10 Red Flags During Interview Process

Employers’ red flag is a good thing to remember when applying for a job. This isn’t to say that you should go into the interview process with much skepticism or suspicion. Instead, it encourages you to pay attention to any red flags during the interview process. These can be signs of more significant problems with your potential boss, team, or the company as a whole.

Harvard Business Review listed these 10 warning signs during interviews to keep an eye out for:

1. Always changing plans and being disorganized.

People are busy, and things can come up at the last minute, so it’s not uncommon for an interview to be moved. But if it happens more than once, it’s a sign that something is wrong. If things have to be delayed twice, and they want to do it again, that’s it. That’s too much.

There must be real reasons, and they must tell you what they are because your time is just as valuable as theirs. It can make you feel like you’re not that important. Employers today have to be very careful to get back to job candidates quickly, talk to them clearly, and treat them as if they were already workers. If they don’t, job candidates will go somewhere else.

If they keep doing that, it shows that they don’t put the people or the job at the top of their list. They don’t know that there is a war for talent going on. If things are unorganized, that’s a huge warning sign. This includes how they talk to you (or don’t talk to you). If the recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t get back to you for a long time, that’s a red flag. It shows that there isn’t enough openness and communication.

2. Treating others badly.

Every business has natural quarrels between departments. You must find out if the people you meet with during the interview discuss problems or tensions with other parties constructively. Or do they do so negatively or disrespectfully? If it’s the latter, this is a red flag because it shows that the group may have a lot of misinformation and that people may not feel safe.

If you go to a group interview with two or more interviewers, it’s a good chance to watch how they interact. How do they talk to one another? Do they often talk over each other? Does one person take over and stop the others from talking? Even if the conversation is on Zoom, what do their subtle microexpressions and body language say about them?

10 Red Flags During Interview Process

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3. Difference in values.

This is also a big red flag. Before you start the interview process, you should know your most important values. Have questions ready to help you determine the company’s culture, how much it shares your most important values, and how well you’d express them on the job.

For example, if you believe in inclusivity and the company you’re interviewing with says they believe in the same thing, ask them what they’re doing to ensure the workplace is open. How do they keep track of it? Does the group do what it says it will do, or is it just words? If you want to spend the next few years in a good, healthy environment, you must pay close attention to the values.

Also, if you value independence, you might ask your boss, “What decisions do you want me to make, and what do you want me to bring to your attention?” Trust, but verify what they say, even if it’s what you want to hear. Ask the people who work for this boss what it was like to be given autonomy or how much decision-making power they were given. A red flag is when you don’t have answers that make sense.

4. Interviewer’s answers aren’t clear or don’t make sense.

How clear or exact are the answers you get when you ask questions during the interview? Are the answers you get unclear or general, or does the interviewer give you specific examples, which is what they’d expect from you? If you don’t feel like you’re getting particular and direct answers, that’s a red flag. Keep asking probing questions until you get the necessary answers.

During the interview process, you will meet with different people who have a stake in your success in this job. Have a core set of questions that you ask everyone to get a sense of their point of view and to see where their answers match up and, more importantly, where they don’t. You should ensure their answers are pretty much the same from one person to the next. Even if someone gives you a different answer, it may make sense and add to what others have said, giving you a fuller picture of the situation, job, or environment. A difference is okay and to be expected. When you hear answers to the same question that don’t match up with what other people have said, that’s a warning sign.

5. Bait and switch

A red flag is when the job you are applying for sounds very different from the job description. Sure, things constantly change. But if the hiring manager doesn’t clarify the change, it could mean they don’t share or handle change well with key stakeholders inside and outside the company.

Also, a quick change in the role’s responsibilities makes the job less attractive to you. In that case, this is an important thing to note. They may be moving so fast that they haven’t stopped long enough to be able to tell job candidates. That lack of communication will make you wonder if the organization knows what it is doing.

6. Inappropriate questions or comments.

There isn’t a red flag that is any bigger than this one. Even though you might not be asked a question that’s rude or evident, an interviewer could still make inappropriate statements or crude jokes.

Suppose you get a question or comment that is ageist, sexist, racist, or otherwise offensive. In that case, it’s a clear sign that this company not only has terrible training but also probably lets lousy behavior slide, or, what’s even worse, it hasn’t dealt with unconscious bias in its talent management practices, including recruiting.

7. Not getting along.

A good interview is a conversation that goes both ways and excites both people about working together. It’s not a good sign if the interviewer doesn’t have any energy or link with you, doesn’t smile, seems distracted, or asks you questions like they’re reading from a script instead of trying to get to know you.

If the people you’re talking to aren’t interested, they may be just going through the motions because they already have someone lined up for the job. So, an employer is interviewing you but already has the person they want. In that case, they won’t be as excited during the interview.

Also, the energy or interest can change quickly from one round of talks to the next. If you feel like the first interview was great. You got along well, but it was not so great during the second conversation. The sudden change in enthusiasm was a red flag that they had found a better option. They didn’t want to cancel the interview to ensure their hunch was correct. It shows that they don’t know how to communicate well.

10 Red Flags During Interview Process

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8. They don’t want to change, even if they say they do.

There are job openings because a company needs someone to improve things, like making better products, making operations more efficient, getting more customers, improving departmental performance, etc. For the business to get better, things have to change.

A simple follow-up question, like “How do you deal with people with different ideas than you?” could have raised a red flag. You might have learned more from what the employer said and how they acted, as well as from people who worked with them and could tell you how the employer deals with different points of view. Even worse, if the employer had done that job decades ago, and a lot had changed since then, including technology, but they do not want to change.

Some hiring managers don’t have a growth mindset. They may be so old-fashioned that they want to keep things the same. You have to pay close attention to that.

9. Too many questions or an interview process that takes too long

In an ideal world, the interview process would be quick, involve stakeholders as much as possible, and get everyone on the same page. It wouldn’t take more than a few months. A red flag goes up when there are too many interviews, and the process takes too long. Either (or both) of these can be a sign that a team or group is too focused on getting everyone on the same page, cannot make decisions, or has trouble getting things done.

Even though the number of interviews and length of the interview process is likely to go up with the level of the position but 10 to 12 interviews are too many. These many interviews make sense for a C-level candidate but not for a director. The hiring manager should be the one to decide, so why do you need 14 interviews? What does that say about the group and how well it can do? Some companies, like Google, are taking steps to shorten long interview processes to be more successful in the war for talent.

10. Exploding offers.

Exploding offers are job offers with a strict deadline, often very short, and no longer valid after that date. Even though these are rare, they still happen sometimes.

An exploding deal is like a last chance. Ultimatums don’t respect a person’s desire to make a thoughtful career choice and weigh their options that will affect their career and way of life for years to come. It shows that the employer is rigid, insecure, and even a bully.

It also shows they have a big blind spot regarding how the company will be seen in the job market. Do you want to work for a company because you’re forced to or excited to work there? When people or groups show you who they are, you should believe them. Companies that give exploding offers aren’t likely to care about your wants and needs once you’re working for them. Instead, they’re likely to be rigid, mean, and bossy.

Even though no one can know how a new job will go, keeping an eye out for the potential red flags listed above during the interview process can help weed out less-than-ideal job choices. You can reduce the chances of making a wrong choice by paying attention to your interviews and how the process is run, asking good follow-up questions, and researching.

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Anisa is a writer who focuses on career and lifestyle topics in an effort to motivate both job searchers and employers towards greater fulfillment in their professional lives.

Reach me at anisa@jobstore.com.


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