There are a lot of articles covering things you should or should not do during a job interview. You should dress nice, answer questions confidently and have the right body language. You should not fidget with your pen, ask about vacation or compensation policy or even sit without being offered a chair.
Some are obviously more valid than others, you can’t expect to make a good impression if you show up unshowered, put your feet on the interviewer’s desk while lighting up a cigarette. But what about your interviewer? What are the signs that indicate that perhaps this isn’t a very healthy company? Jobs are a two-way street; you want to contribute to a good company culture, but it might not always be there to begin with.
Your interviewer behaves insecure and dismissive
The role of the person who interviews you can vary greatly. It could be that the most relevant people are unavailable or there’s an HR person who takes care of it all. It’s likely that this person could be a part of the team you’ll be joining. In rare cases, the person interviewing you might perceive you as a threat and act unprofessionally as a result. This can hint at a very unpleasant work environment and should be considered a warning sign.
Your interviewer seems hostile or disinterested towards the company
It’s a no-brainer. If your interviewer shows even the slightest hostility towards the company, there’s a chance there’s a reason for it. You can find out the hard way and wait for the cause to emerge or you can ask the interviewer why he or she has a less than positive opinion about his or her workplace. It won’t hurt to show that you picked up on something being wrong. It could just be that she or he is having a bad day, or it could be a giant red flag.
Your interviewer hints at fear and stress as work incentives
“We run a tight ship here.” There’s nothing wrong with being performance focused, but be wary of joining a company with extreme expectations, penalties as work incentives and a high turnover rate. This is not to say you shouldn’t put in that little bit of extra work, but when motivational techniques are all stick and no carrot… reconsider whether this company is a good fit for you. If possible, find out what you can from former employees.
Your interviewer seems desperate and vague
Say the interview is going well, you did a good job of making a first impression. At this point you might want to ask a few questions about the company and its strategy for the future. To your surprise, the interviewer starts dodging the questions and/or becomes very vague in his or her answers. Not a deal-breaker, but definitely push for more clarity. Be skeptical of companies that seem a little too eager to hire you on the spot.
Your interviewer is unable to properly explain the role and responsibilities
“We’re looking for a motivated, independent go-getter who’s willing to give it everything to take our company to the next level!”. This is not a good description of a role. If your interviewer is unable to properly inform you as to what your responsibilities will be within the company, make a point of asking for a bit more clarity. If this is met with anything other than a more specific explanation, it could be a sign that the company might be dishonest and perhaps even exploitative.
Your interviewer comes across as self-absorbed or arrogant
Sometimes you walk into an interview and find yourself across from the Kanye West of interviewers. They’ll let you finish, but first you’ll need to hear how their efforts at the company were the best of all time. Inflated egos can be the norm in certain industries or sectors like fashion, advertising or finance. In the end it’s your call, and you’re the one who’s gonna have to deal with it. Choose wisely.
This article was originally published in 2015.