Here are 5 major red flags you should watch out for when interviewing for a new job.

Congratulations! You applied to hundreds of Indeed postings, expertly leveraged your network, and pitched the perfect cover letter to land a string of interviews for your first post-grad job. You buy a suit and invest in some slightly uncomfortable shoes and you’re well on your way to jump starting your long and hopefully lucrative career.

In today’s tight market, however, too many people are met with unprofessional interviews and hiring practices, especially when interviewing for their first or second job out of college. It can be difficult to know what qualifies a company as a good place to work, or one that you, in particular, want to work for when you’re just so excited to be interviewing somewhere in the first place.

Understandably, you won’t know everything about a company until you actually work there, but interviews, (along with LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and your professional network,) offer significant insight into how it will actually be on a day-to-day basis.

Take a look at five top red flags that you should keep an eye open for as you embark on your job hunt.


1. The Interview Process is Unreasonably Short (or Long)

The average time it takes for a company to fill an open position is approximately 50 days. This is a very general average and doesn’t take into consideration that some positions, such as a Sr. Director or newly developed position, can take companies a long time to pull the trigger on a new hire.

If your interview process feels unreasonably short, it is entirely within your right to ask some more questions and draw it out. Interviews are an opportunity for both sides of the table to present what they have to offer. You are given the opportunity to share your skills, experience, and value, and the employer is given the opportunity to share how your role will play an important part on their team.

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On the flip side, if your interview process feels insanely long and you have been asked to come back for a second, third, or fourth round interview with weeks in between, it may be time to question if the company really needs someone in this position. Employers know qualified candidates when they see them. If they aren’t pulling the trigger on you or anyone else after multiple rounds of interviews they may not know what they are looking for in a candidate in the first place.

2. The Hiring Manager Mentions a Group

When you apply for your first job you may be interested in rotational programs or internships that advertise training in a cohort. These can be incredibly valuable programs and a great way to jumpstart your career. However, many companies hire candidates in groups and push them through six, nine, or twelve-week training programs once being brought on.

In particular, companies searching for entry-level sales or business development representatives tend to hire in groups and “weed out” their hires through the duration of an initial training program. The catch? These companies rarely advertise this. Base pay for positions like this can be very low and candidates are wooed by promises of big commission checks.

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Pro tip: Companies looking to make strong hires don’t hire people with a plan to let anyone who doesn’t “cut it” go just a few weeks after.

3. They Don’t Know What the Job Is

Job descriptions are pretty purposefully vague. Especially for a lot of entry-level jobs that require some flexibility in responsibilities, a job description can either be a hiring manager’s wish list or a list of things a candidate might be doing on any given day.

In an interview, I always recommend asking what a day in the life looks like in this role. Any hiring manager worth their salt will know that their job description may have left something to the imagination and will be able to clearly outline the expected roles and responsibilities of their new hire.

If your interviewer hums and haws and isn’t really able to give you a clear answer about what they are looking for in this new addition to their team, they might not be so sure about what it is they’re looking for.

4. Your Interview Is Poorly Planned

As a recruiter, I spend a large chunk of my day coordinating interviews with hiring managers and members of a company’s HR team. It is my job to make sure that my candidates know exactly when to arrive, who to ask for when they arrive, and exactly what they need to come prepared with.

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An interview is a two-way street and companies owe it to candidates to prepare them for the experience as best as possible. If nobody knows who you are speaking with next, somebody forgot to book a conference room, or your potential future hiring manager forgot you were coming in to interview at all, I would consider all of those major red flags.

5. Your Interviewer Is Late

Look. I know it happens. Meetings run long and projects pile up, but being late to an interview is rude – whether you are the interviewer or interviewee.

If your interviewer is late and especially unapologetic, it may be an indication of their level of respect for this position, you as a candidate, or employees in general. Hiring a new member of a team is a big commitment, and companies should be willing to show the same respect to the candidate that they expect candidates to show them.

Share with me! What interview red flags have you encountered in your job search?


By Holly Howson-Watt

Holly Howson-Watt
Holly is a recent San Diego State University graduate and a current talent acquisition specialist. By day, she is obsessed with exceptional organizational culture, passionate about talent development, and always reading a book. By night, she is on a mission to educate, encourage, and empower young professionals starting out in their careers.