5 Red Flags When Interviewing for a Job

Explore these red flags during the interviewing process to determine if you will enter a healthy environment. 

by Jill Blumenfeld • More.com Member { View Profile }
Jill Blumenfeld is a strategic communications advisor and freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. Visit www.jillblumenfeld.com for more information.
Photograph: iStock

Many experienced job candidates ignore red flags during the interviewing process. Eager to rejoin the ranks of the employed, following job losses when the economy tanked, you may convince yourself that no job is perfect. You conclude that striking the right balance of compromise between your wish list and any reasonable offer is what you should do. You tell yourself that you know you can handle any business challenge that may arise. Your track record speaks to your accomplishments — and that’s why the company wants to hire you. You need a regular paycheck, and as the interviews proceed, you blind yourself to certain red flags that you know you should explore further. Here are five you should not ignore:

1. Does the interviewing process seem overly complex? 

A company’s inability to move swiftly through the interviewing and decision-making process could indicate several cultural aspects that may hinder your ability to succeed once you are hired.  You need to find out what is behind the complexity. Do stakeholders in your role have different priorities and if so, who will be setting yours? Are so many people involved in making decisions that you may not be empowered to move at the pace you are accustomed to when executing your responsibilities?  

2. Do you honestly know why the role is available?

If others did not succeed in the role previously, and you are being brought in because you have the “right” experience, do not assume that the basic foundation for success in the role exists. Understand the real challenges your predecessors faced —was it their skills, lack of support needed or a difference of priorities held by decision-makers inside the company? Dig into the level of support that you will have, and the quality of the technology, infrastructure and people who will impact your ability to succeed. Find out to what extent you will be able to shape the priorities and the work you are expected to deliver. Make sure the answers are a match for your level of experience and working style.

3. Is the department or division always hiring?

Similar to a house that has been on the market for a long time, if job openings are a regular occurrence for the department you will be joining, consider the possibility that its structure may be seriously flawed. Excessive dysfunction or ineffective leadership could be the culprit making your day-to-day environment extremely challenging and stressful. Make sure you understand clearly why positions like the one you are being considered for are frequently available. If you will not be in a position to restructure the aspects necessary for success in the role make sure the constraints of the role are manageable for you.  

4. Is the department respected by other parts of the organization?

Ask about other functions within the organization that are fundamental for you to work closely with to succeed.  For example, if you are seeking a sales role, find out what the relationship is with the Marketing Department. Reporting lines will not matter as much as the integrated approach and the alignment of priorities, for example across sales, marketing, communications and IT. Make sure you meet some of the colleagues from those functions ahead of time and find out how seamlessly colleagues work together across functions. If those people are not made accessible to you during the interviewing process, this red flag indicates that you should learn more about interactions with other teams. Make sure you understand the level of access and cooperation you will have with colleagues who provide these capabilities so you can deliver the quality of work you are accustomed to producing.

5.Can anyone tell you what success in the role looks like

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