Just as the employer gathers information about an applicant during a job interview, the applicant themself gathers information about the employer. And some details just scream trouble.
Interested in finding out what people look out for, Reddit user pbourree submitted a question to r/AskReddit, "What are subtle red flags at a job interview that say 'Working here would suck?'" Everyone immediately started sharing their insights—in just a few days, the post has received over 22,000 comments. Below are some of the most popular ones.
I once showed up for an interview and the manager wasn't there that day. No one called me to let me know.
The assistant manager was not apologetic for the scheduling issue at all. She was literally just like "oh, she's not here today" in a tone that suggested I should somehow already know that. She said they would call me to reschedule some time the next week. I told her I was currently unavailable M-W but could come in any time Th-F. She said if I couldn't make time for the interview, I probably wouldn't be a good fit. I said okay, and went on to my other interviews and ending up working elsewhere.
You'd think that would be the end of it, but both the manager and the assistant manager badmouthed me to a few other people in the industry, including one of my friends.
Hello? I made time for an interview. You disrespected me by not calling me to let me know it was canceled. I gave you the times I was available to reschedule, and that was disrespectful somehow?
"The interview process is a two-way street," Amy Hoover, president of Talent Zoo, a site for marketing, advertising, and digital professionals, told Forbes. "Not only are you being evaluated, but you should be evaluating the company and its people. It's absolutely your duty as an interviewee to observe the culture of the company and its employees. If you're not offered a tour, be sure to request one so you can get a sense of the environment and its vibe. If possible, you should also request to meet some potential co-workers. It's as much your responsibility as the candidate to determine if you're a good fit for the company as it is your interviewer's, so don't be shy."
Once an interviewer straight up asked me if I had any trouble working for free on weekends... I told them my free time is more valuable than anything and that the only way that I would work a weekend is if they are paying me and if I felt like working a weekend. She got really mad at me and ended the interview right away.
Biggest red flag I’ve ever seen because they didn’t even try to hide it.
Dr. Katharine Brooks, executive director of the office of personal and career development at Wake Forest University and author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path from Chaos to Career, shares this sentiment. She acknowledges that it's hard to relax and remember to observe when you're stressed about an interview, but thinks that it's very important to make a plan to stop for a minute and assess the office or setting. "Just take thirty seconds to look around and see how formal the setting is," she said. "Do people have personal items on their desks? Is there informal and casual conversation in the hallways? Is the feeling relaxed or tense? Does everyone seem like they are on an urgent mission? These are easily made observations despite personal nervousness."
"Well, the overtime isn't mandatory, but most folks stick around after hours most days."
Spoilers: The overtime is mandatory.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when going to your next job interview: What does the parking lot look like? How was I greeted upon arrival? How do employees interact with one another? Do the employees look happy? How do employees answer the phone? What does their body language say? How committed is the employer is to health and wellness? Is it a fast-paced work environment? Is it an organized place? What is the physical office environment like? Is everyone busy?
If they’re always hiring. Constant staff turnover means people quit a lot, so it must be bad
When they tell you "what I'm paying you stays between you and me, don't discuss pay with anyone else" usually means they are trying to pay you less than your coworkers who do the same job and don't want you to know.
"We only want the best of the best" Me: "how much are you paying?" "Minimum wage"
I didn't know it at the time, but "you'll be wearing many hats" was a sign that they were going to give me the work of four positions and the wage of one. I didn't last a year there before I left and now I won't even finish reading job ads that include that line.
When you ask, “what do you like about working here” and the interviewer talks about the location of the job (“it’s a great place to live!”) instead of the actual job.
This actually happened to me:
Interviewer: Do you have any questions for us?
Me: what is a challenge this department has recently faced?
Interviewer: Job security
“We work hard and we play hard.”
Translation: “You will work 60+ hours a week. You will be expected to work late nights and early mornings. People will treat this job like their whole life. We’ll also underpay you. It may look like a decent salary but when you back it out to hourly it’s not even remotely competitive with industry standard. But we have kegs and a ping pong table.”
Also, if everyone that interviews you has been there less than two years, it’s a sign that they can’t retain good employees.
"We don't like 'clockwatchers' here. We expect everyone to be committed." Expecting more work for no extra pay. Getting mad at you when you leave at 5 even though your stated work hours end a 5
Always ask the interviewer about the last person who worked the position you are interviewing for, how long they worked, and why they left. Their answers can be very telling of the work environment.
