Job Seeker 101: Red Flags to Look Out For

By: TSP Blog | @TSProckstars


You often hear how to behave and what mistakes to avoid in an interview. However, the interview process is truly a two-way street. Just as your potential employer should be deciding if you are the right fit, you also should be deciding if they are the right fit for you.

Truth is, we can be so focused on acing a job interview that we forget to pay attention to what is happening around us. If you take the time to notice your surroundings and examine your communication with a potential employer, you may see some things you don’t necessarily like about the company or its employees. As you walk-in, call-in, or skype-in to a job interview, be on the lookout for these major red flags.

First impressions are everything. How does the interviewer greet you? Are they on time? Do they make direct eye contact? Just as you should master your greeting, handshake and body language, so should they. Also, pay attention to how your interviewer is acting throughout the conversation. If they seem distracted – checking their watch or even checking their emails – this could be a sign they lack professionalism in the workplace.

Most importantly, the interviewer should be prepared. While it is common to be asked about yourself and past experiences, you should be able to tell if they’ve even spent time reviewing your resume. The interviewer should be taking this seriously, as finding a candidate is not only a time-consuming process, but also an expensive one.

Company culture is more important than ever. Companies with a strong culture should want to make it known as this is a major selling point for potential candidates. Before walking into an interview, check the company website and social media platforms for information regarding culture. If you don't see anything, we suggest bringing up what their culture is like during the interview.

Even jobs at larger “old school” companies should have some sense of culture. While they may not have planned happy hours or a relaxed vacation policy, they should have a sense of meaning and happiness for their team. Look around when you walk into the office – do the employees seem to be friendly with one another or have smiles on their faces? Just because they may not have the perks of a small company with a big focus on culture, they should have happy and motivated employees.

When you accept a job, it is essential you know what you are walking into. If the interview focuses too much on you as an applicant – and seems to avoid important details about the job itself – this can be a massive red flag. Role ambiguity can greatly affect job satisfaction, so try and clear up any uncertainty prior to your first day.

Certain careers and smaller agencies will ask you to step outside the traditional job description, but the good ones will let you know this in the interview. If they are too ambiguous, this could be a sign that they do not know exactly what you will be doing and will expect more of you (and not in a good way). Ask what the day-to-day looks like in this role or what your regular duties will be in the position. If they seem to stumble through the answer, you may want to think twice about if the role is the best fit for you.

As a job seeker, keep in mind what you want for your career. Landing this job (or any job at all) can be a long process that often causes tunnel-vision. By being consciously aware of your surroundings, you can better equip yourself to spot red flags and avoid a potentially miserable job.