Red Flags to Watch for in Your Job Interview

It’s that time again to look for a job. You’ve polished your resume, crafted cover letters, told your network you’re looking, and it’s starting to pay off: you’ve landed an interview.

First of all, congratulations. Second, prepare your technical skills since it’s time to impress. Third, figure out what you need to know.

Interviews are for you as well as for the potential employer. The company is evaluating you, looking at your technical skills, your growth potential, your personality, etc. You get to evaluate the company on the same things: their technology choices, their growth potential, their personality, and more. So while you’re busy being very impressive, how do you interview the company? What should you look for? What are the interview red flags?

There are some good signs:

  • You understand each other. The conversation includes a lot of “yes” and “right”. You don’t find yourself saying, “no, well” frequently.
  • The offices are your style. If you like open, the offices are open. If you like quiet, there are cubes or offices for everybody. This is a very hard work style to change, and being comfortable really makes coming to work a much better experience.
  • There are interesting problems. Sure, you don’t know all the details yet, but what they’ve told you is intriguing.

And then there’s red flags:

  • If they don’t ask many technical questions when you’re interviewing for a technology position. If they don’t assess your technical chops, then what kind of bozos might they have hired already? Is that the kind of team you want?
  • Everything is something you’ve done before. None of the projects or problems or skills the interviewers mention are new to you. That’s a recipe for boredom. Also, it’s a warning that the company might not be a good place to keep your skills current, and that’s not great.
  • The personality seems… off. This is a big one for your peers or other people you’d be working with. If you just don’t click, that’s a problem. It’s hard to tell personality in an interview (hint: the interviewer is nervous, too!), but it’s something to watch for.
  • There are many references to “management” dictating terms. “Management” instead of “my boss” or “the VPs here” is a distancing term, and that’s not a good thing. It usually means individual engineers don’t feel like they can work with management and  management is a remote entity.

What other red flags do you look for in an interview? What about green flags?

Comments

  1. BY RMS says:

    Only once do I recall being asked questions of a specific technical nature. Most of the time the questions were about problem solving approaches, beliefs, experiences, etc.

    • BY Catherine Powell says:

      Youch, RMS! Where I’m at they ask all that, but you also have to write some code. Usually it’s something like FizzBuzz, but it filters out a surprising number of candidates who somehow can’t actually code.

      • BY RMS says:

        How are the candidates even getting an interview? The resume must be quite the attention getter, eh?

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