Job interviews are supposed to be an opportunity for a candidate to interview their prospective employer too, but unfortunately most candidates forget this during an interview. These interviews are stressful, whether they are in-person or via workplace video conferencing platforms like zoom, Google meet and Microsoft teams.
It is easy for candidates’ nerves to get the better of them. They are so busy telling the interviewer why they should hire them that they forget to pay attention to the body-language and demeanour of the interviewer toward them.
Some candidates do not even know the red flags to look out for during an interview
The Red Flags
I have attended job interviews and while waiting for my turn I noticed the employees of my prospective employers look extremely miserable and unhappy. Sometimes they wonder why I want to join the misery when they are trying to get out of it.
You may have had a great interview, but on your way out ask to take a walk around or briefly spend some time at the reception. The best place to get information about an organisation is sitting at the reception for a few hours. You get to hear and see a lot about the company. Briefly observe the other employees at their desks. In a toxic workplace, you will hear staff complaining and wondering why you want to join their company.
During the interview process, if the hiring manager likes you they will be spinning their answers in a positive light – just like you will be doing as a candidate. You need to discover more about the organisation outside the interview.
Your first impressions was negative
I do not advocate for judging others or writing-off a potential employer just because you had issues with their style of interview, but it’s important to assess your general impressions of the recruitment and selection process. Seeing these signs will tell if you are not a fit with the company. And that’s okay. It is much better to be disappointed now than to find yourself back on the job market or struggle with a new job knowing you saw the red flag.
Physical evidence gives you great insight into the company you are joining. Physical evidence includes poor workplace facilities: Look at the office building, which will usually be an old building with poor lighting, hanging electrical wires, terrible wash-rooms with broken facilities, old and uncomfortable furniture, bad ventilation, poor canteen structures or spaces, and any vehicles for office use are in terrible shape. This is a clear indication employers do not really care about their employees’ health and safety.
The interviewer is late, ill-prepared or unfocused
An interviewer being a few minutes late is understandable and shouldn’t be seen as cause for concern, especially when they apologise. But hours of waiting without any explanation from the hiring manager is very disrespectful and must not be tolerated. Interviewers just reading your resume for the first time during the interview may indicate that your prospective employer does not value your time and role. Most hiring Managers are most likely to be on their best behaviour during the recruitment and selection process; thus, it is unacceptable for them not to review your resume before meeting you and hence not value your time.
The interviewer isn’t receptive to questions
An employer who is evasive in answering your questions or is giving you vague answers may be showing a sign that they may have something to hide, or are trying to fill the position before you have time to have your doubts about it. I have experienced this a number of times when it comes to Sales and Marketing roles and availability of resources at your disposal to work.
Employers who do not have the resources they advertised along with the role will try and avoid it or give general answers – “We will provide the resources needed for you to deliver“ without giving specifics, only for you to discover after accepting the role that they don’t have the resources for you to perform your duties. Guess what? After accepting the role, the employers will pretend the resources are not part of the role and targets must be delivered at all costs.
There’s high turnover, particularly in your role
I have applied to job roles and during my research process discovered that my predecessors lasted an average of three months before they resigned. Unfortunately, you might never know the real reason why they resigned – but it gives a clear indication there is a challenge with the role.
When you discover high turnover in the role you applied for, resist the urge to ignore that red flag.
I made this exact mistake when I accepted one of my early Sales and Marketing roles in my career. Although I asked about the high turnover during the interview, I was too quick to accept the employer’s explanation. I should have noted his avoidance of taking responsibility for the frequent resignations. I discovered later that the employer had a history of verbally and emotionally abusing his employees.
If turnover emerges as a theme in the role you’re interviewing for:
- Ask follow-up questions to understand why that is. Ask about the on-boarding process for the first 90 days of the role.
- Research on the resources available to support your work.
- Research more about your company after the interview.
You have a gut-feeling
Even if you’re unable to pinpoint anything specific to justify your negative impression of a particular employer, you shouldn’t ignore your gut-feeling. If you are sure something is not right, listen to your gut-feeling.
Remember that taking a new role constitutes a commitment of your resources over a period of time, and it can affect you long-term.
You deserve to be treated with respect as a candidate. The attitude projected to you by your prospective employer during recruitment and selection process is unlikely to change, but will get worse when you accept the role.
There are much better employers out there which are more deserving of your talents and resources.
You owe it to yourself to take your time, be a little selective and choose the job you feel good about.