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Red Flags to Watch Out for When Interviewing

The search for a new job, especially in a new country, can be a long, exhausting process. When you finally get an interview, it can be easy to feel like you would be happy to work anywhere that offered you a position. However, the last thing you want is to relocate across the globe only to find yourself in a toxic work environment. Instead, remember that an interview is just as much of a chance for you to evaluate your potential future employer as it is for them to determine if you would be a good fit for the position. 

During an interview, keep an eye out for these red flags that could signal an unethical employer or toxic work environment. 

  • The interview process is disorganized. 

Of course, emergencies happen, and sometimes an interviewer may need to reschedule your interview. However, this isn’t something that should happen multiple times. The same goes for if your interviewer shows up without having read your resume, doesn’t know who you are, or isn’t sure who you’ll meet with next. If a company is really excited about you, they should be treating your time with respect. 

  • The interviewer is rude.  

Remember that just like you, your interviewer is going to be on his best behavior during an interview. This means that if he is rude, uses intimidation, or isn’t paying you the proper amount of attention (on his phone, asking you the same questions more than once, etc.), you can only expect this behavior to worsen once you work there. 

  • The job description is vague or shifts depending on who you are talking to. 

It’s important that you know what a company’s expectations are of you. A vague job description is a recipe for exploitation — the company can always add extra tasks without increasing your pay or awarding you with a new title. On the other hand, if you interview multiple people about the same position and no one agrees what your duties would be, it’s likely a sign that the company hasn’t clarified the role or the interviewers aren’t putting the proper amount of time into the hiring process. Neither is a good sign. 

  • No one will answer your questions. 

An interview is a conversation, not an interrogation. You should always feel free to ask any questions you may have about your future employer and the role. If you ask reasonable questions and keep getting vague answers like, “I’m not sure” or “I’d have to get back to you on that,” it’s usually a sign that they don’t want to answer these questions because they know you won’t like the answers. 

  • Your interviewer or other employers look stressed or unhappy. 

Of course, many jobs are fast-paced and stressful, but if everyone in the office looks miserable, this could be a red flag. It’s a great practice to ask your interviewer, “what do you like about working here?” Be sure to observe their body language as well as their answer. If you can tell your interviewer is struggling to find something positive to say about the company, you can be sure you would be in the same position. 

  • The role has a high turnover rate. 

Before the interview, see if you can find out how many people have held your position within the last five years. If you notice the company has a hard time holding on to its workers, you can be sure there is something wrong. Tip: look up the company on, a place where employees can leave anonymous reviews of employers. If you see the same criticism over and over, there’s a good chance it’s true. 

  • They offer you the position too quickly. 

Hiring an employee in the US is expensive, so most ethical companies want to take time and be careful about who they hire. If you only have one interview, the interviewer doesn’t ask you many questions, and they offer you the job on the spot; this is a red flag. This usually signals they see employees as disposable, expect you will quit soon, and need a warm body to fill the position. 

  • The interviewer asks you illegal questions. 

Many people don’t realize that the US has very strict anti-discrimination laws that prohibit interviewers from asking questions regarding a candidate’s: 

  • Age 
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Marital or family status 
  • Citizenship or nationality 
  • Criminal record
  • Disability

Of course, sometimes an interviewer might make an honest mistake while trying to get to know you, but if you get a feeling they are trying to discriminate against you, take note. You can answer politely but think carefully before accepting an offer from an employer who thinks it’s ok to be discriminatory.