Ideally, looking for a job would be a transparent process. You’d simply apply, interview, and get a yes or no right away. But unfortunately, that’s not how things go. Radio silence, vague responses, and shifting sentiment can often leave you wondering if you still have a chance of getting hired or if it’s time to move on.
Here are some common signs that you didn’t get the job, so you can start thinking about the next opportunity.
It’s important to note that there are many reasons why you won’t get a job offer that have nothing to do with you or your candidacy for the job. The best advice is to not make assumptions or read too much into the situation. You will only know for sure if you got the job when the company extends you an offer. Until that happens, always keep your job search active and continue looking for jobs.
1. The Company Keeps Pushing Back the Decision
Typically, hiring managers will provide you with a timeline for the hiring decision. They usually inform all candidates when they can expect to hear back. Waiting to get a call about a potential job offer can feel like torture, so knowing when to hear about the decision makes a big difference.
Unfortunately, some companies will push the decision back. At first, that’s not a major red flag. Hiring managers sometimes have to delay making that decision, and many factors could affect their original timeline.
But when you start to hear varying excuses, it could be a sign that you didn’t get the job.
Ideally, hiring managers will realize you’re right for the job quickly. After multiple interviews, they should have a general idea of who they want to hire. Even if you’re the second choice, most hiring managers have a sense of urgency to present job offers before good candidates move on to other options.
When a company continually pushes back and can’t decide whether to hire you or not, there’s a good chance that you’re not what they’re looking for. If the company truly wants to bring you on, they’ll let you know.
2. The Interview was Cut Short
How much time you spend speaking with an interviewer can vary based on many factors. For example, first-round interviews tend to be shorter than the discussions you have late in the hiring process. Either way, you expect to be there for a reasonable amount of time and have a fairly in-depth conversion.
So when an interviewer cuts your meeting short, there’s a good chance they believe that you’re not the right fit.
Interviewers are all about efficiency. They spend time in the meeting getting to know who you are, how qualified you are for the position, and how you’ll fit into the company culture. If you’re not what they’re looking for, companies aren’t going to invest more time with you than necessary.
It’s a blunt reality, but it’s not personal. Interviewers might see several people in one day, and they often spend weeks going over your potential for this job. If they already know you’re not the right person for the role, why waste their time or yours?
3. A New Listing For The Job Was Posted
If a job listing is newly posted after your interview, it could be a sign that you didn’t get the job. Relisting the job could happen because they want to restart their search.
If the original job posting is still up after you’ve interviewed, it’s entirely possible that the company hasn’t gotten around to removing the listing. However, candidates often read into this a bit too much. Some companies want to keep their options open in case their main choice (hopefully you) doesn’t accept, or the interview process is simply still ongoing.
This becomes a more useful indicator if it has also been a while since your interview and you haven’t heard back (or it’s coupled with some of the other signs on this list). That’s when an active listing could likely indicate that the company isn’t interested in hiring you.
4. It’s Clear That the Interviewer Isn’t Trying to Sell You on the Role
When most people think of job interviews, they picture themselves trying to sell a hiring manager on their potential. That’s a big part of the process! Your goal is to sell yourself in the interview as the best candidate possible and give employers many reasons to take a chance on you.
That said, it goes both ways. Companies should want to sell you on the role, too.
It’s always a good sign when you hear interviewers begin to highlight all the great things about working for the company. This usually occurs after learning more about you and your qualifications. They’ll pivot the conversation once they see that you could be a great addition to the team.
Interviewers may highlight the positive aspects of working for the company, give you more information about the role, or even offer to give you a tour of the office and meet some of the team. Once they start to sell you on the job, you know you’re doing well.
However, if that doesn’t happen, it could mean you didn’t get the job. Interviewers aren’t going to sell you on the job if they don’t plan on continuing to move you through the hiring process.
5. You’re Clearly Overqualified or Underqualified
Being either overqualified or underqualified for a role is never a good thing. Hiring managers are looking for people who meet the needs of the position to a tee. They want people who can succeed and feel satisfied with the work they are doing.
If you’re underqualified, interviewers will likely think that you’re incapable of fulfilling the role’s responsibilities. They may assume that you’re not ready or will require significant hand-holding to reach the level of success they need.
If you’re overqualified, they may think your interest in this job is only temporary. Hiring managers may worry you’ll get bored with the position and leave whenever another great opportunity arises. They may also worry about your salary expectations and your ability to stay motivated.
Some interviewers will come right out and say that you’re overqualified or underqualified. Others will bring it up indirectly through a line of questioning. They may even mention something casually.
Use your gut and pay attention to the interview questions and their tone. If they imply that your qualifications aren’t where they should be, you should continue looking for a job elsewhere.
6. You Haven’t Received a Response to Your Follow-Ups
Sending follow-up messages to interviewers or hiring managers is standard practice these days. Most companies will give you a general timeline of when you can expect to hear back. But when those estimated hiring decision dates pass, you can send follow-up emails to better understand where the company is in the process.
Unfortunately, some hiring managers never respond to those emails. Most are pretty good at keeping candidates updated on the hiring process. However, some avoid sending “we’re not interested” responses, essentially “ghosting” candidates.
If you don’t hear back, it could mean a couple of things. First, it might mean that the company went with another candidate. While it’d be nice if decision-makers informed other candidates of that fact, that doesn’t always happen.
A second possible scenario is that you’re an alternate choice. In that case, the company went with someone else but has your application on “reserve” just in case the first choice passes. Either way, not getting a response to follow-ups probably means you didn’t land the job.
