Congratulations! You crafted a winning resume using a creative resume template and avoided common cover letter mistakes to score a job interview with a company you’re excited about. But are you ready for the interview process ahead? We reached out to Jill Ozovek, a career coach who helps people interview for and land their dream jobs in New York City, to find out the right way to prepare. After talking with Jill, we’ve got her key things to think about as you learn more about working at the company, along with six interview red flags you can’t afford to miss.
1. The phone screen is totally off. Though they can be informal or quick, phone screens are a pretty important part of the interview process and can give you a real glimpse into how a company operates. Jill says, “If the person phone screening you constantly puts you on hold or gets distracted by someone coming in the room multiple times, that could be an immediate red flag.” She also told us, “If they seem frazzled and all over the place, or make multiple mistakes about you, your background or the job you’re interviewing for, then chances are that this isn’t a company you want to work for.” Note that if the company IS a good one to work for, they’ll show you early signs that it really is.
2. The team treats the administrative staff terribly. If all goes well with your phone screen, you’ll be bounding into the office shortly after. Since this probably is your first IRL experience with the company, pay super close attention to vibe, culture and how people treat one another. Jill asks, “How do the employees treat the receptionist? Do they acknowledge her or him? Do they address him/her by name? Ask him/her anything non-work-related like, “How was your kid’s recital?” If people breeze in through the doorway without so much as saying hello or seem discontent, keep that in mind to consider as part of the big picture later.
3. You’re unimpressed by your potential new boss. Meeting with your potential boss means the process is headed in right direction! Though this can be a nerve-wracking meeting, take it as an opportunity to evaluate the person you’ll be reporting to as much as they are you. Jill says to consider, “Are they prepared for the interview? Does it look like they read your resume?” And don’t forget to consider the compatibility factor too — do you like this person’s personality? Do you admire their experience and expertise? Do you feel good about working closely together or as part of the team? When looking for a gig that will help you meet all of your goals, be smart about selecting the person who’s best-positioned to help you get there. It matters!
4. Your interviewer doesn’t give you time to ask questions. Asking the right questions is just as critical as answering them, and any good company will care a ton about what you have in mind when looking for a new opportunity. The only thing worse than terrible answers to your questions is a situation where you don’t even get to ask them at all! Issue no forgiveness if your interview ends and you haven’t had a shot to bring up anything you’re wondering about. If time was truly an issue, your interviewer should at the very least apologize and give you an easy way to follow-up with them.
5. The Glassdoor reviews are consistently awful. Whether you do your research at the beginning of your job search or midway through, make note of the trends in what people talk about when the company is mentioned. Jill says, “If you see an outrageous Glassdoor review, it could be a one-off. However, it’s hard to argue with consistent, horrible reviews.” To get the whole picture consider, “Do people from the company speak at industry events? Have you seen employees at conferences? How do they present themselves?” If the answer isn’t positive, take that very seriously.
6. You feel uncomfortable. If you feel unreasonably uncomfortable at any point in the process, take that as a HUGE red flag. It doesn’t matter if it was joke that fell flat or an honest question met with a scoff — or even something even more severe. If you can’t be yourself or don’t feel quite right, start looking elsewhere ASAP.
Ultimately, whether you receive an offer from a company you no longer feel excited about or have a hard time tuning out the illogical voice in your head telling you “no” about a new job, refuse to settle. With so many cool companies hiring creative and smart people, you’re sure to find a job, team and culture that are truly a fab fit FOR YOU so long as you keep at it.
Have you ever had a horrible job interview experience? Tell us about it @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)