Why Was My Interview so Short?

Generally, in-person interviews last between 30 minutes to an hour.

So, what does it mean when your interview was shorter than that timeframe?

If your in-person interview ended before the average 45-minute mark, you were probably left wondering, “why was my interview so short?” It can be easy to psych yourself out, but don’t assume the worst right off the bat. In some cases, a short interview is a positive sign!

Reflect on the cues you were given by the interviewer and use them to determine whether your interview went well or not. Below is a list of questions that will help you understand why your interview was short, and whether or not it went well.

  • Did the interviewer give you a reason for your interview being cut short?
  • Were you able to ask questions at the end of your interview?
  • Did the interviewer ask you any specific questions about your experience or interest in the position?
  • What was the body language of the interviewer like?
  • What was your gut feeling when you left the interview?
  • Did the interviewer give you guidelines for what the next steps would be in the hiring process?

Did the interviewer give you a reason for your interview being cut short?

If your interviewer was suddenly called out of your meeting or had to excuse themselves to handle a business matter, they’ll probably want to reschedule with you. Day-to-day operations don’t stop for anything, even interviews! The recruiter will probably apologize profusely, so handle the situation graciously, and let them reach back out to you to finish your conversation.

On the other hand, if your meeting was cut short and you weren’t offered an explanation, it could be a sign that the interviewer decided you weren’t a good fit. While it could be construed as rude for them not to continue with your interview, ultimately, they’re doing you a favor by not wasting your time.

If you weren’t given a reason for the brevity of your meeting, but you don’t think that the interviewer cut things short because they had disqualified you in their head, use other context clues from your interaction to figure out why it was a short interview.

Were you able to ask questions at the end of your interview?

A recruiter that’s interested in you as a candidate will want to answer any questions that you have about the position. As much as they’re interviewing you for the role, you’re also interviewing them! By allowing you the chance to ask questions and learn more about the position, you’re able to bring up any concerns you have. Good recruiters want their candidates to feel comfortable throughout the interview and hiring process, so they’ll be happy to hear what your questions are and to provide you with answers.

On the flip side, you may not have been given the chance to ask the hiring manager anything at the end of your meeting. In this case, there are three possibilities for why they didn’t offer to answer your questions. Firstly, you may have given them the idea that you understand the role completely. Did you use phrases like, “this sounds just like my last job,” or “I know exactly how to do XYZ,” throughout your interview? If you did, you may have given off the impression that you understood the job and its responsibilities 100%.

The second option for why the hiring manager didn’t give you time to ask questions is simply that they’re a bad interviewer. Sometimes, companies don’t have an HR person or recruiter lead the interview process so the manager of the department will take over. Someone who isn’t trained to interview and screen applicants may not remember to ask if there are any questions at the end of the meeting.

Lastly, the interviewer may not offer to answer any of your questions because they are not interested in hiring you. It’s a possibility that the interviewer has a busy schedule and doesn’t want to waste your or their own time answering questions when they’ve decided you’re not the right person for the job. While it may be disappointing to realize that you weren’t selected for the opportunity, not landing the position is simply a reality of the job-hunting process.

Did the interviewer ask you any specific questions about your experience or interest in the position?

To continue with the theme of the questions above, it’s usually a good sign when an interviewer asks you in-depth questions about your experience and interest in the role. It’s important to understand that there are two different kinds of questions that recruiters ask. Sometimes, they ask questions that are aimed at confirming their belief that you would be a great fit for the position, and other times they ask questions to figure out why you think you’re a good fit for the role.

You can distinguish between these types of questions by using the following criteria:

  • If you were asked why you thought your skills and experience would fit the position, was your answer taken at face value, or were you pressed for a more in-depth response?
  • Did the recruiter seem familiar with your resume and experience? If so, did they make any comments about how your abilities would transfer over well to the position?
  • Was your degree field or industry brought up? A recruiter that doesn’t believe you’re capable of performing well in a role will try and figure out what (if any) foundational experience you’re lacking.
  • Focus on their tone. Did they seem interested in hearing more, were they short with you, or did you feel that they were disinterested?

It’s possible that the recruiter flew through all the questions they had for you faster than they expected to. If you didn’t pick up on any obvious red flags throughout the conversation, short interviews might just be the company’s style.

What was the body language of the interviewer like?

If you were able to read the body language of the person interviewing you, it should be relatively easy to gauge how your meeting went.

Positive body language uses nonverbal movements and gestures to communicate enthusiasm and interest in reaction to what someone is saying.

Some examples of positive body language are:

  • Uncrossed arms and legs
  • Leaning in towards you while you’re speaking
  • Eye contact
  • Smiling and nodding in response to what you’re saying

Negative nonverbal reactions include:

  • Frowning or avoiding eye contact
  • Crossed arms
  • Sitting in a very tense or stiff manner
  • Sighing loudly, rolling their eyes, or shaking their head

Think back on how the interviewer responded to what you were saying. Did any of your answers elicit a negative response? If you answered yes and the interview ended shortly after, you may have said something that disqualified you as a candidate. Learn from the experience and make sure not to bring that topic up in a future interview!

If the interviewer’s body language was all positive but your meeting was still shorter than you expected it to be, there’s probably no reason to expect a rejection email from the company. It’s always a possibility that the recruiter may have already believed you were right for the position and wanted to meet you in person to confirm that you would be a personality fit for their team.

What was your gut feeling when you left the interview?

Often, you won’t feel like you bombed an interview and then end up with a job offer. Take into consideration your feelings immediately after the interview ended. Did you walk out with your head held high?

Pro-Tip: A short interview can be just as informative as a longer one, so if you feel it deep down in your gut that you impressed the recruiter, hold on to that feeling!

Overthinking can cause insecurity, so try to remind yourself of how you felt leaving the interview. If you originally believed that it went well but it’s taking the company a while to reach back out to you, it can be easy to talk yourself into thinking it went worse than it actually did. Hold on to the reality of the situation, and keep a positive attitude.

Did the interviewer give you guidelines for what the next steps would be in the hiring process?

The number one indicator of whether or not your short interview was a success is whether you were given any indicators that there would be future contact or a next step. A recruiter who is interested in moving you forward to the next stage in the company’s hiring process will clearly outline the road ahead.

There may be fewer steps in the process for entry-level positions, as opposed to intermediate or senior level roles.

An interview that ends with the recruiter saying, “we’re looking to make a decision soon so we’ll reach out to you either way,” may not have gone very well. You want to look out for more specific guidance – a date that they will make contact with you, the next step in the process (explained in detail), or pre-screens like drug testing and background checks.

If you weren’t clear on what comes next in the process, reach out! It’s perfectly acceptable to follow-up if you’re unsure of where you stand with the company. Send a short email to touch base with your contact and say thank you for the opportunity to interview.

Short interviews can shake up the nerves of even the most confident interviewers, but they don’t have to be a bad omen. Keep a positive attitude and reflect on the information that was given to you by the recruiter. Be mindful of body language, tone of voice, and the way your meeting came to a close – then use those context clues to fill in the blanks! Follow-up if you’re unsure, and always remember to keep your communication error-free and professional.

Best of luck!

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