5 Red Flags to Watch for in Your Next Career Move

5 red flags to watch for in your next job interview.

5 Red Flags to Watch for in Your Next Career Move

Job interviews are a two-way street. Obviously, you want to make a good impression on your interview panel. But it’s just as important that they make a good impression on you too.

As you interview, it’s critical to stay attuned to the signals that shed light on what the role is really going to be like. Failing to sniff out a company’s true colors could land you in a position that’s not the right fit. That’s a miserable situation for everyone involved, not to mention one that could quickly send you back out on the job hunt.

What should you watch for? Here are five interview red flags that could be enough to turn down the job.

They insult company leadership

Insulting company leadership is not only unprofessional, it’s a sure-fire sign that you’re dealing with a highly disgruntled person. This points to a couple of things, and none of them are good. It could be that the person’s rants actually have merit (worrisome), that the company culture is hostile (toxic), that the politics are fractured (stressful), or that this person is a just a pain to work with (not fun). Any way you dissect it, when someone insults key company decision-makers, that’s a bright red flag.

They complain

Someone who’s openly complaining about the job might as well be holding up a sign that says “Warning: Enter at your Own Risk.” They’re clearly trying to set the expectation that things can get pretty difficult. Obviously, if they’re bemoaning minor stuff (like snack room spread or the desk ergonomics), that could be something to dismiss (depending on what’s important to you, of course). But larger issues—things like cross-functional tension, major roadblocks to meeting goals, or budget restrictions—should definitely give you pause.

They’re unprofessional

Interviews are not the place for political or religious rants. Or for nosy questions about your personal life. If either of those things happen—or if the person says anything generally creepy or off-putting—it’s probably a sign to say thanks but no thanks.

The category of unprofessional doesn’t just apply to what people say. It’s about respectful behavior as well. If someone’s a half an hour late, that’s a bad sign (especially if they’d be your manager). The same is true if they’re constantly checking email or completely winging the conversation. It’s expected of you to be present, on time, and prepared, and it should be expected of them too.

Peers seem overworked and overstressed

While you can’t take a magnifying glass and examine the bags under people’s eyes, it’s important to gauge whether your peers are overworked and overstressed. If you hear a ton of people saying “crazy hours” and “things are unpredictable,” it’s likely that if you got the position, you’d be burning the candle at both ends too. “Work life balance” means different things to different people, so it’s important to determine whether the demands of the role align with how you want to live your life. If you’re concerned, probe for more information.

They’re hard-selling you

If the company wants you, they’re going to paint themselves in the shiniest light possible. But be wary if things start to sound too close to an investor pitch (or like straight-up snake oil). Look beyond the buzzwords (especially with startups) and ask hard questions about the company’s financials and product roadmap. If the answers seem thin or like a side-step, that could be problematic.

If you’re sitting in an interview room, that means you’re interested enough in the role to be there. But don’t let your excitement about things (or your desire to impress) cloud your judgement. Make sure you’re reading between the lines to get a clear picture of the company and the role. Missing red flags could land you in a major career mistake.

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Accompany (accompany.com) is a relationship intelligence platform for professionals that was founded in 2013 and is headquartered in Los Altos, California. Available for mobile, the web, and as a Gmail extension, Accompany’s intelligent, adaptive chief of staff app serves professionals everything they need to know about the important people in their network, anytime they need it. Accompany is funded by CRV, Cowboy Ventures, ICONIQ Capital, and Ignition Partners, and led by Amy Chang, Matthias Ruhl, and Ryan McDonough.