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Red and Green Flags To Watch for in a Job Interview

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Sarah Lorenz-Coryell

October 17, 2023

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Green and Red Flags in an Interview

Few things are as rewarding and stressful at the same time as a job interview. Feeling good about the interview at the end is a very rewarding and empowering experience. However, finishing an interview and feeling confused or conflicted can be frustrating. 

Preparing for your interview and knowing what to look for ahead of time can help you get the most out of your interview.

Make the Time To Prepare for Your Interview

You will be doing yourself a favor by taking some time to prepare. Set aside time to read up on interview tips, review your resume, and go over the highlights of your work and educational qualifications. 

Presenting yourself in the best possible light will help to ensure you leave a positive impression. Likewise, knowing what to look for in the interview itself can help you make an informed choice about a job opportunity. 

Warning signs can alert you to possible issues within the company or concerns about the job specifically. Good marks and signs can also help you know when you have found the job that is right for you.

Interview Green Flags To Look For

Here are some ways to tell if a job is promising or if the interview is going well.

Engaged and Respectful Interviewers 

From the moment the interview begins, you can get a feel for how things will be by the way the interviewers act. 

Making an effort to leave a good first impression is important of course, but you should also pay attention to how you feel when you first meet the people you may be working with. Do they seem present or distracted? If the interview starts on time, it says a lot about the employer’s respect for your time.

Opportunities for Growth and Development

Consider what options there are for growth in the company as you talk through the interview. Are they just filling a spot or do they invest in their employees and offer chances to advance and grow within the company?

Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Be prepared for the interview by doing some research on current salary, pay rates, benefits, and such for the industry you are looking at. You can either ask about the salary range, or you may be asked to provide a range. If the salary range and compensation package seem to be fair and on target, it can be a very telling indication of the outlook of the company as a whole.

Structured Interview and Fair Consideration

You might be surprised by this, but an interview that is structured where the interviewer is clearly going through a list of questions is a good thing. It shows that all candidates are being compared equally and on the same ground with the same questions and feedback opportunities.

Openness to Questions

A good interviewer will give you an opportunity to ask questions. Consider how responsive and receptive they are to your thoughts and questions. Listen to their responses and consider the way they react and if they seem thrilled to talk with you or if they seem bored or even aggravated about your queries.

Well-Defined Onboarding Process

A major pitfall of the hiring process within many companies these days is poor onboarding. Just tossing a new employee into the mix never works. Consider it a positive if the interviewer talks about the onboarding process and what you can expect in the first days and weeks of your time at the company.

Interview Red Flags To Look For

Here are some red flags that indicate the job might not present the career opportunity you hoped for.

Vague Job Description and Expectations 

Some jobs, by nature, might be a bit general and not give a lot of details in the job listing. However, the interview should be when details and expectations are clearly presented and outlined. If this does not happen, consider it a red flag to take note of and remember later on when you make your decision. 

Inconsistent or Evasive Answers

Interviewers should be willing to talk and discuss specifics about the job freely with anyone interested in the position, If they dodge questions, give small yes-no answers, or refuse to answer legitimate questions, you may want to steer clear of the job offer.

Pressure to Accept Quickly

Some companies have many candidates to go through or may have several positions they need to hire. However, it is good to be given time to consider the offer and your options without undue pressure or threats of losing the job if a quick decision is not made. If this is the case, it’s a major red flag.

Interviewer Asks Illegal Questions

Red flags most commonly seen during a job interview usually fall under the illegal questions category. An interviewer is generally not allowed to ask about age, race, religion, sexual preferences, disabilities, marriage and family status and other questions not related to the job or the duties related to the job.

Limited Growth Opportunities

Some companies are concerned with just filling gaps and putting people in chairs so to speak. If there doesn't seem to be a chance to grow and challenge yourself in the job it might be something to consider. Unless you are content to stay in the same position for the long term, another job opportunity might be better for you.

Unrealistic Expectations

As you listen to the details of the job you are interviewing for, pay attention to the duties and responsibilities. Are they fair and in line with industry standards and norms? Does it sound like it’s multiple jobs rolled into a single role? If not you may want to consider that a red flag to come back to as you make a final choice.

What To Do When It Comes Time To Make a Decision

Ultimately, your decision will come down to several factors — the interview itself, your thoughts and feelings during and after the interview, and what you think your potential success would be if you get the job. 

Be sure to consider important personal factors such as pay rate, hours, location, skills, and responsibilities, work environment, growth potential, industry stability, and any other points that matter to you. 

These interview red flags and green flags can help you come to a decision that is right for you.


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Sarah Lorenz-Coryell

Sarah Lorenz-Coryell is a full-time writer and editor with over 15 years of experience. With multiple degrees and diverse areas of expertise, Sarah writes content that is informative, memorable, and impactful.

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