6 Job Interview Red Flags for Candidates


Don’t ignore job interview red flags. If something isn’t sitting right with you, go with your gut and explore your reasons for feeling off. Job interviews are a two-way street. You should be learning as much about the employer as they are you.

Everyone has an off day.  If a hiring manager says or does something that seems a bit off, it might not necessarily be a deal breaker. However, if several suspicious situations arise, think long and hard about how badly you want this job. Chances are, you won’t be happy in  a place that doesn’t make a positive impression from the very beginning.

Job Interview Red Flags

1. Lack of respect for your time

You do everything by the book. You show up fifteen minutes ahead of time looking polished and shined, and you practice your responses so they’re concise. After all, the last thing you want to do is waste the hiring manager’s time.

You know what? You deserve the same respect.

When the hiring manager is late for your meeting or spends your time together talking on the phone, joking with staff, or looking at a computer screen, it should set off  screaming red flags. You want to work with people who appreciate your time, and with whom your share a mutual respect. You can tell a lot about how management treats their staff by how they conduct interviews.

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2. Talking smack about other people in the office

If the hiring manager is saying mean things about people in the office, it should set off another job interview red flag. There is no reason why you, a total stranger, needs to hear why the person you’re replacing didn’t work out. Moreover, you shouldn’t be learning about potential co-workers’ work habits, personal life, or whether or not the hiring manager likes them. Consider this: If the hiring manager gossips with you –or in front of you — it’s likely this person will gossip about you as well. Do you really want to work with someone who’s already proven you can’t trust them to be discreet and professional?

3. Poor treatment of staff

How staff is treated in front of you should give an indication of how you’ll also be treated. If management is rude, short, berating, or unreasonable, you should probably expect the same. You might not be seeing a manager’s true colors during an interview, either. It’s not a bad idea to pay attention to your surroundings to see how both management and staff are behaving in a normal setting.

4. Your interviewer is unprepared

Everyone involved needs to come to an interview prepared. The hiring manager should have a good idea of your experience, areas of expertise, and achievements before you sit down to talk. No one can adequately fill a job without doing adequate research on each candidate. If an interviewer is only looking over your resume as you answer questions, it might be good to ask yourself if that person will always be unprepared. Moreover, your interviewer owes you the courtesy of knowing who you are before you begin the process. It’s ok to wonder if it’s a good idea to work for someone who doesn’t show enough respect for job candidates to learn what they’re all about.

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5. A very quick job interview

If you’re in and out of a job interview within minutes, it either didn’t go well or the interviewer isn’t very skilled. Both scenarios are important job interview red flags.

A quick interview can mean an interviewer learned everything s/he needs to know about you in the first few minutes and doesn’t want to waste any more time with formalities.

On the other hand, a quick interview can also mean the interviewer has no idea what questions to ask or situations to discuss in order to flesh out your ability. In this scenario, you’ll want to ask yourself if you want to work for a place that has inexperienced or incompetent people doing the hiring.

 6. Questions are too personal

Hiring managers  aren’t allowed to ask to ask certain questions. For example, they can’t ask about religion, age, sexual preference, or marital status. Hiring managers also can’t inquire about a maiden name, whether or not you have children, your nationality, where you were born, whether or not you’re disabled, or your personal credit history.

An employer isn’t allowed to discriminate, and a job interview should only focus on your ability to do the job. Red flags should go up any time you’re asked these questions because it could indicate discrimination, or that a company expects you to work long hours.

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Something feels off

Go with your gut. If you don’t feel right after witnessing rude or discriminatory behavior, or if you feel the hiring agency wasn’t respectful of your time, it’s best to pass on the opportunity. It’s better to continue interviewing than to work for a place where you’ll probably be unhappy. Pay attention to job interview red flags; they could be sharing some very important information.


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