Whether you are a new graduate or a career veteran, interviews are an aspect of work-life that never truly disappear. In a previous article, we’ve covered the red and green flags of a job posting and checklists for job searches, preparation, and interviews. If you are just now starting your job hunt, it may pay to start with those articles, but if you are at the interview stage, this article will help get you in the right mindset.
While there are many guides on the basics of interview dos and don’ts, our extensive experience in guiding candidates gives us additional insights that we’d like to pass on. There are the core things job-hunters will hear since day one – dress clean, bring additional resumes, and have questions prepared – but, beyond that, there are actions from both interviewers and interviewees that can, and likely will, lead to a denial of a job offer.
Interviewee Red Flags
No matter the experience on your resume, a interview is always the gateway to getting a job. You could be a leader in your field and still miss out on a job opportunity because an interview does not go well. Here are some of the lesser-known red flags to avoid to ensure that you can present your best self in an interview.
- Dressing Up: You always hear “dress for success” or vague, general guidelines for outfit coloring. While these aren’t inherently bad, they are still easily misinterpreted. The key for dressing for an interview is to dress one level above the daily dress code.
If the dress-code is a uniform for the position you want, business casual would be the next step up, but if the position you are looking for at the same company is managerial, a nice suit or an outfit of the same level would be required. If you wear a fancy suit to an entry level position, it will seem like you are out of touch with the reality of the job.
- Asking About Money: No one is questioning the importance of money. It is nice to think that the work we do is entirely because of our belief in a cause, but, no matter the strength of a belief, it is important to many that they can afford a roof over their heads at the end of the day. Companies are more than aware of this.
That being said, do not be surprised if money is not explicitly addressed during the interview. Interviewers want to know about you as a person and determine if you are qualified before they begin to promise funds, so many will not address finances until the tail end of an interview. Insistent pushing of the subject will let an interviewer know that you will always follow the money and will not want to risk hiring you just to lose you to a few dollars more down the road.
- Talking Badly About Previous Coworkers/Bosses: You might have a true vendetta against your previous coworkers or workplace, but your potential new boss does not need to know that. Sometimes, we leave a workplace because the people or the way it is run are not a good fit for us, but complaining about it with blaming language shows a lack of insight and accountability on your behalf.
- Asking Excessively Personal Questions: It is one thing to want to get to know your interviewer on a more personal level, but you need to know how to not overstep. Asking about personality-based habits or mindsets that make them successful at work is a great way to generate mindful conversation, but steer your questions away from the post-work/personal life of the interviewers as it will be considered off-putting and invasive.
Interviewer Red Flags
We put a lot of weight on interviewees to ace an interview, but it is your job as the interviewer to best represent your company. The hiring process can be a long journey and can get frustrating, but your job is to always put your best foot forward. Take time to put yourself in the right mindset before entering an interview with these tips.
- No Talk of the Future: When you know a candidate is not going to get the job, it can be hard to talk about the future or next steps. That being said, it is important to still address the future expectations with the candidate, even if it is not what they want to hear.
There are several methods for kindly and clearly addressing that a candidate did not get the position, including letting them know that you are pursuing other candidates, the qualifications of the other applicants, and, for strong applications, what they should do before applying again.
- Vague Answers to Valid Questions: Even if you are not proud of the real answer, do not resolve to giving a vague answer. Explain why the answer is what it is and what your company is planning to do to change it. In the same vein, if you do not have an answer for a valid question, admit to that. Candidates are more likely to appreciate that honesty and a promise to look into the answer than to later realize that you were lying.
- Be prepared: It is often pointed out that the interviewee needs to be prepared, but it is just as necessary that the interviewer is prepared as well. Interviewers need to take time to look into each candidate’s resume and prepare personal questions so candidates will feel acknowledged as an individual. The fastest way to tell a candidate you don’t care is to show them that the first time you are acknowledging their resume is during the interview itself.
Additionally, plan the interview day. If you are looking to have a candidate interact with multiple people during the interview process or visit multiple locations, make an effort to clear and confirm the time with those who will be involved. An unprepared interview process gives the sense of a chaotic and unorganized workspace.
- Rude, Competitive Behavior: Competitive behavior in general is not bad. If fact, especially in sales jobs, in can be a very effective motivator. It becomes a red flag when the competition becomes rude and toxic.
In an interview, candidates expect to get a look at the day-to-day life and culture of the workplace. If that view includes blaming language, talking down, or offensive explanations from the interviewing staff, it is sure to keep away anyone interested in a healthy workplace. Keep from complaining about or insulting previous employees or the interviewee’s predecessor.
If you want to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward, as either the interviewer or interviewee, reach out to us today and we’ll be sure to help! You can visit our job board and apply directly to an opportunity or submit a resume so we can connect you with a fitting recruiter!