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4 Red Flags to Look Out For in Your Next Interview

Topics: Career Advice

Although it doesn’t always feel this way, job interviews are a two-way street. When you’re interviewing for a job, it’s not just about what the company thinks about you – it’s also how you feel about the company. A good cultural fit can mean the difference between skipping off to work with a song in your heart and dragging yourself to the office like you’re headed to the DMV. Not a seasoned interviewer? Never fear. You can learn to recognize the red flags that indicate this job isn’t for you – during the interview process and before you take that job offer.

warning sign

(Photo Credit: flatworldsedge/flickr)

“We Work Hard and Play Hard”
You’ve probably heard this phrase before, but it definitely doesn’t mean the same thing for every company. At worst, this means that you’re likely going to be working more than 40 hours a week, and you’re probably going to be expected to check your email after work hours. If you’re headed into any kind of startup environment, this isn’t out of the norm. But if you’re looking for more work/life balance, this statement should come as a huge red flag for you.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

“You’ll Wear Many Hats in This Role”
And by many hats, they mean that you’re going to be doing a lot of work that is outside your main job role. If you’re not comfortable with that kind of ambiguous responsibility, think twice before moving forward with the job. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with “wearing many hats,” the benefit is that you will be able to learn more and gain more responsibilities than those with singular job roles, thus getting more experience.

“What Job Are You Interviewing for Again?”
If you’re in an interview and the interviewer asks you this question, you’re better off applying elsewhere. Not only is this incredibly rude, but it reveals that the company is unprepared and disorganized. Plus, if that’s how they treat their potential employees, who knows how terribly they treat their current ones.

“This Isn’t a Scam”
Not much to say here except that If your interviewer feels the need to call out that the job role you’re interviewing for isn’t a scam, it’s definitely a scam. People working in jobs like sales and marketing will encounter this more than others. No matter what job you’re interviewing for, the moment you feel it may be a scam, it’s probably time to look for a different place to apply.

Tell Us What You Think!

Do you know of any interview red flags we missed? Comment below or join the discussion on Twitter.


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Maura
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Maura

Red flags I ignored on my previous job was that the interviewer was always incredibly late. It shows how they’ll treat you or their other subordinates in general. The words “we are like family here” was also overlooked by me, as it turned out the company was full of bullshit and the professionality is ridiculously low, up to the point it seems like nobody is taking control of anything so everyone can do whatever the hell they want. The biggest one was that the manager was already bad mouthing the person whose position I will fill. It turns out she… Read more »

Jon
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Jon

There is a company in Huntsville, AL named Rocket City LLC known for having whom they hire sell Vacuums. They say they provide vehicles for their employees to drive and to sell 2000 dollar vaccums and be paid $2,000 each month. I hear there is a catch that to stay there you have to reach a quota despite in the interview being told no quota matters. Also, the interview is very short as big red flag asking of past criminal background, how available you are and how long you are looking for work. Also, one of the biggest red flags… Read more »

Roberta
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Roberta

Joy gave better advice from the commentary than the article! You should get her to write some pieces for you.

Roberta
Guest
Roberta

This article is unremarkable. I could have written. No news for me.

Partev
Guest
Partev

Work hard, play hard,….
They start you in a narrowly defined job, but then they add to it and expect you to wear many hats, do many things adjunct to your normal duties,…. and then expect it all done in the alloted 40-hour week. And not give you a raise to compensate you for it. Been a number of places I’ve worked at where that’s been the case.

Harris E. Torner
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Harris E. Torner

Have not looked for a job in over twenty years, which I am now doing. What forms of ID are required to prove eligibility to work in US?

Abby
Guest
Abby

When you are asked what year you graduated from high school. This is just a way to determine your age which is illegal to ask. Any employer who asks questions designed to violate the laws governing what is illegal to ask during an interview is generally going to be unethical in their business practices and the way they treat employees.

Abby
Guest
Abby

When the proposed salary far exceeds any other position you’ve applied for. Also when the answer to why the position is available is that the company is going through some transition. Another red flag: If you are required to pay any fees up front – or at all.

