that the company doesn't want to hire you is if the person who talks to you acts cold and icy towards you. Things like not smiling when you try to crack a joke, talking over you, or otherwise giving you the "too cool" attitude is a good sign that they don't want to hire you - now or ever. 

You know you made a major mistake during the interview.

Generally speaking, most people know when they messed up an interview. Things like coming in unprepared, not arriving on time, dressing poorly for the occasion, or babbling all tend to be major gaffes that can sink an otherwise good chance at getting hired. 

If you are pretty certain you screwed up, take care. It can be worse. Even so, you shouldn't be surprised if your resume gets passed over in favor of another candidate. First impressions do count, after all. 

The people who you were supposed to interview with got switched up.

This isn't always an indicator of certain doom, but it is a bad sign according to most HR reps. If you were supposed to meet with five people, but only two show up, that suggests that they already made a decision. If you were supposed to meet with the big boss but you ended up with a secretary, it's a sign that it's game over. 

Though there is a small chance that you may end up getting the job, these kinds of staff switchups are a sign that you shouldn't be hopeful about your hiring. 

They didn't talk money.

If a company wants to hire you, they will make a point of talking about compensation with you. After all, no one will work for free these days. If you were the one who had to broach money talks, or if they just glossed over it entirely, then it's a sign they don't want to hire you. 

They didn't give you a clear timetable.

Much like with the compensation talk, hiring managers that are really gung-ho about onboarding a person will talk timetables immediately. They'll tell you when you should expect a reply, and possibly even ask when you can start on the spot. 

If they aren't giving you a timetable, keep searching for a job. This company isn't going to give you a job. 

They use a kiss-off phrase.

Kiss-off phrases often sound innocuous, but really are a polite way of saying that it's not going to happen. If you hear a kiss-off phrase, you're not getting the job, plain and simple. The following are the most common ones managers use when they decide it's not going to fit. 

  • "You're overqualified."
  • "We'll call you." 
  • "We're still looking at candidates."
  • "Best of luck."

The company rep you interviewed with looked at you sympathetically and offered you career advice.

Ouch, just ouch. 

This is a pretty terrible sign for you on a number of levels, because it means that your impression was so bad that they didn't only decide against you but also felt sorry enough for you to offer career advice. 

In some cases, this is a subtle way that reps may choose to tell you that they're not going to hire you, but that they understand that it's rough out there. Either way, you may want to listen to their advice when you look for another job out there. 

The people who interviewed you were way too casual.

Photo by Phoebe Chauson

If the person in question gets very chummy, puts his feet up on the desk, or is eating a bag of chips while they talk to you, this isn't always a sign that he's relaxed around you and wants to hire you. 

The reason that person may have been so casual with you is because they didn't take you seriously, or because they had already chosen a candidate. In other words, they were taking the opportunity of "interviewing you" as a miniature break from "real work."

The company didn't respond to your email.

Yes, this is a sign that you're probably not getting the job. It's the corporate version of ghosting, and while it's definitely not cool, it does happen. Companies that are interested in hiring you will always reply to emails, and will be enthusiastic about it. 

They've reposted the job that you applied for.

Sadly, if you've already interviewed with them and they reposted the job, it's a surefire sign that you're not going to be getting hired anytime soon. After all, if they wanted to hire you, they wouldn't need to repost that job listing. 

On a similar note, if an outside recruiter has called you up to apply to that job after you've interviewed, that's also a sign that it's game over. That indicates that they told a recruiting company that everyone they interviewed didn't fit. 

When you're talking to them, they really don't seem interested.

A very big sign that things are not looking good for you is if they just don't seem interested in anything you say. At times, it's not even overt like seeing the person checking their watch or rolling their eyes. Sometimes, you might just "feel" that they aren't into it. If that happens, then chances are high that they don't want to hire you. 

The position has been put "on hold."

There's some good news and some bad news to hearing this from an HR rep. The bad news is that you're not getting the job. The good news is that the most common reason they'd say this is because the company isn't doing well and is currently restructuring things. So, at the very least, it's not your fault. 

Another incarnation of this is when you hear that the job is "awaiting budgetary approval." In other words, they were potentially hiring a person just in case they can afford it - which they probably can't. 

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How To Tell If You're Not Getting the Job