Red Flags: What to Look for in an Interview

skeptical interviewer
December 5, 2017

Beyond basic “never dos” like showing up late and/or inebriated, wearing flip-flops, or not knowing anything about the organization or position, there are other ways candidates can derail their chances of advancing further.

Interviewers need to be aware of warning signs; spotting them quickly can prevent possible problems later.

These can include:

  • Personal opinions. Some personal information might be useful in fleshing out the candidate’s personality. He likes fly fishing. She loves to go to baseball games. But offering firm views on touchy matters like politics, religion, or related topics can be polarizing, especially if the job doesn’t require it. Exceptions can be made for political advocacy groups or organizations with religious affiliations, but generally expressing strong opinions early on can be a sign of someone who may be ready to clash with other co-workers in the future.
  • Inconsistent answers. Someone with a great-looking resume should be able to answer questions about it, right? Not if there was embellishing going on. While an interview shouldn’t be an interrogation, it should be an opportunity for the candidate to say why they have the specific background for the position. But if they only give brief explanations or different answers than their resume, it could warn of possible truth-stretching. Checking references prior to interviewing can also verify their honesty.
  • Poor attention. People can be low-key, or they may be pausing to think of a good response, so they may not answer your question right away. But if you’re getting the vibe that they would rather be anywhere besides with you, it’s a clear danger sign. Frequent yawns, short answers or being distracted all can show their lack of enthusiasm. Pulling out their phone also can be an instant deal-breaker.
  • Overly negative. Their previous or current workplace may truly be terrible. But most interviewers don’t want to hear all the messy details at this stage of an interview. Employment sites also tell candidates to “focus on the positive” when they prepare for an interview – so going into an extended rant about their last bad boss shows that they not only complain but didn’t seek out interview tips.
  • True confessions. “You won’t believe my crazy weekend!” Going into great depth about something best described in a personal journal or gossiped to a friend can indicate to an interviewer that the person lacks tact and maturity, and may not be the right fit for your organization.
  • Too many questions about benefits. It’s fair to ask about working conditions and even salary ranges if asked discreetly. But focusing too much on the little stuff, like vacation policies or other perks can show that they’re more motivated by rewards and less about the position.

Next time you’re conducting a job interview, be sure to look out for these red flags. 

Through the Michigan Chamber partnership with LABORCHEX, members get discounted pricing to employment background screening services. To learn more, please email Kym Lewis or call her at 1-800-880-0366.