7 Red Flags You Should Watch for in a Job Interview

candidate red flags

Have you ever left a job interview with nagging doubts about the employer? Count yourself lucky for noticing. You undoubtedly spotted some red flags.

Let's say you were excited about your new job opportunity when you arrived at company headquarters for an interview. But then the hiring manager made you wait in the lobby an extra hour. He didn’t maintain eye contact or inquire about your professional goals during your interview. And when you asked for examples of how you might use your accounting skills and experience to contribute to the company’s performance and growth, he gave an elusive answer.

Alone, one of those job interview missteps might be acceptable. But together, they’re a clarion call to politely pull out of consideration and keep looking for a new position, even if you’re desperate to get out of your current job or need to start earning a paycheck soon.

Here are seven job interview red flags that candidates shouldn’t ignore:

1. Valid questions get vague answers

Of course, it’s never appropriate for the interviewer to reveal personal information about a previous employee. But the hiring manager should be able to address any queries you have about the expectations for the position and provide some history about the role and its influence on company operations. Look for direct answers to questions like the following: What is the first challenge the person hired for this job will have to deal with? What do you see as the finance or accounting department's mission? What are the pros and cons of the job? What can you tell me about the person to whom I would report?

2. The interviewer can’t provide a clear picture of the job

No matter whether you’re applying to be an entry-level staff accountant or the chief financial officer, your interviewer should be able to explain the responsibilities of the role and how success will be measured. If he can’t, you will likely have a difficult time forging a clear career path in the company. 

3. Descriptions of work environment are neutral 

Ask the hiring manager what he likes most about working at the company. If he can’t answer without hemming and hawing, it could signal job dissatisfaction on his part. If the opportunity arises during your visit, pose the same question to other employees in the department, from the accounting manager to the data entry clerk. Do they seem enthused about their daily responsibilities? Are they rewarded for their efforts? Are there opportunities for advancement? Pay attention to the office “mood.”

4. Employee tenure is short

A pattern of employee turnover can be a symptom of a high-stress, low-morale office culture. If you learn that previous employees didn’t stay long at the company, and there’s no evidence of tenure among the staff, you might have a bad-boss situation or a toxic work environment.

5. The hiring manager isn’t prepared

Just as you’ve invested time preparing for the interview, made sure to show up promptly, studied expectations for the available position and arrived with questions about the company and its goals, your prospective employer should also be ready to assess your fit for the position. Take note if it’s apparent that the employer hasn’t read your resume, or is late for the appointment.

6. The work environment isn’t appealing to you

From the moment you walk in the door for your job interview, pay attention to the environment. Are workers actively engaged in their duties, or are they slumped over their cubicles like drones?  Does your prospective boss deal with his peers and subordinates in a professional manner, or does he seem aloof and dismissive? If you see these issues during your interview, there’s no reason to believe they’ll improve once you start working in the office.

7. You don’t feel like you’re being heard

If the hiring manager does all the talking in the interview and doesn’t appear to listen to your comments or ask thoughtful questions about your career goals and past accomplishments, that’s a red flag. You can tell whether a manager is really interested and engaged by observing his body language, eye contact and overall etiquette during the interview.

Red flags for job candidates aren’t hard to spot if you know what to look for during the interview. Don’t disregard them. Instead, turn your attention to finding employment elsewhere.

Still looking? Go to our Job Search page and see what the available, or let our recruiters take a look. 


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Tags: Interviewing