Changing Jobs? Avoid These Interview Red Flags
Changing Jobs? Avoid These Interview Red Flags

With the Turnover Tsunami creating an employee-driven job market, employers in all sectors are facing a challenge in identifying and attracting qualified new candidates. Despite the challenge, it doesn’t mean employers want to lower their standards. Just because candidates may be harder to find, it doesn’t mean you’re the only viable candidate.

red flags to avoid durin job interivewThe following red flags are all too common with many job seekers and may cost you a job offer.

A Bad Attitude

No matter how desperate a potential employer may seem, hiring managers are still going to notice—and be turned off by—a poor attitude and unprofessional behaviour during the interview process.

There’s no sugar-coating this one: if you’re not presenting yourself with confidence and (reasonable) positivity, hiring managers will take note and move on to someone who is more eager for the opportunity. Being positive isn’t optional; it demonstrates you as someone who is a self-starter and doesn’t have to be told what to do all the time.

Black man aced job interviewThink of your job interview as an audition where you must demonstrate that you can handle criticism in addition to being able to generally showcase your skills and value as an employee.

No matter how well or poorly it goes, always part ways by thanking your interviewers for their time and expressing your continued interest in working with them—you never know when keeping your options open could come back around again!

Trash Talking a Previous Employer

If you talk badly about your last company, you will talk badly about your next company as well. So, while it might be tempting to want to vent in an interview after a bad experience at a previous job, be careful not to make negative comments. When referring to your former employer, avoid using phrases and words like frustrated, terrible, despicable, backstabbing and unethical.

Instead of complaining that your boss was terrible, use the opportunity to show why you’re a great employee by talking about what you learned from the difficult experience. If it really was something terrible and unfair, like being sexually harassed, then it’s OK to explain that you left because of it — but only do so if you’re asked why you left your job. Otherwise, focus on learning from the situation or highlighting how strong and skilful you are for overcoming those challenges.

Job Hopping

Job hopping isn’t necessarily bad or unexpected in this day and age. In some cases, it can be considered beneficial as it shows opportunities to learn new skills and experiences or take on more responsibility. But if you’ve been job hopping for a long time, with many short employment tenures, you may have trouble explaining your past work history in an interview.

If it gets to the point where the number of jobs you’ve had outweighs the years you’ve worked, that can raise a red flag among hiring managers. Employers want to know what happened at these jobs, why they weren’t stable and how they ended – so it’s important that you’re prepared to answer those questions during an interview.

Acting Entitled

No one wants to hire someone who has a sense of entitlement.

There’s no better way to demonstrate your work ethic than by being polite and appreciative, showing respect for others, and giving credit where credit is due.

You may be going into an interview with other potential positions or career opportunities to choose from. Having other options is wonderful but boasting about those options during your interview is going to come across all wrong. A perception of entitlement can come across in many ways. If you spend the interview focused on work-life balance, benefits and vacation days, or suggest in any way you’re only interested in the job for the perks, you’re likely going to be bypassed. Getting a little too comfortable and too casual or oversharing can look unprofessional or demonstrate a lack of emotional intelligence.

Stay humble, be professional and remember you are in a business situation.

You’re Unprepared for the Interview

Research the company: review the company’s website, social media pages, and latest news.

Think about what you can bring to the organization as an employee.

Research the job: Read through the job posting and description to understand your responsibilities if you were hired.

young man practices for interview in front of mirrorPrepare answers to common interview questions. Being unable to answer common interview questions is a huge red flag for any employer. Common interview questions are:

  • “Tell me about yourself,”
  • “Why are you interested in this position?”
  • “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • Consider role-specific questions too. If you’re interviewing for an accounting position, don’t be surprised if they ask you to solve a problem or walk through how you would handle certain scenarios.

Have questions ready: Prepare a list of questions to ask your interviewer(s). This will show that you’re engaged in the hiring process.

The job search process is a two-way street: the company is trying to sell itself to you, and you’re trying to sell yourself to the company. The interviewers are looking for ways in which you’ve added value to your previous employers, and they will ask questions pertinent to your ability to add value to their organization. They might also ask whether or not you’ve done independent research about their organization, including what you like about what they do and why you’d be a good fit for them. If you haven’t prepared yourself for these questions, it will show—and may cost you the offer.

Hiring managers can’t afford NOT to be picky. It costs organizations a lot of time and money to replace unsuitable candidates, so show them you’re a safe bet who stands out from the rest.


Do you want to discuss a career, HR, or training-related matter? Should you schedule a practice job interview?

Reach out today for a free and confidential initial consultation by phone, email, or via direct message on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

More than career coaching, it’s career psychology®.

I/O Advisory Services Inc. – Building Resilient Careers and Organizations TM.

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