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7 Interview Red Flags To Watch Out For This Year

Posted by Amy Elisa Jackson

Last Updated September 1, 2017
|6 min read

These days, job candidates are bringing their A-game to interviews. They’re prepared, well-researched, confident and sure that this is the job for them. However, we’ve all been in interviews where the recruiter or hiring manager was too busy to give you the interview you deserve. You know the type: rushed, disinterested, and simply “dialing it in.”

Before you walk away from another interview wondering, “Was I really that bad?” consider the alternative. You may not have recognized the red flags during the interview. Hone your interview skills by being on the lookout for companies that just aren’t bringing their A-game. Here are 7 interview red flags to watch out for this year.

1. Job Description Amnesia

You’ve read the job description more than a few times, plus you’ve circled and highlighted the skills and requirements you know you meet. However, now you’re on the phone with an interviewer and you’re not quite sure whether they’re asking you about the job you applied for or one that they just made up.

Glassdoor encourages employers to get prepared for interviews by reading and re-reading the job description as well as the candidate’s resume. They should be able to tell you exactly what the role requires, who the role reports to, what the team is like and what the day-to-day responsibilities might be. Watch out for interviewers who dance around specifics or seem to have forgotten the role they’re hiring for.

2. Company Culture Conflict

When you browsed the employer’s profile on Glassdoor were there pictures of fun company off-sites, team building activities and collaborative meetings, but then you arrive to find drab cubicles and employees who look less than thrilled to be working? This is what we call a company culture conflict. False advertising is a no no, and if you’re noticing that a company touts one thing but you see/experience/head something radically different, that’s a red flag.

Informed candidates, like you, should have a good understanding of the company’s culture, products and goals. You should mention company updates, photos, videos or other things that you see on an employer’s profile. Plus You should ask poignant and specific questions. If what’s professed isn’t what comes through in the interview, take note.

3. Same Ol’ Same Ol’

What’s your greatest weakness? Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work. What do you like about our company? What is your background?

If interviewers at various stages of the process seem to be asking the same handful of questions, it should make you pause and ask “Why?” While this may not be a deal breaker, repeated questions can imply that the interviewer is “dialing it in” or does not have specific questions for you as a candidate. They should be asking specific questions about your past experience, recent work history, work style and expectations. Each level of an interview process should feel slightly different and challenge you in different ways.

4. Lack Luster Leadership

The job may be everything you’ve ever dreamed of and the team may seem like you’d want to go to happy hour with them once a week, but it’s important to evaluate the leadership of a company as well. Like the captain of a ship, company leadership decides on the direction of the business, what’s important, what deserves resources and ultimately makes key decisions about future possibilities.

According to Glassdoor research, the number one factor of company culture that matters most to a satisfied workforce is the opinion of senior leadership. Be sure to ask questions about the company leadership and read reviews of the CEO on Glassdoor.

5. Future Fuzziness

Similar to leadership, one thing to dig into while you’re interviewing is the company mission, goals and roadmap. Try hard to get a clear understanding of those three things during the various stages of the interview process so that you’re clear about how your role ladders up to those elements. A clearly definite roadmap is essential for you to do your job well and for you to know how the company measures success.

If the future is fuzzy to those within the company, that may be a red flag that the ship is either shaky or sinking.

6. Unpreparedness

From the recruiter to the hiring manager and all of the team members you speak to, everyone should be prepared to interview you. A lack of preparation is a red flag, and only you can decide how important that red flag is to your final decision of whether to take the job. When an interviewer is unprepared, they aren’t giving you the most insightful answers, they aren’t able to direct you to the right people, they aren’t familiar with your background, and they aren’t engaged. Keep an eye out for these things.

According to Glassdoor research, more difficult interviews lead to higher employee satisfaction. A 10% more difficult interview was correlated to 2.6% higher employee satisfaction rating. But there is a threshold for how difficult is too difficult. On a scale of 1-5, 5 being the most difficult and 1 being the least difficult, the optimum level of difficulty for your interviews is a level 4. If you’re not getting at least one of these four things in your interview, raise an eyebrow:

  • Asked behavioral interview questions
  • Given skill based assessments
  • Assigned a project or a presentation
  • Meeting members from cross functional teams in the interview loop

7. Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Think you are beholden to the whim of a company to determine interview duration? Think again!

In a new Glassdoor study, our researchers looked at 25 countries around the world and show the latest trends in hiring duration. Among U.S. cities, the slowest hiring processes are found in Washington, D.C. (33.2 days), home of many federal government agencies. The fastest hiring processes are found in Kansas City, Kansas (16.9 days), a hub for rail transportation, manufacturing, and distribution. The U.S. industries with the longest interview processes are Government (53.8 days), Aerospace & Defense (32.6 days) and Energy & Utilities (28.8 days). The sectors with the shortest interview processes are Restaurants & Bars (10.2 days), Private Security (11.6 days) and Supermarkets (12.3 days).

This gives you the inside track on how long an interview process should take. If you’re an informed candidate, you should move through an interview process faster and a good company that really wants you should find ways to remove hurdles and unnecessary bottlenecks that may cause you to decline an offer.

While companies themselves do appear to have substantial control the length of interview processes and the style of the interview, if you are an informed candidate you’ll know how to spot the red flags and address them head on.

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