No matter what stage of life you're in, it's likely you're going to face at least a few job interviews in your time. That's why it's so important to know the job interview red flags hiring managers and employers look for while assessing potential employees. Interviews can be tricky in that the expectations can vary a little based on your industry and the specific position you're applying for; in general, though, there seem to be consistent red flags that refelct poorly on applicants no matter your industry, age, or background.
A recent thread on AskReddit, asking users, "Employers: What are some red flags when it comes to a potential hire?" highlight some common themes that repeat across the board — some of which many of us probably already know: You should always research the job and company before the interview; you should always be polite and respectful; and you should always shake someone's hand and thank them for their time. It's also good to remember that when we're nervous or over-confident going into an interview, the more obvious things we should know already can slip our minds. Whether you're super nervous or super sure you're going to get a job offer, you should always prepare and go over the basics before stepping into your interview to show that you're taking the opportunity seriously and that you respect the time of those interviewing you.
It's also fair to point out that depending on your background, you may or may not have had the same interview preparation as the next person. And that's OK! Luckily, the internet can provide great resources for all of us. There are a ton of other great pointers and suggestions over at AskReddit in the discussion on common interview red flags, but here are 12 of my personal favorites below:
1. None Of Your References Are Available
You might list your references on your resume, or you might provide them to your potential new employer as a separate document after you've reached a certain stage in the application process; either way, though, make sure the contact information for your references are up to date — and also that the person knows you've listed them as a reference.
2. Your Parents Are Overly Involved
Whether you want your mom's support or not, ask her to wait for you at home. You can debrief her about the interview afterwards.
3. You Badmouth Past Employers
Sometimes past employers leave us with a really sour taste in our mouths. However, that's not appropriate to share during an interview, even if you think it's super relevant. Even if your last workplace was horrible for you, it's not something you should telling your future employer.
4. You Ignore The Importance Of Office Culture
Office culture is something you may not experience until you have an actual interview, and that's OK. But it's important to be able to pick up on cues of how offices seem to function, and try your best to reflect that culture back during your interview.
5. All Of Your Answers Challenge Authority
Pretty much everybody answers to a boss of some kind, and yes, you're not always going to agree with your manager. But when answers seem to consistently defy or challenge authority, it doesn't speak well to how you'll perform in the actual job; it suggests that you might be difficult to work with.
Sure, some of us are introverts, and some of us just aren't people-people — but in many work environments, you need to be able to "fake it until you make it" at least some of the time. While you don't necessarily need to be comfortable being the center of attention, you do need to be friendly and polite enough to work well with others.
7. Your Attire Is Not Interview Appropriate
Not all interviews require a suit or formal business attire, but it's usually best to present as professionally as you can. If you're struggling to develop a work-appropriate wardrobe because of finances or access, there are still options: Thrift stores can be full of great finds, and programs like Dress for Success can help you not only, well, dress for success, but also hone your skills, network, and a whole lot more.
8. You're Difficult About Scheduling Right From The Get-Go
While some jobs operate on a fixed schedule with set hours, others do vary depending on the week or month. Either way, it's important to be honest about your availability during the interview, but within reason. What your preferred schedule involves might not be what is constantly available, so it's important to be flexible when needed.
9. You're Sharing Too Much Personal Information
Potential employers may ask about how you've been lately, what you do in your free time, and how you unwind after work. While you should be honest, you should also be work-appropriate and keep private things private.
10. You're Late
Accidents happen and we're all late sometimes. But showing up late without warning or explanation sends a message that you don't care about the interview — and might make your potential employer wonder if it's a habit. If you're running late, at least call and give notice.
11. Nerves Get The Best Of You
It's totally normal to be nervous during a job interview. But it's good to make sure you tamp down on those signs that you may be nervous, such as gesturing too much with your hands, interrupting to answer before questions are asked, or talking too much and too long in response to questions.
12. Answering Your Cell Phone During An Interview
Seriously: Even if you have another job, family obligations, or are waiting to hear back on important news, put your phone on silent — or turn it off completely — during an interview. You want it to be clear that your interviewer has your full attention and checking your phone communicates the opposite.
Happy job hunting, everybody!