You may have landed a job interview with a company you’re really interested in. Or it may be a company you’re just curious about.
Whatever the reason you’re going ahead with an interview, if you really want or need the job, you may have decided that, no matter what, you’ll take the job with them.
Remember that interviewing is a two-way street. You should be assessing them just as much as they assess you.
Along with the research work on the company you did in your interview prep beforehand, the interview itself will help you fill in gaps for your due diligence into whether this company is a good fit for you.
Doing your due diligence means asking the right questions and paying close attention to the words and actions of each person who interviews you for signals.
After all, you don’t want to end up in a job that doesn’t work for you. Both you and the employer pay the price for that.
They will have lost the costs associated with the hiring process.
You will have lost precious time stagnating in a job you don’t like, waiting until you think it’s okay to jump ship.
And you’ll have to face the job search process all over again . . . unless you decide to stay with a company or job that’s wrong for you.
But take heart. There are a number of signs to watch out for, before you accept the job offer.
One thing to keep in mind: Not all interviewers are particularly good at interviewing.
If you are sitting across from someone who drones on, doesn’t ask you many questions or doesn’t prompt you to speak, don’t fault the company.
Instead, always be ready to interject important points yourself using storytelling, that you’ve rehearsed beforehand.
20 Job Interview Red Flags To Watch Out For
Rebecca Zucker, founding partner at Next Step Partners, an executive coaching, firm suggests that although you shouldn’t go into the interview process overly skeptical or suspicious, you should be attuned to red flags, such as these 10:
1. Constant rescheduling and disorganization
Rescheduling once or twice may be acceptable, but any more than that is too much. Your time is just as valuable as theirs and, if that isn’t respected early on in your potential work relationship, it probably never will be.
2. Disrespecting others
Do your interviewers speak disrespectfully of their various co-workers? If so, this could “not only indicate that the organization may be highly siloed, but also that there may be low psychological safety.”
If you’re interviewed by a panel of interviewers, pay attention to how they interact with and treat each other.
3. Values conflict
Of course, you’ll need to identify your core values before entering a job interview. And you should have questions ready to better assess whether the company’s values align with yours.
For instance, if you value autonomy, ask a question like, “Which decisions would you expect me to make, and which decisions would you want me to escalate to you?“
4. Lack of clarity or consistency in answers to your questions
Are the answers you’re getting precise and clear, or are they vague and generic? If it’s the latter, keep asking probing questions until you get the answers you need. If the interviewer balks, that’s a red flag.
Also be sure that when you ask others in the company the same questions throughout the interview process, that their answers are fairly consistent.
5. Bait and switch
If the job you’re interviewing for doesn’t sound like the one you applied for, or you were told about, take notice. This can be “an indication that they don’t communicate or manage change well with key stakeholders, both internally and externally.”
6. Inappropriate questions or comments
“If you receive a question or comment that is ageist, sexist, racist, or equally offensive, it is an obvious red flag that this organization not only has poor training, but also likely tolerates bad behavior.”
7. Lack of connection
If the interviewer isn’t engaged, doesn’t smile sometimes, and seems distracted, it could mean that they really aren’t that interested because they’ve already lined up someone else for the position.
This could be true of your first interview vs. further ones. If the first one went great, but those following it were not good, they could just be confirming that the other hire is the right one.
8. Resistance to change (even if they say they want change)
If the interviewer says something like, “I may have opinions about this [function], since I used to do this years ago”, it could be a red flag. They may not have an improvement or change mindset.
Asking a question like, “How do you deal with others who have different opinions?” may give you helpful information. Pay attention to verbal and body language cues with how they respond.
9. Excessive number of interviews or drawn-out interview process
If the interview process drags on too long, it “can be a sign that the team or organization is overly consensus driven, indecisive, or has issues driving things to completion.”
Certainly, a c-suite or other top-level executive position will probably require more interviews than for those at a lower professional level. But even for the c-suite, anything over 10-12 interviews is excessive.
10. Exploding offers
These are job offers that will expire in a very short time. You must make a commitment immediately, even if they give you no time to consider everything.
“Ultimatums don’t feel good or show respect for an individual’s desire to make a thoughtful career decision and weigh their options that will affect their career and livelihood for years to come.“
When someone (or a company) shows you who they are, believe them. Companies that present exploding offers will probably continue being disrespectful of you once you’re on the job.
FastCompany described 4 more job interview red flags:
11. High staff turnover
If you keep seeing the same job posting for the company it could mean that they have a hard time keeping someone in that role, or it’s a difficult role to fill.
Check employees’ profiles on LinkedIn to see how long they stay at the company, and Glassdoor to read employee reviews of the company.
12. Mandatory overtime
Think twice if the interviewer tells you up front that you’re expected to work overtime all the time. If you’re a salaried employee, you won’t be paid for that extra time.
A mandate like this indicates the company will disregard work-life balance. It could also mean the company isn’t run well or is understaffed.
13. Money matters
If the only thing about the job that truly appeals to you is the salary, take pause. If you’re unhappy with the job, you’ll probably want to jump ship quickly and then you’re back in a job search.
Also think twice if everything BUT the salary is appealing. If the pay range is below what you know you’re worth, it could mean the company is not financially stable.
14. Lack of transparency
Expect that employers won’t be completely transparent about everything in an interview, but if they hold back about certain issues, it could be a problem.
“For example, if you ask to meet the team before accepting the role but the employer won’t let you, that’s a red flag. And once you receive an offer, you should ask to see the company handbook to get an idea of the policies you’ll be subject to. But if the employer won’t give it to you (or one doesn’t exist!), be cautious.”
The Career Contessa offers 2 more interview red flags:
15. The interviewer gaslights you
A form of manipulation, gaslighting is used to confuse you and make you second-guess what you know is true.
“For example, let’s say you are a seasoned marketer with 5 years in a Director role. During your interview, the hiring manager might say something like, ‘I see you in a more junior role. Your experience is with a different kind of company and doesn’t really translate.‘
All of a sudden, the interviewer has rewritten your work history and your hard-won experience.”
16. Microaggressions are thrown your way during the process
“Microaggressions, although most commonly used to describe “micro” assaults on People of Color, are also used to describe slights against all marginalized groups. Groups may experience marginalization and microaggressions due to race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.”
If you’re otherwise attracted to the job, you may be willing to overlook these slights, but beware that micro-aggressive behavior is often systemic.
More Interview Red Flags Reported by Job Seekers Themselves
And here are 4 interview red flags actual job seekers experienced during interviews, as related to BuzzFeed:
17. “We’re legally not allowed to tell you not to take your breaks, but nobody here does it, so keep that in mind.”
18. “When the first thing they ask is if you’re available outside of your listed availability.”
19. “They said that they had paid $10,000 to the recruiter to send recruits, and if I left before one year, I would have to pay them back $10,000. It would be in my employment contract.”
20. “A wall-sized Confederate flag hanging in the conference room we were interviewing in. Noped my way right out.”