5 Job Interview Red Flags to Watch For

5 Job Interview Red Flags to Watch For

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You’ve probably heard before that job interviews are a two-way road.

You should be interviewing the organization as much as they are interviewing you. As a job seeker, you need to keep your eye out for tell-tale signs that a position or company might not be a good fit for you.

But how do you do that?

Truth be told, at every step of the process—from application to offer—you are gaining valuable insight into how your prospective future employer does business. Lack of responsiveness, high-pressure tactics, and unreasonable requests are all indications of what might be to come.

Yet, many job seekers are inclined to ignore these things. The hiring process has long been weighted in favor of the employer.

However, to avoid landing in an ill-fitting role, the savvy job seeker will tune into possible interview red flags and take them to heart.

5 Job Interview Red Flags to Watch For

Unprepared Interviewers

If your interviewer arrives late and appears to have barely skimmed your resume, approach with caution. This could indicate a culture of disorganization, lack of respect for others’ time, or workloads that don’t allow for the bare minimum of preparation before important meetings. 

Vague Explanations

If your interviewer can’t clearly define the role, the company’s mission and culture, or why the position is being filled at this time, consider what that tells you. It could indicate a lack of communication skills on the part of the interviewer, or it could be something bigger. You don’t want to end up in a position where you have little structure and no established goals or duties, or one that feels like a bait-and-switch. Vague responses are an easy way for the interviewer to avoid sharing things that may scare you off.

Pushing for Unacceptable Things

If the interviewer is asking inappropriate questions (like those of a personal nature, for example) or pressuring you to do things that make you uncomfortable, pump the brakes. Some less-than-reputable organizations will lure you in with a job description, only to suddenly announce there’s a 5-month unpaid training period or a pre-hire project you have to do that requires you to provide significant work for free.

Likewise, if your prospective employer is demanding references from your current employer without putting an offer on the table first or begging you to start immediately without a 2-week notice, take that as a sign of things to come. Most upstanding hiring organizations want to help you make a graceful exit, and will do everything in their power to assist. Starting the relationship with demands that ultimately harm your reputation is undoubtedly a bad sign.

Also read: How To Handle Illegal Interview Questions

Bad Mouthing

Any interviewer who shares derogatory information about a former or current employee or the organization itself is doing you favor! This shows you exactly what to expect in the future. If they’re willing to bad mouth employees, you can be sure you’ll get the same treatment. And if the interviewer is warning you that the company is toxic for some reason, you better listen.

Off-Putting Vibe

Finally, it’s worthwhile noting that interviews are a good time to tune into your sixth sense. Observe the environment closely, as well as the people. What unspoken clues are you picking up on? Do people seem relatively comfortable and happy? Or is there an underlying tension? Sometimes, your conscious mind can’t determine exactly what’s “off” but your intuition is screaming to run for the door. Don’t discount that inner voice of wisdom.

All too often, people who land in jobs that don’t suit them will look back at the interview and say, “I should have seen this coming.” Sometimes, we go in with such excitement about the opportunity, we fail to apply even a minimal level of skepticism. Don’t allow yourself to fooled. Next time you go for an interview, keep your eyes peeled for red flags. Then, make your decisions with eyes wide open.

Also read: How to Handle a Bad Interviewer


Chrissy Scivicque
About the Author
Chrissy Scivicque

Chrissy Scivicque is a career coach, corporate trainer and public speaker who believes work can be a nourishing part of the life experience. Her website, Eat Your Career, is devoted to this mission. Chrissy is currently a contributing career expert for U.S. News & World Report and the author of the book, The Proactive Professional: How to Stop Playing Catch Up and Start Getting Ahead at Work (and in Life!), available on Amazon.

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