9 Red Flags to Look Out for During the Interview Process

Nov 16, 2023

When an interview offer hits your inbox, it’s natural to get excited about the prospect of a new job. Suddenly, you’re in an interview where something just doesn’t seem right. Chances are that your instincts are correct, and you spotted an interview red flag.

A red flag is anything that raises concern during the interview process, and it can happen at any stage. Keep the following red flags in mind to stay vigilant and decide if a potential job is the right fit for you.


Red Flag #1: Unclear job description

A standard job description should list specific responsibilities, qualifications, and information about the company. A lack of detailed information can lead to misunderstanding throughout the process, so it may be best to skip that application. Additionally, be wary of buzzwords like “mentorship”, “entrepreneurial”, and “multitasking”. Descriptions with these words may hint that it is not a legitimate position.


Red Flag #2: Unprofessionalism

An interview is a mutual experience. If the hiring manager is not treating you with the same professionalism as you are bringing to the interview, it may be a reflection of how you will be treated on the job. This can come in many forms including lateness, lack of interest, a rushed interview, or disorganization. How someone treats you in an interview is indicative of company culture.


Red Flag #3: Long interview process

According to GetHired by LinkedIn News, the hiring process takes three to six weeks on average. Keep in mind that the process may vary depending on the job level. At any level, though, beware of a constant lack of communication or long increments between interviews. A lengthy process can be indicative of indecisiveness or disorganization within the company.


Red Flag #4: Inappropriate and illegal interview questions

Federal law prohibits hiring managers from discriminating against a candidate based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, age, citizenship status, or disability. Questions about any of the above (especially if it does not pertain to the job) are illegal. Be polite but firm in setting boundaries. You don’t have to answer any questions that you’re not comfortable with.


Red Flag #5: Hesitant or vague answers

Transparency is crucial in the interview process. An interviewer should explain the job in detail and answer any of your questions in full. If an interviewer is reluctant to share information, it could suggest they have something to hide. Ask clarifying questions if you are confused at any time. This will help you to better understand the situation and make an informed decision.


Red Flag #6: Overemphasis on perks

While benefits are an important part of any job, be mindful of gimmicky extras that a company advertises. For example, unlimited vacation, a ping pong table in the office, or free ice cream may be covering up for poor work-life balance. Superficial perks may sound nice, but don’t let that distract you from the actual job.


Red Flag #7: Lack of diversity and inclusion

A homogenous company will likely not offer a welcoming environment. It can also lead to harassment and isolation which can affect your personal life. Diversity is an imperative aspect of a healthy workplace where ideas can be shared, and different experiences can be celebrated.


Red Flag #8: Low or Inflexible pay

Before going into an interview, it is a good idea to know the average market salary for the job. If the pay does not align with your research or does not compensate for the responsibilities, it’s best to search for other options. The same thing goes if a company is unwilling to negotiate your salary. These could be signs of financial instability or a lack of commitment to employee well-being.


Red Flag #9: Negative reviews

Checking employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor is a great way to gauge a company’s culture, management, and work environment. It’s normal for companies to have one or two unsavory reviews but proceed with caution if you see consistent negative reviews.


How to deal with red flags in an interview

One red flag alone doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid a job, but multiple red flags should raise serious concerns. If something feels off at any time in the interview process, trust your instincts and walk away from the offer. Remember that honoring your feelings and guarding your mental health take priority over a potential job.

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