Over the past few years, I’ve experienced my fair share of interviews: some good, some god awful. With that said, I’ve also come across quite a few interview red flags that I honestly wouldn’t have known had I not had a first-hand experience with them. 

To be fair, sometimes things happen in the course of the interview process that shouldn’t necessarily ring alarm bells. For instance, if you’re ever asked that annoying “what kind of animal would you be” question in an interview, that’s not a sign that you should run for the hills. It’s just a dumb question some interviewers like to ask when they are out of good questions, or just want to see candidates squirm in their seats. Also, if you ever do get that question, either answer eagle, horse, or dolphin even if it isn’t true.

Anywho, based on some of my most memorable job interview experiences, here are a few interview red flags I hope you will keep in mind on your current or next job search. Ok, let’s go…

1. They bypass the phone interview

If you apply for a job and are asked for an in-person interview right off the bat, that might be a big red flag. Normal interview protocol is to screen candidates over the phone first, then narrow down those candidates to 5 – 7 people for in-person interviews.

Not only is it a way for the company to efficiently narrow down their hundreds of applications to a select few, it also shows that the company respects your time as well. With no phone interview, it begs the question whether the company is really serious about finding the right candidate, or if they even care about wasting your time.

2. They want to interview you right away

I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing this. You apply for a job on Saturday, you get a call from the company on Monday, and they want to interview in-person on Tuesday. Whoa whoa whoa! What’s the frickin’ rush? Not only does it make the company look unorganized, but it also makes them look panicked, ill-prepared, and unprofessional.

Moreover, being rushed through the screening process will also prevent you from getting enough time to think things through. Interviewing is a two-way street remember. You want to make sure that as a candidate, the company is right for you just as much as you are right for the company. Nothing ever good comes out of feeling pressured to accept a job.

3. They don’t contact you for over a month

I’ve had this happen once. I applied for a job and then mentally moved on after two weeks of not hearing back. A month and a half later I get a call for an interview! I honestly had forgotten I applied for the job at the point.

Luckily, I was still looking for work at the time, but talk about slow! It’s not good to rush the process, but that’s just ridiculous. If they took that long just to call you for an interview, can you imagine how slow their other programs run? And no, this was no a government job.

4. Their initial email to you is less than professional

I once got an email asking me to interview for a position, but there were two major things wrong with the email. First off, there was a grammatical error. The word “interview” was missing. I actually had to reply back to verify that an interview was what they were requesting.

The second big error was that the email was sent “To:” everyone, instead of “Bcc:”. This meant I could see everyone else who got the same exact email as me. And there were at least 30 people on the list. Yeah, I thought about it for a day then respectfully declined.

My favourite part of course was when one of the candidates accidentally did a “Reply All” back asking for more information about the interview. Ugh, no thank you.

5. They have bad reviews on Glassdoor

This ties into the story above. One of the big reasons I declined to interview for that company was because I did a bit more research on the company (I know, my fault for not doing it beforehand), and found some absolutely horrendous reviews about them on Glassdoor.

And not just reviews about the company, but reviews on how they interview! Apparently this one particular company has a pattern of interviewing a ton of candidates, wasting lots of people’s time, then at the end of it, offering the chosen ones incredibly low pay.

6. The interview is more like an interrogation

One of the most bizarre interviews I’ve been on felt more like an interrogation. I remember leaving and feeling like I had either failed or did something really wrong. Honestly, I think it had more to do with the interviewer’s lack of experience, but I kid you not, it was only after 45 minutes of answering questions, talking about my experience, and doing a math pop quiz that I was able to ask a few questions of my own.

If the company is more concerned about drilling you than finding out if you would make a good fit with the company, then it’s probably not a good place to work for. That and the interviewer had the craziest facial expressions throughout the whole thing. I don’t know if I can properly describe it, but it looked like my answers were causing him pain. I should have know, they didn’t give me a phone interview.

What are some of your interview horror stories? Let me know in the comments!

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