Hello-Goodbye: Cutting An Interview Short

dead endTomorrow one of the busiest hiring seasons begins.  January – the time of new beginnings and that means new job seekers and new hires.  If you’re new to hiring (or even if you’re not) you might still be developing that recruiting instinct.  You know, the one that tells you a good interview from a bad, transferable skills to secondary ones … it takes some practice to hone in on your own good judgment when it comes to building a great team.

Perhaps the most important skill to hone is cutting an interview short, or rather, knowing when a candidate isn’t worth anymore of your time (and you are not worth anymore of theirs).  Maybe you’ve already been there: a candidate passes a phone screen and comes to meet you in the office.  You both say hello and begin talking.  Five minutes later it couldn’t be clearer that this person isn’t right for the position, but you’ve blocked off 45 minutes.  Do you finish the interview?  Do a shortened version? Or show them the door?

Hiring managers debate what the right course of action is in this situation.  If they’ve researched the company and are obviously prepared, have they earned the same time you would give a more promising candidate?  Is it polite to give a courtesy interview, giving them only 20 or 30 minutes of your time instead?  Or should you be upfront, tell them why it’s best to stop now, and save you both time?

I won’t say there is a right way to do this, because I think the choice to continue or cut off an interview depends on both the details of the situation and your personal comfort.  I will say it doesn’t seem worth it to twiddle your thumbs through an hour interview if you’ve decided right away not to hire that person – chances are the candidate will notice you’re less engaged anyway.  Or it simply might be unkind to fake the enthusiasm you’d give more promising candidates and get their hopes up needlessly.

Please ... just go away
Please … just go away

Here are a few definite reasons you might want to cut an interview short:

The candidate is unprepared.  Really, it’s amazing they found your office at all for how little they seem to know about your company. They obviously didn’t believe this interview was worth preparing for, so why would they be worth your time?  It’s okay to politely say that you’re looking for someone more excited about the position and move on.

The candidate is unqualified.  You should always do a phone screen to sort through this bunch of candidates, but sometimes someone still ends up in front of you saying they can’t work weekend shifts when you’re hiring a weekend associate … Be upfront when someone doesn’t meet the qualifications, especially when it comes to skill set or availability.  The candidate would probably rather spend time job searching for jobs they can actually do!

The candidate is a horror story.  As in, they text during the interview or insist on bringing their mother into the room.  Or maybe they yell at the receptionist on their way to meet you or decided dinosaur pajamas were appropriate attire for a sales position.  These are the candidates that don’t deserve a courtesy interview – turn them around after their five minutes (or fifteen seconds).

How do you handle interviews where you know there’s no hope for the person across from you?  Job seekers, what would you like interviewers to do?

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Kacie was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology.

Kacie joined CareerPlug as an intern while still in college in 2012. Post-graduation, she joined the CareerPlug team full-time as a Talent Specialist on the Recruitment Services side of the business, eventually working her way up to be the Recruitment Services Manager. From there, she learned her passion for the internal processes of what makes the business tick and explored other roles at the company, including Internal Support, Implementation, and Quality Management, before eventually finding her home in Design. She is now building a Creative Design branch off of the Marketing team.

Outside of work, you can find Kacie walking her dogs Bixby & Bean along Buffalo Bayou, hanging out with friends (and their pets), and tending to her 40+ house plants.

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Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

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Vice President of Sales

Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

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As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

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Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.


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Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.