The interview process is just like the beginning of any other relationship- it’s just more business-y. The interviewer is looking to see if they found a good hire and the interviewee is looking to see if the company and job position are a good fit for them.
Unfortunately the interview process itself can cloud the judgments we are trying to make.
Am I wearing the right clothes?
Did I say the right thing?
Did I ask the right questions?
Misgivings get overlooked, gut feelings are valued over the facts and as a result, poor decisions are made. You need to be alert during an interview.
Whether you are the interviewer or interviewee, you should be able to spot red flags that clearly say, “this isn’t going to work.”
Interview Red Flags for the Interviewee
1) The "Ambiguous Job Description" Interview
Interviewer: “This job is just like any other marketing job”
It’s not a good thing if the interviewer can’t explain the job role clearly. They may dance around the role by discussing the type of person they think will be a good fit for the job, but that’s not the same as being told what the job is.
Speak up if this is the case. It’s okay to ask for clarity and specifics! This will ensure that you enter the job role with clear expectations if it is offered to you.
2) The "Too Much Information" Interview
Interviewer: “Megan is just lazy, we are looking for you to replace her and her bad attitude.”
Congratulations, you aren’t even hired yet and you are already lending an ear to company gossip! The interviewer should never speak ill of the employee you may be replacing, or any employees for that matter.
If this kind of behavior is coming out during an interview (from personnel in a management position nonetheless), then imagine what the work environment would be if you are hired. This kind of negativity does not fuel a positive work experience; catch it before it is too late.
3) The "Didn't Review Your Application" Interview
Interviewer: “I'll be honest-- I never looked at your resume”
If you are applying with a company directly and not a recruiting firm, it’s normal to believe that your resume was looked over before the interview.
Continuing under this assumption, you may be sent for a spin when it becomes clear during an interview that the interviewer knows nothing about you. If this is the case, then the time most likely was not taken to look over your resume.
You can be offended but don’t let that overshadow what's really going on. The interviewer is unprepared and it’s important that you be on alert to understand why. This could be a one time thing or it can be ‘the usual’ so take a closer look.
4) The "Unnecessary Information" Interview
Interviewer: “Have you ever been divorced?”
Well that’s an inappropriate question to ask... and you don’t need to answer it! Interviewers will sometimes try to pull personal information from you which then brings some emotions and opinions into the interview that may not be appropriate.
You want your interview to be objective. Of course building some rapport is important but you're not there to film a reality show (unless you are interviewing for one of course), you're there to discuss employment.
Interview Red Flags for the Interviewer
5) The "Serial Job Seeker" Interview
Interviewee: “I worked there for two months, then this other place for three and now I’m here!”
Stability speaks volumes in interviews. It’s possible the interviewee has a bunch of reasons behind each job change that make logical sense. However one day they will most likely be presenting one of those reasons to your company when they quit.
Keep an eye out for someone who has experience in your industry and has excelled in their career.
6) The "I Have No Clue What I'm Doing Here" Interview
Interviewee: “So what is it that your company actually does?”
If an interviewee is asking you this during the interview, you should terminate the interview right then. If they come to the interview without knowing the basics about your company then they obviously lack a sense of responsibility and preparedness. It would have only taken a few minutes to look up your company’s website online, so there is no excuse for it.
7) The "Humblest Interviewee Ever" Interview
Interviewee: “I’ve never failed at a project; if the project failed it was always Joe’s fault.”
When discussing past work experiences, if you hear anything like the statement above, cue the alarm. People who speak this way tend to have a firm belief that they are not responsible for any of the failures. They tend find fault in their environment for the failures they experience and in a work setting this can mean coworkers.
You should look for someone who is humble and takes responsibility. Someone who has made mistakes and learned from them. Please do not hire the candidate that continues to fail due to his or her own self-ignorance.
8) The "Burning Bridges" Interview
Interviewee: “The previous company I worked for was horrible.”
This is not something you want to hear from a job candidate. Any negativity that comes from the interviewee can’t go overlooked. Plus, you don't know the full story of the situation.
You don’t want to bring negativity into your business. If they are speaking negatively in an interview they will indeed be negative in the workplace as well.
When you are conducting an interview or being interviewed, both of you are considering entering into a business relationship together.
Like any other relationship in your life you need to decide whether this is a good fit for you. So be actively present during an interview and spot the red flags as they pop up!
Originally published Jul 9, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016