When you are signing all the forms they give you and you are taking your time to read over every document so that you can fully understand what you are getting into and people come in and start telling you that you don't need to read this and that just sign here and so on.
"You are required to wear clothing that has the company logo. You must purchase it yourself. From the company."
Last job I worked.
"Yea, everyone here is new, but it's totally because of covid"
"The boss doesn't like people going out to get lunch because they're afraid you'll never come back, so being your own lunch"
"You'll get weird looks if you leave on time". It was a chinese owned company with heavy chinese work culture influence so you were expected to stay overtime all week.
Also "the people here are nice but it's pretty stressful".
Eta: also was told by my trainer "you want to know the best advice I can give you? Find another job". This was like...my 2nd week in.
I was once part of a group onboarding for an IT job. They handed us all the one-page new hire "contract" and everyone except me signed immediately. When I read the paperwork, I discovered we were signing a mystery document. Clauses included "I agree to abide by the personal search and seizure security policy (attached)." Without other pages, there was no way to determine what I was agreeing to. I kept requesting more and more pages until the HR drone said "ok, I guess [me] is just determined to hold everyone up. We will handle you separately if you're struggling so much."
After I walked out and drove home, I called the hiring manager to apologize for not taking the job. He informed me that HR reported I had walked out after refusing to be drug tested
"You not going to have kids anytime soon, are you?".
"What are your childcare arrangements?".
Are both things my wife has been on the recieving end of. You'd assume you wouldn't apply if it was an issue, right? Funnily enough, I'm a man and I've never been asked.
I once turned down a job offer because they mentioned that the previous person in the position had quit after a few months, and most of the people I interviewed with seemed stressed out.
My favorite is 'there's alot of people waiting in line to work here, count yourself lucky. Huge red flag
Had an online interview with a company a few years ago.
Was interviewed by the regional manager, seemed like a normal interview.
Halfway through, he let slip that there were six other people from his company watching and listening in, but the software was set up so I could not see or hear them.
And he actually got a kick out of telling me this.
It was like being on a first date with someone, and finding out later she had a hidden camera on her and her parents and six other family members were watching the whole time.
I'm like, yeah. No. F**k that noise.
I came in for a job interview at 7:30 PM. The entire staff was still in the office. Should have known right then that 9 to 5 was not ever going to happen. One day I worked until 2:30 AM to finish up a big project, and my boss said to me I could come in an hour later the next morning. Gee thanks bro, with my public transport/travel time that gives me a solid 2 hours of sleep instead of just the one.
I always ask about training and learning curves. Every job I’ve had that went wrong- I notice that when that question came up they stumbled. The current job I have, when I asked the question they had sparks in their eyes as they explained the whole process from day 1 of shadowing to the transition to working solo. And even when covid hit they managed to continue without skipping a beat.
You'll get full-time hours but wont be "full time" aka we'll do everything in our power to avoid giving you benefits even though we have you working more than 40 hours in a week.
"We're a family" is code for working long hours, lots of overtime and they don't care about their employees.
I was once told “Sometimes the hourly workers go on strike and they lock us in to keep the production line running, but management brings us steaks and we have an informal agreement with the unions so you can cross the picket lines once a week to visit your wife.”
When they get the interview time wrong and then gaslight you about it. I’ve had a couple interviews where that happened and the person told me it was me who made the mistake. I did not feel bad missing the opportunity.
The one question every job applicant must ask is: "Why is this position open?", and watch the faces of everyone in the room before they answer. If they tell you the company's growing and it's a new position, great! If smiling Mary says it was her job but she was just promoted, terrific! If they tell you that the last couple of people they tried in the position just didn't work out, thank them and leave.
Lots of people standing at colleagues desks chatting. Either you'll be expected to be present at all times without a sufficient workload, or you'll be picking up the slack for co-workers.
Also, I've had lots of interviews where they told me they didn't expect me to have a 9-to-5 mentality; I tend to throw back a "sure, if the work is done by 3, I'd be okay with leaving early" and consider anybody who seriously objects to that not worth working for.
"We're looking for rockstars."
"We're looking for people who will tolerate our sh***y pay, hours, and treatment of employees."