Our finances are determined by our income, which makes our job or business a vital aspect of our lives. This makes job interviews critical for both employees and employers. Here are some tips for identifying red flags.

The importance of job interviews for employees and employers

Job interviews aren’t a one-sided affair – they’re a two-way street. Each is interviewing the other. An employee doesn’t want just any job, they want the right job. A business wants the right employee. For employees, their long-term success is about hooking up with the right company. For businesses, their long-term success relies on assembling the right team.

This all comes together in the job interview and knowing what to ask and what to listen for are crucial skills in achieving the optimum outcome.

Red flags to watch for in job interviews

The following tips are beneficial to both prospective employees and prospective employers. Employees will note which things to look out for, while employers will note what not to do.

1. Repeated rescheduling and/or disorganization

While people are busy and things can come up unexpectedly, if your interview has been rescheduled twice and they request a third rescheduling, it’s a major red flag and a sign to look somewhere else. Your time is just as valuable as theirs. Further, a reschedule should happen as soon as possible. If they are delaying your interview by say a week, that’s also a red flag. The delays could be a sign they were too disorganized to be ready to conduct interviews, and such disorganization could be prevalent throughout the organization.

2. Multiple or drawn-out interviews

Another red flag could be a drawn-out interview process and/or an excessive number of interviews. Naturally, these could have legit reasons based on the level of the position (i.e. a senior position), but 10 or more could be excessive. Some organizations make people go through up to 14. Such exorbitant procedures are signs of bloated bureaucracy and bring into question the overall ability of the organization to get things done.

3. A conflict in values

Employees should know their most important values going in and be prepared to ask questions about the company’s culture. Likewise, the company should be prepared to answer such questions honestly.

One shift in younger generations in the job market is the consideration of a company’s values. Simply put, some people do not want to work for an organization that has values that conflict with those they hold deeply.

For companies, it may be worthwhile to read feedback on various job sites to see what people are looking for in company culture. Developing the kind of culture the best talent is seeking could help you field the best team.

4. Inter-organizational attitudes

Frustrations and tensions between different departments are common in every organization. However, this is an area to pay attention to. If possible, ask questions and discuss these challenges between different departments in a constructive way. Pay attention to the response. There’s a lot to be read from body language. What can you read about the tensions? Is it disrespectful in any way? These could be signs of an uncomfortable working relationship or workplace. Are there any domineering or intimidating attitudes?

5. Not making a connection

Chemistry in business is just as important as it is in personal relationships. If the lack of connection is apparent during the interview, and the engagement doesn’t seem to be there – this should be assigned to both parties that this may not be a good fit. Sometimes, the company already has someone lined up for the position and they are just going through the motions because they had an obligation for the interview. Sometimes companies will interview additional people just to confirm to themselves they’ve already made the right choice.

6. Bait and switch

Harvard Business Review warns about a tactic that can happen during job interviews, one in which the job offered during the interview sounds very different than the job description used to recruit talent.

While there can be things that happen that force such a change, such things can also be a sign of poor communication within the organization.

For example, the common response to the change might be something like: “Yes, we said this in our job description, but over the past 30 days, our needs have changed…so we really need the person to focus in this area instead of that area.”

This could be legit, in which case you have to reassess the role, or it could be a sign that the company itself isn’t clear on what they’re looking for and a pattern that could run throughout the organization.