Watch For These Red Flags At a Job Interview

Job-hunting can be stressful.

You are super-focused on getting hired. So focused in fact that you forget the interview process is a two-way street.

I mean you really want the job right? So it’s all about a great resume and presenting yourself in your best light to (hopefully) land an offer.

But what about the prospective employer?

Shouldn’t they be putting their best foot forward as well? Shouldn’t they want to attract the best candidate?

An interview isn’t only about the employer deciding if you are the right person for the job.

It’s also your opportunity to determine if this is the job and the company for you.

Signs of a good fit can be different for everyone. But keep an eye out for these red flags at a job interview. They signal a warning that this might not be the place for you:


The interviewer doesn’t give you a chance to ask questions (or even inquire if you have any).

A good employer wants to learn as much as possible about you and your qualifications for the job. They also want to know that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. The questions YOU ask are very important in that process.

If your interviewer seems to be talking at you, rushes through and doesn’t ask if you have any questions you should wonder if they even care who they hire?

Not giving you a chance to ask questions shows a lack of interest in you as a prospective employee. Is this the way staff is treated once employed?

Think twice if you receive a job offer.


Responsibilities discussed don’t seem to match the job description.

So you apply for a job based on the description provided and yet the interviewer seems to be talking about a very different set of responsibilities. Or glossing over the more robust parts of the job.

If it’s a varied role it could easily be that the person doing the interviewing is focused on only one area. But you should see a red flag if it doesn’t sound anything like the description in the job posting.

Hopefully you are able to ask sufficient questions to clarify your understanding of the position. Questions like: “what defines success in this role?

The warning here is that sometimes companies will create a more glamorous outline for a call centre or phone sales job just to attract applicants.

If you are unable to secure a clear picture of the job or have any doubts, best to give it a pass.


The interviewer is way behind schedule.

I’m not talking 5 minutes here. Very few of us in business would give much thought to someone running a little behind. (Although prompt is good.)

But if your interviewer keeps you waiting a really long time it should raise a red flag especially if you are not offered an apology or explanation. After all, interviews are typically scheduled well in advance.

That being said emergencies do occur. If this happens, you should expect an apology and brief explanation. You may be asked if you are able to wait and told for how long or even asked if you’d like to reschedule. These are all signs the company respects your time and you can decide accordingly.

Your time should be considered every bit as valuable as the prospective employer. If they do not treat it as such, consider what it might be like to be an employee.

And here’s a further thought. Do they treat their customers that way?

Carefully consider a job offer.


They badmouth the person who held the job previously.

In the same way that you should never have anything negative to say about a former employer, neither should the employer badmouth a former employee. Or anyone else at the company for that matter.

If your interviewer doesn’t exercise good judgment in speaking about others (particularly when it comes to confidential information) consider what they might share about you if you worked there.

Keep looking.


The interview is interrupted for any number of reasons.

Checking email, other staff popping in to ask questions, getting way off topic as they talk at length about themselves – any number of interruptions like this can provide insight as to what it might be like to work for this person. (This assumes of course that your interviewer would be your manager.)

Even if you won’t be reporting directly to this person, you may want to think twice about a work culture that isn’t respectful of others.

Might be best to move on.


No matter how excited you are about the prospect of the job, don’t lose sight of the fact that this is your time to find out about the company you will be working for.

After all, most of your waking hours will be spent there.

While it’s impossible to know exactly what it’s like to work at any company (and no company is perfect) don’t ignore red flags.

Chances are they are providing a legitimate warning.

Better to say “no”. You don’t want to have to start job-hunting all over again when it doesn’t work out!



Post by Margaret Johnston,

As a career event professional, Margaret brings valuable insight and knowledge to the recruitment, management and development of high-performance teams for the event industry. A strategic and inspiring leader, Margaret has held executive roles for several global event management companies and key roles in the start up and orchestration of many high profile and international events.


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