Beware of the Top 5 Interview Red Flags

Top 5 Interview Red Flags


Interviews can be extremely stressful for jobseekers.  Whether you are employed or not, companies are looking for an ideal fit, and competition is increasingly fierce in this job market. A candidate wants to make the best possible impression, especially if the job is exactly what he or she is looking for.  As a result of this, many candidates don’t pay attention to interview “red flags”.


When you are interviewing for a position, you should also be paying close attention to what you see and hear, and interviewing the company to see if it is the right fit. Ultimately, your employer will be a place where you spend a great deal of your day, and where you build the essential skills to progress your career. Taking the wrong job can not only hurt your resume, but can sideline your career progression for years to come.


What are some red flags to look for when you are interviewing for a new job? We have compiled some of the most common are some warning signs that the company may not be your perfect next step.


1. Exceedingly Short or Very Long Process


A hiring process that drags on for many months is often a negative sign for several reasons.  A long process could provide insight as to how definitively the company makes decisions.  If it takes a long time for hiring decisions to be made, the company may not have issues with overall processes.  It may also demonstrate that they have not defined clear expectations for what they are looking for, and may be dragging out a hiring decision until a “perfect” candidate comes along.

It is important to pay attention to a very rapid timeframe when it comes to the hiring process.  While it may seem amazing to get an immediate job offer, it can also be something to be wary of.  It indicates that the organization is in desperate need to fill the position.  This means they may be open to hiring anyone, even if they don’t possess all of the necessary skills.  This could put you in a tricky spot if you haven’t had experience in a certain area.  It could also mean that the company does not reflect before making decisions, which could mean rapid cuts to the workforce when the economy contracts.


2. Unclear Job Description


Another item to investigate during the interview process is the job description.  You may have reviewed the initial description when you were applying or networking for the job, but it is important to understand clear expectations from the hiring manager.  He or she may communicate additional skills that may be required – skills that differ from what you see on paper. Understanding expectations will help better define a career path within the company. This may also help identify future advancement opportunities.

If the employer cannot provide a written job description, or a clear explanation of your responsibilities, this is a major red flag.  Without clear direction, it will be difficult to determine if you are meeting or exceeding expectations and growing in your field.  This will not only affect your daily tasks, but it will also impair future growth opportunities.


3. Work Environment


Understanding (and feeling comfortable in) a work environment is critical when it comes to looking for a new job.  Take a close look around the office when you are there, and evaluate your surroundings.  Do you see yourself working and fitting in at the office?  Take note of how employees interact with one another and how they treat you.  Everyone from the person at the front desk to folks passing by. Much can be learned about a company by sitting in the waiting area and observing for a few minutes. If employees look miserable, you can bet that they are. Do they interact easily with their colleagues, or does it seem awkward or strained? Not every work environment is a party every day, but look for positive, upbeat attitudes in individuals, versus stressed and angry.


4. Communication and Preparedness of Interviewers


Pay particularly close attention to your communication with the person you will be reporting to.  Do you feel that he or she is someone that you can get along with and/or learn from?  Do they have realistic expectations of their ideal candidate (and the role itself)?

This one may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked when candidates are interviewing.  Look for genuine interest during your conversation, direct eye contact, and clear goals. If possible, try to understand this person’s career progression, and if you can learn from him or her. Has this person prepared for you by reading your resume?  If the person seems frazzled and disorganized and doesn’t spend adequate time with you (unless something understandable comes up), it may be an indication of his or her management style.  Did the communication seem to flow easily, or was it broken and uncomfortable? This is the person you will need to come to with problems and advice.  A good manager is willing to take the time to ask thoughtful questions and is concerned about making the right hire.  It should be a positive experience for both parties.


5. Unusually High Turnover


Finally, be sure to inquire about why the position is open. In today’s job market, there are many logical reasons a position is vacant, which may also include poor performance by the former employee. Understanding what happened to the previous employee will not only give you insight into the manger’s expectations, but may also assist you in avoiding grave errors yourself. How the employer communicates this is also important. Remaining honest, yet professional, rather than insulting or gossiping about the former employee will help you understand how professional the work environment is. Not being truthful, or not giving any logical explanation should raise major concerns for any candidate.

While researching the company, turn to sights such as to understand average tenure and overall impression of the organization. Be sure to keep in mind, though, that negative reviews likely come from employees that have been fired, so read them objectively. There are two sides to every story.


What advice would you give to a jobseeker? Is there a red flag that you wish you had noticed when you were interviewing? We would love to hear your insight! Please feel free to comment below, or email us directly at

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by Natalie Lemons

Natalie Lemons is the Founder and President of Resilience Group, LLC, and The Resilient Recruiter and Co-Founder of Need a New Gig. She specializes in the area of Executive Search and services a diverse group of national and international companies, focusing on mid to upper-level management searches in a variety of industries. For more articles like this, follow her blog. Resilient Recruiter is an Amazon Associate.

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