Job interview red flags –– when to say no to a role


We’ve all been there, at the end of a working relationship, trying to figure out where it all went wrong.


Often, the warning signs can be traced back to as early as the interview stage. Being more observant at the beginning of a working relationship can save you from all the heartache of a bad boss. That’s right, being able to sniff out subtle signals could help you avoid working unpaid overtime, putting up with discriminatory behaviour and cooping up with a bunch of colleagues that are stuck in a cycle of toxic company culture.


So, how can you spot red flags as soon as they appear? We’ve taken some examples from a popular Reddit feed that all say “working here would suck.”


1. “Overtime isn’t mandatory, but most people stick around after hours”


This is code for overtime feels like an obligation. Plus, if you don’t do it, you’ll look worse than the rest of the team. Unless you want your work hours to be ever-expanding, don’t fall for this trick.


2. “We’re like a family”


While you might initially perceive this as a sweet sentiment, this can be a classic signal of manipulative management.


You’ll likely work long hours, lots of overtime and experience a lack of boundaries. The result? You’ll spend less time with your actual family while you try to please your professional one.


3. “Can you bring clients with you?”


Interview sessions should focus on your skills, experience and education –– not your ability to bring in new business. Remember, a reputable firm will never fixate on the idea of using employees to swoop in on the competition.


4. “We expect everyone to show up early so the day can be productive”


This statement spells trouble it two ways; it shows the recruiter doesn’t respect your time and hints at how inefficient the company might be. Being productive is about making the best use of your allocated time –– not simply extending the hours that you work.


5. “Everyone here is new, but it’s because of Covid”


Something tells us this statement’s not true. High labour turnover –– and making conscious excuses for it –– is never a good sign. Ask yourself, why are all their established staff leaving?


6. “You’ll be wearing many hats”


You can translate this to: “You’ll be doing many jobs, but only getting paid for one of them.” This expression is a firm favourite with low-wage employers that want to make a role sound exciting, rather than exhausting.


7. “We work hard, but also play hard”


Most of the time, the latter isn’t true. Work may equate to long, unrewarding hours, while the play might mean there is an underused pool table in the centre of the office.


8. “We don’t like clockwatchers, we want everyone to be committed”


Sound like a reasonable requirement? Talk of time can often imply that employers expect commitment outside of work hours. While you may want to stop your wandering eyes from constantly watching the clock, it’s also not a bad thing to pack up at the official end of the workday.


9. “We’re looking for rockstars/ninjas/gurus!”


If an employer is looking for anything other than an average human, they’ll likely be disappointed by their unrealistic expectations.


Don’t be fooled by labels that can make you feel like you’re part of a special club. All that might bind you with the rest of the team is low pay and sabotaged self-esteem.


10. “What are your childcare arrangements?”


This is a clear sign that your employer will view your children as an obstacle in your career. Try to avoid unethical queries about childcare and focus on firms that promote fair, family values.

Fed up of dealing with unethical employers? Use an expert recruiter to find interview opportunities that are free from red flags. Register online with Lupa Recruitment to find permanent positions and short-term work. We vet every firm we work with and act as an independent advisor throughout the entire employment process.