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When you interview for a job, remember that it’s a two-way street. As much as a prospective employer is assessing you, you’re also evaluating them to ensure the right fit. This means delving into both the benefits and potential risks of the position and the company. If anything seems amiss at the interview, it’s likely that things will only go downhill from there.

Watch for these red flags:

Your interviewer is late.

Unless there’s been an emergency, tardiness is a sign of disrespect of you and your time, as well as that of others who are involved in the day’s agenda.

  • Like you, the interviewer should be well prepared. This means not only being familiar with your qualifications, but also staying on schedule and allowing ample time for a smooth meeting.
  • If they’re late, they should be professional and courteous. Rudeness, indifference or general disorganization are very telling. Just imagine how this person would be as a boss!

Your interviewer speaks ill of others.

While interviewers should speak honestly about a job and its challenges, they should never badmouth someone who works for or has recently left the company. Nor should they speak negatively of anyone else, namely your current employer as you discuss the reasons for your decision to make a move.

  • Steer clear of this negativity. For instance, rethink your direction if an interviewer makes a comment such as “Joe was just lazy. We’re looking to replace him and his poor attitude.” What’s poor here is the interviewer’s character.

The hiring manager cannot clearly explain the role.

Ambiguity in a hiring manager’s explanation of a job may prevent you from entering a role with clear expectations once an offer is made.

  • Speak up. State that the details of the job are unclear. Don’t be afraid of rocking the boat. In fact, this indicates your interest, concern and professionalism. It’s important from the onset to get a clear answer to the question “What will I be doing?” or “What does success look like in this role?”
  • Vagueness may be a sign that a position isn’t clearly defined. For starters, there should be a detailed job description. Any information you glean from an interview should be in alignment with that job description. Hearing something as vanilla as “No two days are alike in this job” may sound fun and dynamic, but it could also mean the employer is hiding something. They also should be able to clearly define related career advancement opportunities.

The company has high turnover.

If you’ve done your research, you should have an idea about this concern even before you interview. If at some point you learn that the job is being filled for the second or third time within a short period, ask why. High turnover often is associated with a toxic culture.

  • Speak to current or former employees. The last thing you want is to work for a company with a bad reputation.
  • Ask the hiring manager about their career trajectory within the company. If there have been a lot of transfers within the department where you’d be working, proceed with caution.

Online reviews are consistently negative.

This is another potential concern that you can address at an early stage. Look for recurring negative themes in online reviews of your prospective employer. A single item on a site like Glassdoor, where individuals can place anonymous critiques, may just be an unhappy former worker with an axe to grind. But if postings are recent and complain about a common problem, that carries more weight.

  • Find an appropriate way to inquire about company culture, values and management techniques during your interview. Again, this demonstrates your preparedness and initiative.

A professional search consultant from BrainWorks can guide you through your job search process to avoid interview pitfalls and help you land the position that’s right for you. Read our related posts or contact us today.


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