- Several experts told Insider what red flags indicate a company may not be a good place to work.
- If they ask you to take a test early in the process, they may be trying to get you work for free.
- If they don’t allow you to meet with team members, they may be hiding low morale or high turnover.
When interviewing for a new job, especially if it’s at a company you’ve admired for a long time, it’s easy to overlook a few bumps in the road in favor of getting an offer. But employers should try to woo you as much as you should woo them. And if a hiring manager exhibits certain bad behaviors during the recruiting process, chances are he’ll find himself working for a bad boss or under a terrible company culture if he accepts the position.
No matter how attractive a job sounds on paper, if you come across these six red flags during an interview at a company, it might be better to pass them on for a better opportunity.
1. They are not reliable in their communication or schedule
Lars Schmidt, the founder of the Amplify Academy, a community for HR leaders, told Insider that it’s a red flag if a hiring manager or HR team seems to fire or reject you, or worse, sets an expectation. around the timeline of the recruitment process. , then completely blows it up and institutes a new timeline with no explanation. If they do that to someone they’re trying to recruit, think about how uncertain the employee experience could be, with ever-changing schedules and inconsistent communication.
Another not so good sign? Radio silence from a recruiter you’ve been in contact with before.
Dani Monaghan, Google’s vice president of global cloud recruiting, said the best way to determine if miscommunication or confusing instructions is a one-time fluke or a sign of a larger problem is to ask yourself questions like:
- Are they constantly rescheduling interviews?
- Do recruiters or hiring managers rarely show up on time?
- How receptive are they to emails and how quickly do they usually respond to you?
- Is the interview well organized or did your interviewer not show up prepared?
- Do they provide updates when they say they will?
2. You are asked to complete a test or project early in the process
In some industries, it’s normal for employers to require applicants to complete steps beyond an interview, such as completing a coding test, creating a slide deck, or writing something according to job specifications. This can be a valid way to assess a candidate’s skills, but if an employer asks for it early in the hiring process, it could also indicate that the company doesn’t respect your time or could be using this step to charge for free work.
Skills tests or assignments should be done later, after you’ve completed at least one interview and had a good idea of whether the company is interested in you and would be a good fit, Schmidt said.
3. The job description is vague
Even for a new position, the hiring manager must have a clear idea of what is involved. Otherwise, the company could be setting you up to fail.
“If the description says, ‘You’ll be wearing a lot of hats,’ make sure you know what those hats are and whether you think they will support your goals,” Monaghan said. “If interview questions are ambiguous, applicants should always clarify.”
4. They are being cautious or defensive around compensation
The last thing any job seeker wants is to interview multiple times for a job without knowing if the salary meets their expectations. Fortunately, several states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, and Washington, now require salary transparency, either on the job listing or when requested by a candidate.
Even if you’re not in one of those states, the market is trending toward salary transparency. Janine Yancey, chief executive of Emtrain, a technology platform that uses data and analytics to identify toxic workplace issues, told Insider that it’s reasonable to ask the pay band for a role early in the process. If they don’t have the paid band yet, they should at least say, “That’s a good question, let me answer it for you,” she said. That question should not provoke a negative reaction.
5. They are being evasive about negative events.
If you’ve done your homework before an interview, you’ll know if a company has negative Glassdoor reviews or has recently faced bad press, and you’ll probably want to know more about it before you make the decision to take the job. “If you ask questions about maybe negative press or even Glassdoor and that gets ignored and dismissed, that can be a red flag,” Schmidt said.
On the other hand, if they acknowledge it and explain how they’re working to improve company culture or recover from a scandal, that could be a more positive sign of growth.
6. You can’t access others team members
Don’t just talk to your potential supervisor: Talking to as many current employees as possible, including people you’ll manage or peers you’ll work with on a regular basis, can help you get a feel for the company culture. “If a company doesn’t accommodate, that’s also a red flag,” Monaghan said. By ignoring such a request, a hiring manager may be trying to cover up high turnover or low team morale.
“If an applicant talks to multiple people who seem unhappy, apathetic, disgruntled, then it could be indicative of a negative work environment,” Monaghan added.
While everyone has days when they are off the hook or say the wrong thing, looking at the sum of the interactions can give you an idea of a company’s culture. “If they don’t have really talented people running the organization, I think that’s also an indicator of what you can expect in your people team and your HR team,” Yancey said.