7. The Interviewer Seems Distracted or Uninterested
Seeing an interview lose interest is never a good sign.
The interview process is supposed to be engaging. There should be a back-and-forth discussion. So it’s a big red flag when an interviewer begins to recite questions without paying much attention to your response or reciprocating to create a conversation. You may even notice the interviewer begins to stare out the window or focus entirely on the computer in front of them.
This scenario could mean many things. The interviewer may have realized you’re not the right fit for the job, so they’re now running out the clock. Here are other reasons the interviewer may seem distracted: They have no interest in what you’re saying, they already interviewed a great candidate, they are tired after a full day of interviewing, your answers aren’t hitting the mark or they are just not having a good day.
You may notice that the change in interest and behavior happens suddenly after a few minutes of real conversation. Alternatively, the interview could be tuned out from the start of the interview. In that case, they might have already decided they want to move forward with another candidate and are trying to get through your interview as quickly as possible.
8. It’s Clear That They’re Still Accepting Applications
We’ve already talked about how seeing the job posting still up could be a sign that you didn’t get the job. However, you might also hear that the company is still accepting applications through the grapevine.
If you know people inside the company, they may casually mention that hiring managers are struggling to fill the role. They might have extended the application window or reopened it after your interview.
You can also see signs that the company is still taking applications through its messaging online.
In some cases, you might receive contact from a recruiter who found your LinkedIn profile but didn’t realize that you’ve already applied.
9. The Interview Gets Canceled
Unfortunately, interviewers cancel meetings all the time.
Pay attention to how the company approaches the cancellation. If they reschedule it immediately, the issue could be as simple as scheduling conflicts. But if there’s no offer to reschedule at a later date, it’s likely a sign that you won’t get a job offer.
10. You Weren’t Given Much Information About the Position or Company
Generally, interviewers take time to provide as much information about the position as possible. Remember: They’re trying to sell you on the role just as much as you’re trying to sell them on your potential.
When an interviewer doesn’t go into the details of the role, it could mean they’re not interested. When a company is genuinely interested in making you a part of the team, they’ll review various aspects of your job. They’ll talk about responsibilities, who you’ll answer to, what the day-to-day is like, and more.
Not hearing that information is a cause for concern and could be a sign that you’re not going to get the job.
11. There Was Clear Pushback or Surprise at Your Salary Expectations
Salary negotiations typically happen right before you get hired, but interviewers can ask about it earlier in the process to get a vague idea about what you expect if offered the role.
Unfortunately, many companies don’t provide salary information upfront. Some will provide an estimated range on the listing, but they want to hear about what you expect to get.
It’s not a good sign when an interviewer or hiring manager balks at your salary expectations. Some people will outright tell you that your expectations are unrealistic. Others will keep that information to themselves, but they might roll their eyes or act surprised.
In some cases, interviewers will push back on your expectations. But if your expectations are way outside their range, you can expect the interview won’t lead to a job offer.
12. The Interviewer Questions if You’d Be a Good Fit for the Job
Here’s a sign that will require you to read between the lines.
Interviewers ask several different types of questions during your meeting. Some are more pointed and focused on the position. Others are about your work history or qualifications. They may also ask open-ended or situational questions.
What questions come out of the interviewer’s mouth matters. You can get a good idea of their thoughts based on how they word a question.
For example, if an interviewer doubts your ability to succeed in the role, they might mention your lack of qualifications or question things in your background that don’t align with the job. They could also discuss the work environment or overall company culture and ask how you fit into the mix.
If you sense any sort of doubt from the interviewer, it likely means that they’re not convinced you’re right for the job and you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t get a job offer.
13. You Weren’t Asked to Provide References
References play an important role in the hiring process. Companies may ask for references in your initial application, but interviewers often ask for them during the interview as you get close to the end of the process.
When an interviewer doesn’t ask you to provide references, it likely means they’re not interested in hiring you. Hiring managers will reach out to references once they narrow down their options. It comes much later in the process and is a form of due diligence decision-makers do before settling on a single candidate.
If the company isn’t interested in hiring you, they do not need a list of references. Therefore, not being asked to provide that information could be a sign that you didn’t get the job.
14. You’re Never Able to Get into Specifics
You likely didn’t get the job if the interviewer didn’t bother getting into specifics.
Hiring managers want to ensure you’re invested in this opportunity before moving forward. They need to know that you understand what you’re getting into. The last thing they want is to invest time and resources into onboarding you only for you to realize that the job isn’t right for you.
As a result, they typically go into the specifics. They’ll talk about your responsibilities and detail what the position entails, how their benefits and PTO policy work, introduce you to team members and give you a tour of their facility. If they don’t mention these things they should at least be open to answering your questions about them.
When they don’t do these things, they probably aren’t interested in further pursuing your candidacy.
15. You Didn’t Ask Any Questions
You should always ask questions during your interview. Interviewers usually leave time towards the end of your discussion to address your concerns and respond to any questions about the role that you have.
There are many questions you can ask at the end of an interview. You can inquire about responsibilities, ask questions about the company, etc.
Any opportunity to continue the discussion and keep proving your value to the company is one you should take! Failing to ask questions shows that you’re not interested in the job.
Alternatively, interviewers might not leave time for you to ask questions. That’s not a good sign either! It could mean they aren’t interested enough to move you forward in the hiring process, so they won’t waste time answering your questions.
While these signs don’t always mean that you didn’t get the job, you should be aware of the clues you may not get an offer. While this can be disheartening, it’s a good reminder not to get your hopes up on a single opportunity.
Now that you know where you stand, you can make yourself a more competitive applicant, move forward, and pursue other opportunities.
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.