Joy
Guest
Joy

Again, last 4 digit is only required on w4 taxes to be employed and can fill H section total number never the box above to avoid giving your emplorer personal information. You can verify with the dept of labor at your local city state, the case is the system they input only takes last 4 digit. People protect your vital personal data, sime employer are lurking just craving your personal information and you have a choice in opt-out-america. The important freedoms secured U.S. constitution and expressed in EOE. In the u.s.a its important to assert your rights as its typical… Read more »

Karen
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Karen

@Joy. Don’t you have to give your full SS on the Form I-9?

Karen
Guest
Karen

@Joy. Don’t you have to give your full SS on the Form I-9?

Joy
Guest
Joy

Asking for your age on the interview, not a legal question as how can you bean Equal opportunity employer asking a personal question. Also, asking do you have kids?-not legal as these question do regular to small talk even after hired is not legal as they are looking for personal information to gauge retirement cost and insurance cost. Also never ever give your full ss on w4 they only need last 4 and mever dob even for db excuse of payroll. The employer doesnt need your age or anyother personal matter to make a hire decision. The decision shouldbe based… Read more »

Ex-Sprint
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Ex-Sprint

Should have seen the writing on the wall when the admin bringing me to meet the boss told me that they have to have open air cubes for the employees so they can make sure that they are working. Seeing all of the employees giving us furtive looks like they were scared of being noticed, all red flags. If the management team doesn’t trust the employees and the employees are scared, it is time to leave. I didn’t make it through 5 minutes before I knew that the new Japanese management at Sprint was not the group I ever wanted… Read more »

AB
Guest
AB

When your interviewer asks you if you plan on having kids…and that the company cannot afford to pay a bonus. When they tell you they cannot pay you the salary you ask for because you would be making more than the guy who has been working there for 5 years.
If only I had listened to my guy instead of the recruiter who convinced me that i’d be throwing away a good opportunity.

Robin
Guest
Robin

“Be a “team player” &
“We’re all family here”

Red flags for me.

JD & Company
Guest
JD & Company

From a candidate’s point of view, draw the line at three cliche’s during the first interview. You know them all by now. Also, when you hear “multi-tasking,” “long hours and weekends are the norm,” and bring a “thick skin to work” are used in an interview….call it a no-go, and withdrawal from further consideration. You can bet that the turnover and morale in that hypothetical company is going to be just awful. Life is short, and when it comes down to it, there is no justifiable reason to work in a miserable environment.

Kimberly
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Kimberly

I recently had a phone interview where the head of business development said that the current head of marketing wasn’t pulling her weight and required too much input. I asked specifically what she was struggling at and I was told getting the right kind of qualified leads. Later in the discussion she told me they’re smashing all of their sales goals and business hasn’t been better … adding that one should never expect to leave by 5pm. I think I sensed a few red flags: a) conflicting answers, b) criticizing someone’s performance, c) unable to give specifics, d) proudly flaunting… Read more »

CC
Guest
CC

When you know your skill sets and what you bring to the table, go through multiple interviews (yes, they’re interested in you) but they aren’t willing to discuss/negotiate salary. Salary discussions are never one-sided; any employer worth their salt will encourage negotiating.

Thembi
Guest
Thembi

What I find a red flag, is when the company wants to test you with a project they are currently working on.

Dave R
Guest
Dave R

When the interviewer is very vague about how the position became available (vacant) or why the prior individual in the role left, it’s often a red flag for me. That doesn’t mean we should expect the interviewer to violate their HR policies, but even a general statement about a vacancy is always applicable.

Sherry Dalton
Guest
Sherry Dalton

I filled out an application for an RN position very late in the evening and they called me in less than 12 hours to interview that day. This was a red flag for me.

Eddie Rodriguez
Guest
Eddie Rodriguez

When you aske about salary increases or pay raises and their answer is “they like to do incentives” find out exactly what the incentives are before you sign. They are usually unobtainable or they don’t actually exist. Now your signed on and it’s too late and you realize your doing a job that has no forward progression.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.