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Spotting Red Flags at Job Interviews

How to predict that “working here will suck!”

We often get so caught up applying for a position and worrying about our performance at the interview that we often forget that we’re also there to evaluate the opportunity.

Blind sighted by opportunity we can often overlook or ignore obvious red flags in a workplace which will only come back to bite you as soon as you start the role. So, take a moment during your interview to consider the environment, culture, people, and work that you will be required to deal with.

Here are some questions you can ask in your interview to gauge your potential new workplace:

  • Can you tell me about a challenge that this company/department has recently faced?

  • If the employers talk about losing staff, then it’s a good idea to follow up with questions regarding the high turnover rate. Perhaps there is a good reason behind everyone leaving?

  • What do you like about working here?

  • You’re looking for a genuine answer here, if they start by listing perks such as location, parking spots and salary packaging options but nothing in relation to the work being done, then that’s a red flag. You want to work with people that are passionate about the work they do!

  • Can you tell me why you are hiring for this position? Is this a newly created position or will I be replacing someone, and if so why?

  • Knowing why someone has left a position can tell you a lot about what you’re about to walk into

Watch the interviewer’s body language as they answer these questions as they will often react more sincerely with their expression before they answer. If they look confused, unsure, annoyed, stumped or at a loss of word, then perhaps their answer isn’t as truthful as it should be. You’re looking for an answer that is delivered immediately, with the words and actions matching each other.

Now that you’ve asked your question, here are some common quotes that should tip your sensors:

  • “Overtime isn’t mandatory, but most staff stay back extra hours”

  • In other words, they expect constant unpaid overtime from you

  • “We work hard and we play hard”

  • There are very long hours ahead

  • “We’re a family”

  • We expect more and give less

If you get an opportunity after your interview, ask to see the workspace or for a quick tour of the office. This allows you to see the environment, how employees interact with one another and a glimpse at the moods of the employees.

Now employers are sure to be looking at your LinkedIn profile so you should also be checking out their profile on Glassdoor! If anything stands out to you during your research, remember to bring it into the interview as a question.

It’s sometimes difficult to spot red flags especially if you’re excited about a new opportunity, so remember to talk to someone else about the interview and have them share their insights!

Newton Quach


Jan 7th 2021

Currently a Technical Assistant at NSW Health Pathology, UTS Alumni and former AOD Harm Reduction Team Leader at Australian Red Cross save-a-mate program. Newton is a highly motivated, goal driven individual who has a passion in healthcare, humanitarian causes, science and technology.

Speciality: Resumes (Science and Health)

We hope you enjoyed this blog post of ours, stay tuned for more coming your way in the new year!

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