Six Job Interview Red Flags Candidates Should Look Out For

Six Job Interview Red Flags Candidates Should Look Out For

Interviewing for a job at a potential employer is not only a time for candidates to show off skills and experience as it relates to an open position, but also a time for them to analyze the organization to see if it is the right fit for their needs. This can be challenging, as job seekers are likely concerned with trying to make a good first impression, answering the interviewer’s questions thoroughly and giving an accurate description of their professional experience when in this situation. Fortunately, there are some clear interview red flags that candidates can look out for during the interview process to help them recognize if the organization is genuine or not.

Fortunately, there are some clear red flags that candidates can look out for during the interview process to help them recognize if the organization is genuine or not.

Read below to learn more about the red flags candidates should be aware of when interviewing.

Unorganized or Unclear Interview Process

When job seekers start the interviewing process, they should have a good idea of the next steps to expect in the process. For example, during a phone screen, information should be given at the end of the conversation about what the next steps are if they advance in being considered for the role. If this information isn’t communicated, candidates should make sure to ask their company contact for more information so there is a better idea for what to expect next.

Candidates should also beware of “ghosting” from a hiring manager or recruiter. “Ghosting” is defined when a recruiter or hiring manager stops responding to messages, fails to appears to interviews or disappears for more than a week in the hiring process according to Acara Solutions. If there are any instances of ghosting from the organization, candidates should see this as a red flag and they might want to consider options at other organizations. Even if the organization decides not to move forward with an application, they should let the candidate know that they are no longer in consideration for the role.

It is not uncommon that an interview may have to be rescheduled, but if it is happening more than once, it should be a big warning for candidates. This could show signs of bad organization and time management within the company. Rescheduling and cancelling last minute can also show candidates that their time is not being valued.

There is always a chance that unforeseeable circumstances happen, which can cause rescheduling and longer response times, but if this is happening consistently, it should be a red flag and taken with great caution moving forward.

Inconsistent or Vague Answers About Culture 

Company culture is becoming a more sought-after subject for job seekers as Gen Z workers are entering the field of professional work. For example, Team Stage found that company culture is an important factor for 46% of job seekers and 15% of them declined a job offer due to lack of company culture.

Companies that do not hold a strong company culture may avoid the subject all together when interview potential candidates. To ensure that job seekers can get direct answers about company culture, they should prepare questions before an interview.

Here are some great culture-related examples of questions to ask in an interview:

  • How does the company reward or celebrate employee success?
  • Are any health benefits/perks offered to employees?
  • What types of activities and events are offered throughout the year?
  • How would you describe communication from upper management? Is it clear and are there open lines of communication?
  • Are there team outings or chances for professional development?

If a candidate asks these questions and get very vague answers, or the interviewer completely avoids the questions all together, this is a red flag. This can show that the organization may not truly care for employee’s wellbeing or value workplace culture.

Inappropriate Questions

Interviews are an opportunity for a hiring manager to get to know a candidate better, but red flags could arise during this process. Candidates should be mindful of the questions that interviewers are asking them.

A big red flag in interviews is being asked any type of personal information. Questions regarding personal information can be illegal and discriminatory, especially in the beginning of a screening process.

Here are some question topics that interviewers are not legally allowed to ask a candidate:

  • Age
  • Gender identity/sexual orientation
  • Marital, family or pregnancy status
  • Race, color or ethnicity
  • Religion

If any of these questions are asked when interviewing, a candidate should refuse to answer or steer the conversation another direction. By no means is a person required to answer these types of questions. If a candidate is asked questions such as these, they should consider withdrawing from the interview process, or, informing the interviewer of their discomfort with the situation.

If this happens during an interview, candidates can also file a report directly to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about the illegal interview questions.

Additionally, candidates should be weary if the interviewer asks more questions about personal life details than their professional experience. This could be a sign of an overbearing boss, possible discrimination and more.

Disengaged in Conversation

The interviewer should be engaged throughout their conversation with the candidate. The whole point of an interview is to get to know them and their professional experience better and if they are drifting off, interrupting the candidate or are blatantly disengaged, that’s a large red flag.

In an interview with a panel of two or more people, candidates should analyze their body language and eye contact. Are they cutting each other off mid-sentence? Are they paying attention or being distracted with other work? Do they disrespect one another with answers?

Additionally, candidates should pay attention to the type of questions that are being asked. If there are only generic questions like, “tell me about yourself” or “what is your educational background”, this could be a red flag. This shows that they did not look at the candidate’s resume closely and only looking to get the position filled as fast as possible. The interviewer should be asking questions specific to the candidate’s personal experience and background to get additional information that is useful in assessing if they are a right fit for their role.

Speaking Poorly About Current or Previous Employees 

It is not professional for any employer to talk poorly about current or previous employees.

Employees leave organizations for a many reasons and managers should be respectful of that. If a candidate is in an interview and the hiring manager starts to reveal personal details on why the previous person left or are openly talking negative about them, this is a big red flag. When previous employees come up, they should only give necessary information without conjecture or irrelevant details.

Another thing that job seekers will want to pay attention to is how interviewers talk about current employees. If they are talking negatively or giving personal information away about current employees, this is a red flag. Talking poorly about their coworkers can show that the interviewer does not handle private situations correctly, may not respect confidentiality and that the organization may not have a good culture.

Lack of Clarity of The Role

A red flag candidates should look out for is if they still have unanswered questions or are unclear about the role they are interviewing for. This lack of understanding may be due to an unclear job description or vague answers from a hiring manager.

Part of this is on the candidate to make sure that they are asking questions if they need clarification. A successful job seeker should ask clear questions on the role, daily responsibilities and what the company exactly delivers to customers.

Here are some examples of questions to ask to gain clarity on the role:

  • What would my daily responsibilities look like?
  • In a couple of sentences, could you describe how the company delivers better products/services to its customers than the competition?
  • How many people will I be working with daily?
  • What are skills that would make me successful in this role?

If these questions are asked and the interviewer does not respond thoughtfully, or does not know specifics related to the role, this could be a red flag. The hiring manager should be clear and concise on the roles and responsibilities of the position. If they are being vague, they may not completely understand the position’s tasks, and therefore may not provide the best picture of what it would be like if someone was successfully hired into the position. If a candidate encounters this situation, they should try to gain more information and reconsider if this is the best opportunity for them.

Keep an eye out for red flags such as these and you will be on your way to finding your next dream job in no time!

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