Interview Red Flags Pt 2

interview prep

As a career coach I spend a lot of time talking about interviews. As someone who worked in HR I’ve had the privilege and burden of being on both sides of the table when it comes to these horrendously imbalanced conversations. Interviews are awkward, terrifying, annoying and can feel like a wedge driven between you and the job you know you can do. It’s a chance to sell yourself but it’s also not a sales pitch which makes this already annoying conversation style even more nerve wracking. Understanding and helping people navigate this nuance is a big part of what I do as a career coach and it’s why I take every interview offered to me to practice my skills (which makes me an even better coach). 

Throughout the interview process I’ve run across some major interview red flags that I warn my clients about. I’ve already posted a blog post on a few of these. This post is a continuation on my post from last week about interview red flags that have stood out during my countless conversations. Remember this is all from my personal and professional experience so it may or may not resonate with you. Take the tips that apply to you and ignore the ones that don’t.

So without further ado let’s chat through some additional interview red flags! 

24/7 Availability 

One of the most egregious abuses of employer power is asking employees to be available 24/7. This includes expectations to respond to emails immediately regardless of time, time zone or job duties. While this issue isn’t unique to any specific industry I tend to notice it more with start-up tech companies. If a role needs you to always be available it probably isn’t worth it. And if it is an hourly role – run! 

Bait & Switch 

A bait and switch is when you apply for a specific job but when you show up for the interview the job described no longer matches the posting. This can range from minor changes like a schedule shift to unexplained changes in expected pay or benefits. An example of this would be if a role is listed with an exaggerated commission rate. With the rise in remote work I often see job postings that look legitimate but upon further examination are actually recruitment posts for MLMs (and if you need a reason to avoid them check out this blog post). 

Not Selling You on the Job 

My final red flag for you today is when an interviewer doesn’t try to sell you on the job. This is when a job is pitched as busy, stressful, overwhelming or any other adjective that doesn’t make you want to take the job (or continue the interview). This is a red flag because it can mean: 

  1. The hiring manager or interviewer is not engaged or does not care 
  2. The team is so overworked they didn’t prep for the conversation (and you want healthy work life balance) 
  3. They’ve already decided who they want to fill the role with and are waiting on a response from them/completing scheduled interviews with no intent to hire
  4. They really don’t like or understand the role or company 
  5. Or they are just a bad interviewer…

Regardless it is probably best to avoid that role unless it is your dream role. 

In conclusion I want to remind you that you have the power to reject bad job offers, you can end an interview if you feel uncomfortable and you do not have to accept a job just because it is offered to you. It’s cliche but you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. And if you need a mini pre-interview confidence boost, remember that you are selling them your skills, experience and time and they would be lucky to have you. Want to chat about your next interview 1:1? Check out my career coaching options

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices. 

Red Flags in Interviews

interviews

As someone who helps people prepare for interviews, I participate in a lot of interviews. This sounds a little crazy but I take every opportunity offered to me to practice and hone my skills. I quite literally take one for the team on this but I know it makes me a better and more effective coach for my career coaching clients. 

Due to my exposure to interviews from my time in HR and my self-inflicted torture, I have wound up with a lengthy list of interview red flags or warning signs. Today I want to share with you some of the job posting/interview red flags I’ve come across as well as some of my favorite questions to ask in an interview. 

Before you begin, remember these are MY red flags – use your own discernment to see if these apply to you and your life or career goals. 

Work Hard Play Hard or Hustle & Grind

If I see either of those phrases in a job posting it sets off immediate alarm bells. The former is a warning that you will have no work life balance and get invited to too many happy hours after working too long of days. The latter is a warning that you will be held to unrealistic standards of productivity. I personally do not support either of those. 

Working hard is ok but working without boundaries, balance or breaks is a one way ticket to burnout. 

Acting Weird about Pay and Benefits Questions 

Pay is a SUPER important topic and it should not be taboo. Unfortunately money can be a really uncomfortable subject and as the candidate you are often put in the vulnerable position of having to state a number first. While companies are getting better about (or being required to) posting salary information it’s not always immediately available when you apply. When I bring up salary and the company gets cagey or lowballs me I take that as a major red flag that I would not be getting fair or competitive pay in the role. 

Another big red flag is if they don’t have a handle on explaining their benefits package (US specific due to our lack of universal healthcare). 

Politician Answers – Not Answering Your Questions or Refusing to Acknowledge Negatives 

One of my favorite questions to ask in an interview is “What is a really good day like in this role and what is a really bad day like in this role?” Occasionally I receive responses to these questions that twist the negatives of the role into a positive. When that happens I assume the team has a toxic positivity problem that they are not acknowledging. I personally take that as a major red flag. Working on a team that can acknowledge struggles and support each other on bad days is important to me. 

And as a bonus here are a couple questions I like to ask in interviews

  1. What is a good day like in this role? What is a bad day like in this role? 
  2. Is this role staying remote? If not, is it possible to make it remote or flex? 
  3. How do you handle mistakes as a team and as a manager? 

One Final Interview Reminder

As a reminder you are allowed to set boundaries around interviews- they can take a lot of energy to power through. Interviews are awkward, they can be uncomfortable and you absolutely have the power to end the conversation the moment you feel uneasy. If you want help preparing for an interview, building your career confidence, setting work life balance boundaries or setting goals please reach out! I’m happy to help you through a coaching session.

Leave me a comment if you want to see more of my interview red flags! 

**I am a life and career coach. The tips I share are based on my experience, my clients experience and my time working in HR. I am not responsible for your life choices.