It happens all the time – you’ve gone months without a phone call and then, suddenly, the phone finally rings. The voice on the other end introduces themselves and wants to set up an interview with you. So what do you do now? As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, you prepare for the interview. You anticipate questions and practice your responses, but what we didn’t talk about was that the interview isn’t just about their impression of you – it’s about your impression of them as well.

Many people fall victim to having blinders on during an interview. They want the chance to get the job so badly that they fail to prepare questions for the interviewer or take the time understand what red flags they should be on the lookout for. A “red flag” is anything that would make you question the environment you could be entering. So, here are a few things to look for during your interview:

  1. Is the interviewer significantly late? We all know things happen at work. A meeting with the CEO can run a couple of minutes over. It happens. But if you’re waiting for 15 minutes past your appointment time, that’s just bad planning on their part. The interviewer should respect your time as much as you do theirs. They should build in a few minutes prior to the interview to have time to prepare.
  2. Did they review your resume prior to the interview, or are they seeing it for the first time? If they haven’t reviewed it, this shows lack of preparation on their part. The interview should be conducted as if this is the “best day” at their company. If they haven’t made specific comments regarding your experience outlined in your resume or prepared questions to the same, this could be a sign of things to come. If this is their best day, what does a normal day look like once you’ve signed on the dotted line?
  3. Is the interviewer overselling the position? If they are working really hard to sell you on the position, be careful. This could be a sign that it’s a “high turnover” position – people get hired and leave too often. This is where you could have a question ready to go such as, “How long was the previous person in this position?” This may not be the case, but they should be spending their time asking you about yourself while you ask the questions about the position. Not the other way around. If it reeks of desperation? Red Flag!
  4. Is the interview conducted in an area without disturbance? Is your interview being interrupted? This is a big deal for many companies, and unfortunately not that uncommon. Again, if this is the company on their best day, they should ensure the interview goes start to finish without distractions. If you’re in a room with the ability for those outside to see there’s a meeting in the office, do they walk in? Or, do they respect the meeting and wait until it is over? If the interviewer has these sorts of walk-ins on a normal day, they should put up a Do Not Disturb sign or inform the staff to not disrupt the meeting. These interruptions can mess up the flow of the interview or break your train of thought during your response to a question. It’s incumbent upon the interviewer to set that expectation of privacy.
  5. If the interviewer doesn’t offer, ask for a tour of the facility. You need to imagine yourself in the environment. Your impression of the workforce’s morale is a huge indicator of what you’re getting into. This impression starts when you first walk into the facility. Did you meet a receptionist? Were they professional? As you walk around take notice. Do the employees look happy, or not? Is the place a total mess? Or, is it neat and organized? You should have a sense that you’re walking into a professional environment where the employees are treated well and enjoy their jobs. If you get the feeling this isn’t happening, you may want to consider walking away. Trust your gut on this one!

It’s a great feeling when the phone rings and they ask you to come in for an interview. Please make sure you look out for red flags along the way. The ones we’ve pointed out here are not all-encompassing, but they should help you actively plan your observations during your interview.

Good luck!