20 Job Interview Red Flags

Are you interviewing for a new job?  If so, congrats on the new opportunity!  However, as everyone knows, not every job is perfect.  But, how do you determine what might actually not be the best job?  Sometimes, an interview can provide some great insight.  Here are some job interview red flags that I’ve experienced and heard over the years.

Job Requirements and Such

  • Nights & Weekends.  If these words come up at all, it’s a safe bet you might be expected to work off shift.
  • On call.  Are you expecting to be on call?  If so, great, but if not, watch out if this comes up at all.  You’ll likely find yourself on call sooner rather than later.
  • Filling In.  If you suddenly start talking about items beyond the job description, and how you’d be filling in, watch out.  This could be a permanent or way too regular thing.
  • Short Staffed.  If the words come up at all, watch out!  When they tell you in a job interview that they’re short staffed, they are probably always short staffed.
  • Mismatch from the job description.  If the job description differs from what they talk about in the interview, watch out.  My friend hired in for a job where the travel time was listed at 25%.  During the interview, they said it could occasionally be 50-75%.  Well, of course it was 50-75% all the time.
  • Learning a job on the fly.  I was hired for a job where I didn’t qualify.  But, they assured me that my background would make me a quick fit after I was mentored for a few months.  Then, after I was hired, the mentoring shrunk to a week.  It was doomed for failure from day one.

Compensation Issues

  • Introductory salary.  If you are promised a big raise after working there for so long, be careful.  Often, something comes up or they’ll find an excuse to get rid of you before awarding the raise.
  • Delayed benefits. If a company doesn’t want to give you benefits from the start, be careful.
  • Deflection to non-monetary benefits.  Some companies love to talk about the great rewards they provide beyond salary.  If they are trying to sell this as a way to offer less, look out.  After all, the free snacks in the lunchroom aren’t going to pay your bills, are they?

Interview Experience

  • Starting late. It’s poor etiquette to show up to a job interview late, right?  It’s also just as poor if you are brought in late.  Respect is a two way street.
  • Not answering questions.  You’re supposed to ask questions about the company and the job.  They should answer them.  If you’re getting the runaround, listen to the warning bells.
  • Interviewing from a list.  I believe that every job interview should be unique.  An interview feels comfortable to me when it flows based on the conversation.  I find it very off-putting when an interviewer is clearly running their way down a list of questions.  It feels as if they have no interest in getting to know you as an individual.
  • Not paying attention.  Have you ever had an interview where the person interviewing you was clearly distracted?  Again, a big red flag should wave here as it demonstrates a clear lack of respect.
  • Interviewing with other candidates.  I don’t want to sit alongside my competition.  Ever.  If this were ever to happen, I would decline the interview.
  • Anything off color.  Breaking the ice during an interview can help calm nerves.  But, anything off color is a no-no.  If any of that comes up, walk, don’t run, away from that job.

Culture

  • Stressed out looking people.  When you’re walking around or waiting to be called in, pay attention.  Are people happy looking or do they appear stressed out?  Do people look conversational or confrontational?  Getting a feel for how existing employees appear is huge.
  • Talking someone down.  Just as you should never bad-mouth your current employer or boss, nor should you hear anybody being talked about during your interview.  It’s unprofessional, and you know they’re probably talking about everyone.  Which would, of course, one day be you if you’re hired.
  • Political.  If politics comes up at all during an interview, be careful.  Unless you’re interviewing for a position in politics, there is no good reason for this to come up.
  • Turnover.  If it comes up that there’s a lot of turnover, this is a clear sign of problems.
  • The ‘forever’ club.  If it comes up that everyone else on the team has worked there for a long time, dig into that.  Many times a new hire, no matter how qualified, will be kept at arm’s length.  A good mix of experience on the team isn’t required, but can help.

These are some job interview red flags.  Some might apply and some might not.  You have to be the judge on whether they do an if they’re important.  What are some red flags you’ve used (or missed) during the job interview process?

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