Most job applicants believe that a short interview typically signals disaster. Usually, the interviewer will explain why the meeting is cut short when they’re unexpectedly required elsewhere. But it’s pretty normal to feel concerned if the interview duration is only a fraction of the allocated time, with no explanation. So is a short job interview a bad sign for your prospects? Find out here.
What does a short interview imply?
It could be that all interested parties already have all the information required, and often, a short interview could mean that you did a great job when everyone gets on the same page quickly. The best advice is not to panic…
The longer you wait for feedback after a brief interview, it’s almost impossible not to overanalyze every word you said. So, how do you interpret an interview that only lasted 10 or 15 minutes?
Fortunately, assuming you made severe errors during the interview is often groundless, and you should not jump to conclusions. Most applicants often misread a few interview indicators, so continue reading for an in-depth discussion of which issues you should not worry about too much.
Let’s talk about the five interview indicators or markers that concern job seekers globally.
The interview runs abnormally short
Sometimes the decision-maker already knows they want to offer you the job and meet with you so that you can ask any questions you may have or resolve any uncertainties. Often HR only needs the hiring manager’s ‘okay’ before making an offer. If this is the case, don’t fall for the temptation of asking questions for the sake of it. Thank the interviewer for their time, and leave graciously if you don’t have questions.
The interviewer doesn’t pay much attention to eye contact
If the interviewer seems particularly occupied with their computer screen, it’s often merely a good way for them to keep track of work happening back in the office. Or they may have notes about questions they want to ask, or HR’s impressions of you are in front of them. Hiring new staff often means decision-makers have to keep notes to justify onboarding new employees.
Also, it’s often a case of having job descriptions in front of them to track what types of questions to ask.
What? No business card?
It’s easy to conclude that they have no intention of hiring you, and they won’t even “waste a business card” on you. It’s particularly frustrating if you intend to send a thank you email after the interview. The truth is that some people genuinely don’t have a card with them, especially if the interview is in a venue other than the interviewer’s office.
A “parting gift”
This is truly misunderstood regularly – usually, the applicant assumes that receiving a gift means the journey is over and it’s time to accept the “worst-case scenario”.
Depending on the company, managers often have corporate gifts placed strategically throughout the office for growing brand awareness. Sometimes it’s merely a habit to gift visitors to the office with a branded pen or water bottle. So, stop yourself if you think of it as a “consolation prize” because you didn’t make it.
No next steps
Several team members are involved during the corporate hiring process, so there could be no next steps… yet. If the interviewer cannot indicate what happens next, it doesn’t mean you failed, but simply that the internal hiring process is more involved than you suspected, and this is a pretty typical occurrence.
Keep in mind that key staff members may be out of the office for a time or that someone needs to sign off on the decision and their schedule is exceedingly full – many elements in the procedure could put a hold or uncertainty on the final decision. It does not mean they hate you! Perhaps ask about their process and listen carefully; it could be part of your way to learning more about the organization.
Now you know why you shouldn’t worry or create anxiety around the brief interview, let’s look at other good signs you’ll find during an interview, regardless of its duration.
Good signs during shorter interviews
- Consider body language. When they lean toward you, it shows interest.
- Good eye contact and smiles or other reactions, while you talk, mean they’re really listening.
- People tend to get friendlier during the interview when you’re making a good impression or answering questions satisfactorily.
- When the interviewer starts ‘selling’ the company to you, it may indicate they want you, especially if they talk about what it’s like working there.
- Discussing your availability to start working with them and confirming your current resignation term may be an excellent indicator, but it’s not always a sure thing!
Unfortunately, sometimes your instincts about an interview result will be enough to suggest that you won’t get a job offer, and perhaps you discover that you don’t feel as keen to join them after all. So, let’s look at some “bad signs”.
Bad signs in short interviews
After the interview, consider the following clues that indicate things didn’t go so well:
- The interviewer’s smiles disappeared as the interview progressed.
- You got the impression the interviewer’s thoughts were not genuinely with you; you could almost ‘feel’ their interest waning.
- As you answered questions, did their eyes become narrower instead of staying open, and as you talked, did their body language become ‘stiffer’, or was there no nodding or encouragement? These behaviors indicate some form of disapproval or concern.
- If you feel brushed off when you ask about the next steps and get a vague or disinterested response, you should probably trust your instincts.
The bottom line with interviews is that you’re not going to get every job you interview for, and more often than not, it’s better not to end up in a position you’re not suited to. Take a deep breath, brush yourself off, and keep going.
Somewhere your perfect job is just waiting for you, and in the meantime, you’re practicing your interview skills!