Interviewing is an art-form for both the job seeker and the hiring manager. A simple mistake by either party can raise enough doubt to leave the other looking elsewhere. After much reflection on what’s turned me off to a job in the past, I’ve come up with seven interview red flags that will leave me saying, “Thanks, but no thanks” to your job offer.
1. You’re Negative
If you’re bad-mouthing the company, other employees, your workload, or even yourself, then chances are slim that I’ll come on board as your newest employee. Why? Because negativity is toxic. It tells me that morale is low and that you don’t enjoy your job. I recognize it’s possible that you’re just having a bad day, but it’s just too big of a risk to take.
2. You Asked Me Obscure Questions Just for the Sake of Doing It
Yes, I know why manholes are round; what I don’t know is why you are asking me this question. Is it because Google asks it? Is it because you want to see if I can think on my feet? Or is it some other reason that neither you nor I am aware of? Rather than waste our time with such a silly and off-putting question, ask me a situational question that’s relevant to my prospective job.
3. You Talk Too Much
I’m delighted that you’re enjoying our time together, really, I am. But I’m a bit worried that I haven’t been able to get a word in edgewise. You see, if I haven’t done any of the talking, then you can’t possibly know if I’ll be a good fit for this position. That makes me nervous. How can I believe in my own ability to excel at this position if you haven’t properly assessed my abilities and fit?
4. You Talk Too Little
Let’s look at the opposite side of the point above. If you don’t tell me enough about the job, the company, and so on, then I cannot, in good faith, agree to devote years of my life to you. When I ask you questions about why the position is vacant, what a typical day is like, and what the goals of the company are, I expect solid, well-thought-out answers. It’s these answers that will help me determine whether our values and goals align.
5. You Don’t Tell Me About Your Company Culture
If I’m going to be spending more time with you than with my friends and family, I want to know I’m going to be in a fun and positive working environment. You don’t have to provide organic lunches or have a company bar to show me you’re a great company to be at. While these perks would be nice, I’d much rather know about the people and the culture. How do employees interact with each other? How are employees recognized for a job well done? Do colleagues go to lunch together or see each other outside of the office? If so, do they do this because it’s mandated or because they genuinely enjoy spending time together?
6. You’re Unprepared
I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy. I get it. People are spread too thin. But when I spend hours preparing for my interview and take time out of my day to attend said interview, I expect you to show me the same level of professionalism and respect that I show you. So please, don’t make me wait in the lobby for half an hour, don’t take five minutes to review my job application in front of me, and don’t make up the interview questions as you go along.
7. Your Interview Practices Are Illegal
So you want to know if and when I’m planning on getting married and you feel it necessary to let me know that you typically hire from a certain age group. The fact that you’re bringing these items up tells me one of two things: 1) you haven’t taken the time as a hiring manager to educate yourself on employment law, or 2) you’re discriminatory. The best case scenario here is that you don’t know how to do your job (and your company hasn’t bothered to train you how), and the worst is that the organization is sexist, ageist, or some other “ist” that I don’t care to be around.