You’ve been sitting, waiting for what seems hours with an ominous white clock hovering overhead, counting down each moment, tick, tick, tick, as beads of sweat drip down your nervous brow, and the knot on your tie seems to feel as though its cinching tighter and tighter around your neck.
There are quick flashes of movement darting back and forth outside the frosted glass door, strange noises, muffled yelling, frantic voices, and thoughts begin to race in your head as to what’s going on and who’s there.
Finally, you hear the door creak open, and you shoot to your feet in response, only to be greeted by a clammy, limp handshake and a leering gesture as if you’re about to be devoured, when you realize this is the last place on earth you want to be…
While your first impression of most companies won’t start out like the next zombie apocalypse or ‘choose your own adventure’ story, the job interview does provide you with a first glimpse into what’s in store, should you decide to work there. If you want to be sure you’re not wasting your days away unhappy in your next role until you can uncover a means of escape, keep your eyes peeled for these red flags in the interview process:
High Turnover & Long Term Vacancies
It’s okay to ask in the interview how long typical employees have stayed with the company or how long a position has been open and why. If you feel like you’re getting the run around to your answer, it’s probably because employees are running for the hills.
If the company is honest about their turnover, find out why it’s occurring, if the issues are being addressed, and if you feel okay with their response. Poor management, lack of new hire training, and miserable work hours are just a few things that can have employees scrambling for the exit door.
The One-Way Interview
Feel like the interviewers are playing good cop, bad cop and you’re in the hot seat, only allowed to speak when spoken to? The interview should be an open discussion for both parties to find out if there is a mutual fit.
If the conversation is completely one-sided in either direction, start to ask yourself what’s going on. If you’re not allowed to ask questions or get cut off every time you try to explore a topic with the interviewer, that could very well be a reflection of the type of culture you could be walking into.
The Snake Charmer
Everyone enjoys a bit of praise, but did you leave the interview on cloud nine, feeling as though you could do no wrong in the interviewer’s eyes? Be wary of too many compliments and not enough questions in an interview as this could mean a sign of desperation on the employer’s part to charm you into a role they have trouble filling.
No matter how much a potential employer may like you, they should still be trying to vet you during the interview process to ensure there is a good fit for both parties. And remember what your mother always said, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is (after all, it’s probably safe to say no one likes you that much, except your mom.)
The Long and Short End of the Stick
Are you being rushed out the door before you even shook hands or are you jumping through hoops in interview after interview, meeting with the umpteenth senior manager and still don’t know how far along you are in the process? The length of the interview should be fairly balanced in line with the responsibilities of the position. Interview processes that are too long or too short should raise flags to how the company operates.
If they don’t have time for the interview, are they really going to have time to listen to your new ideas. And on the other end of the spectrum, if it took 5 interviews and meeting with 10 people to make a decision to hire you–is that the process for every decision the company makes?
Were you greeted by being called Sally, when your name is Rick? Did you find yourself repeating the same answers to the same questions, to the same person you already spoke to on the phone, in person. Did you feel like you could never quite catch the interviewer’s eye because they were distracted by something else? Does it seem like your interviewer forgot the motto ‘always be prepared.’
Just like candidates, interviewers should be doing basic preparation for their meeting with you, whether they’ve spoken with you previously or not. If they don’t know who you are or why you’re sitting in the chair across from them, chances are, you might think twice about working for them. While many employers may be strapped for time and resources, respect for the interview process goes both ways.
It can be thrilling to feel wanted when you’re offered a job, especially if you’ve been looking for a while. Make sure you want to work for the employer as much as you think they want you to represent them. If you spot one of these red flags in your next job interview, it’s time to start asking some questions before you fall in line with the army of people trying to pursue you, and risk becoming part of the walking dead. Brains, anyone?