Interviewing Red Flags
Deb Ward / OCTOBER 19 2020

You’ve done all the research, sent in all your paperwork, and are ready to interview in person. You’re prepared with good questions, dressed appropriately and you’ve arrived on time. You’re so busy presenting your best self, you may be overlooking some potential issues that may come up during the interview – red flags that are telling you this company may not be the right fit.  Interviewing is a two-way street. You want to be sure the company culture is going to be a match for you as well.

Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Take some time to check out company reviews online before the interview. Some negative comments may be just unhappy former employees that are venting, but if you see the same issues come up again and again, there may be something to that. Be sure to ask questions and get clarification on that issue.
  • Does the hiring manager seem distracted or disinterested? If he/she is checking email, looking at his/her phone, or sorting through papers, they may have already decided not to hire you, but this is not professional and polite behavior. Do you really want this person to be your boss?
  • They keep changing the interview date or “forget” to send information you’ve requested about the job.  If this has happened multiple times, it’s a sign that the company is disorganized or doesn’t really value your time. If you feel you have dropped off their radar only to be contacted again, days, or weeks later, it’s likely a chaotic environment.
  • The offer comes too quickly. You get the sense that the company is desperate and is really looking to hire any “warm body…” as if it really doesn’t matter who they get. The role may not have much respect in the company and they’re not taking it seriously.
  • You cannot get a straight answer.You’ve come prepared with good questions and are in the final stages of the process, but you can’t get a firm answer. It’s possible there’s something the hiring manager is not telling you or they’re completely disengaged from the role. In either case, it’s not a good sign.
  • The job description is vague or keeps changing. If that’s the case, it will be hard for you to understand your new responsibilities and whether you can be successful in this job.  If the manager isn’t sure what you’re supposed to be doing, that’s a red flag.
  • It’s obvious the manager hasn’t read your resume.No one expects the manager to know every detail about your background, but they should have done enough preparation to ask thoughtful questions and be aware of what you can offer. It’s disrespectful and negligent not to have at least reviewed your information.
  • The environment is eerily quiet.When you walk through to the interview, does it seem that people are interacting and energetic? Do they seem engaged and working well together?  If your impression is that the employees are unhappy or dislike each other, you’ll want to take that into consideration.
  • You don’t feel like the hiring manager is listening.If he/she doesn’t ask good follow up questions or continues to ask questions you’ve already answered, doesn’t give you eye contact, and doesn’t seem engaged, it’s not a good sign. 
  • The interviewer is badmouthing the person you’re replacing.It’s never ok for the hiring manager to say negative things about the person who just left this job, or complain about his/her boss. It shows bad character and poor judgment and is a definite red flag.
  • High turnover rates are also a bad sign. If it’s a revolving door at this company where people stay for just a few months and they’re constantly interviewing, that could be a sign that all is not well. It may help to find out what steps are being actively taken to correct the issue, but it may mean a hard road ahead if you take this job.
  • People are rude. If the receptionist is short or rude to you and the hiring manager speaks rudely to other staff members, you should seriously consider withdrawing your application. Working with difficult people can be draining and this could be a sneak peek into the overall environment.

What can you do if you notice red flags? First of all, don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you don’t feel you’re getting a full explanation of the job or what it takes to succeed, ask some follow-up questions. If you see signs of disinterest or rudeness, follow your gut feeling and continue your job search elsewhere.

 An interview is not only a review of your qualifications but also a chance for you to see if the company is a good fit for you. What may seem like a great job on paper could be far from it. So, make sure the culture is right, you feel valued and you take your time to evaluate the big picture.