When I moved to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, I was working all kinds of odd jobs for a while before I eventually found a gig that I stayed at for several years.
And in those early days in my new city, I had some interviews for jobs that were…kind of shady. I remember one guy told me to drive to his house, which was about 30 minutes away, and if I had a car and a good attitude, I’d immediately be making $50,000 a year, no questions asked.
Yeah…I ended up skipping out on that opportunity…
What red flags should people look out for during job interviews?
Here’s how AskReddit users responded.
1. Yeah, right.
“My favorite is “there’s a lot of people waiting in line to work here, count yourself lucky.”
Huge red flag.”
2. Don’t do it!
“‘Well, the overtime isn’t mandatory, but most folks stick around after hours most days.’
Spoilers: The overtime is mandatory.”
3. No way.
“I interviewed with MetLife insurance about twenty years ago.
They demanded that I provide them with a contact list of no fewer than a hundred friends and family.
Noped out of that quickly.”
“This actually happened to me:
Interviewer: Do you have any questions for us?
Me: what is a challenge this department has recently faced?
Interviewer: Job security.”
5. Why are you reading that?
“When you are signing all the forms they give you and you are taking your time to read over every document so that you can fully understand what you are getting into…
And people come in and start telling you that you don’t need to read this and that just sign here and so on.”
6. A bad omen.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but “you’ll be wearing many hats” was a sign that they were going to give me the work of four positions and the wage of one.
I didn’t last a year there before I left and now I won’t even finish reading job ads that include that line.”
7. Mystery document.
“I was once part of a group onboarding for an IT job.
They handed us all the one-page new hire “contract” and everyone except me signed immediately.
When I read the paperwork, I discovered we were signing a mystery document.
Clauses included “I agree to abide by the personal search and seizure security policy (attached).”
Without other pages, there was no way to determine what I was agreeing to.
I kept requesting more and more pages until the HR drone said “ok, I guess [me] is just determined to hold everyone up.
We will handle you separately if you’re struggling so much.”
After I walked out and drove home, I called the hiring manager to apologize for not taking the job. He informed me that HR reported I had walked out after refusing to be drug tested.”
8. Good idea.
“I always ask about training and learning curves.
Every job I’ve had that went wrong- I notice that when that question came up they stumbled.
The current job I have, when I asked the question they had sparks in their eyes as they explained the whole process from day 1 of shadowing to the transition to working solo.
And even when Covid hit they managed to continue without skipping a beat.”
9. Lots of turnover.
“They told me all about their generous severance packages.
In the initial interview.
10. D*ck move.
“Was interviewed by a senior programmer and the department head.
The department head was continuously making condescending remarks towards the other interviewer.
Poor guy just sounded broken.
Hope he’s somewhere else now.”
“Once an interviewer straight up asked me if I had any trouble working for free on weekends…
I told them my free time is more valuable than anything and that the only way that I would work a weekend is if they are paying me and if I felt like working a weekend.
She got really mad at me and ended the interview right away.
Biggest red flag I’ve ever seen because they didn’t even try to hide it.”
12. A bunch of red flags.
“”Yea, everyone here is new, but it’s totally because of covid.”
“The boss doesn’t like people going out to get lunch because they’re afraid you’ll never come back, so being your own lunch.”
“You’ll get weird looks if you leave on time.”
It was a Chinese owned company with heavy Chinese work culture influence so you were expected to stay overtime all week.
Also “the people here are nice but it’s pretty stressful”.”
13. Oh, great!
“You are required to wear clothing that has the company logo. You must purchase it yourself.
From the company.”
14. Time is valuable.
“I once showed up for an interview and the manager wasn’t there that day. No one called me to let me know.
The assistant manager was not apologetic for the scheduling issue at all. She was literally just like “oh, she’s not here today” in a tone that suggested I should somehow already know that. She said they would call me to reschedule some time the next week.
I told her I was currently unavailable M-W but could come in any time Th-F. She said if I couldn’t make time for the interview, I probably wouldn’t be a good fit. I said okay, and went on to my other interviews and ending up working elsewhere.
You’d think that would be the end of it, but both the manager and the assistant manager badmouthed me to a few other people in the industry, including one of my friends.
Hello? I made time for an interview. You disrespected me by not calling me to let me know it was canceled. I gave you the times I was available to reschedule, and that was disrespectful somehow?”
15. This and that.
“Jobs where the expectations of the position aren’t clear.
The person hiring you should be able to give a clear idea of your responsibilities are day to day in a practical way. It shows that the company understands what it wants out of the position.
I’ve worked a couple positions that had a really hard time figuring out who was supposed to do what that lead to a lot of confusion and both of them had this in the interviews. If the company you’re working for can’t define what success in that position looks like you won’t be able to either.”
16. Uh uh…
“I interviewed for an independent contractor position on a piece rate.
It’s hard to predict how much you’re going to earn on a piece rate, so to attract me the manager showed me some paystubs from his guys. I noticed that:
He could easily cherry pick paystubs to show my his best guys best weeks. All that tells me is that I’m likely to make less than what he’s showing me, at least on average.
The paystubs were obviously designed to be confusing. They were a full page and absolutely covered in data.
He wanted me to be impressed by a dollar amount (obviously not accounting for costs which the contractor has to carry or taxes which the contractor has to deduct and pay) but he took them away before anyone could have deciphered what the pay period, piece rate, number of jobs or kms was.
He showed me other people paystubs! wtf??
Another red flag is that they were desperate to hire, because they didn’t have enough contractors to deliver the work contracts they’d already sold. I had two guys from different offices call me after I’d declined the position who apparently still thought I was considering it.”
17. That’s not what I asked…
“When you ask, “what do you like about working here.”
And the interviewer talks about the location of the job (“it’s a great place to live!”) instead of the actual job.”
18. Best of the best.
“”We only want the best of the best”
Me: “how much are you paying?”
“I brought up a company’s awful Glassdoor reviews and they got so mad they ended the interview.
Well, guess I dodged that bullet.”
“At my last place of work, the person interviewing me had a printed cartoon on their wall of someone who looked like a bomb had blown up in their face, with the caption “I spoke with ‘boss’ name’ about it.. I guess we’re still doing it”.
That wasn’t subtle at all, but I ignored it. The boss was an absolute tyrant who wouldn’t listen to her staff, consider changing her mind about anything, or let people do the work they were best suited to do.
She wouldn’t show up for weeks at a time. The job itself was decent, but she was the worst boss I’ve ever had.”
21. A bad vibe.
“If you can see the floor before the interview, you can sometimes get a vibe about the place. I once went to interview for a sales position.
Aside from the interviewer being 30 mins late, it did allow me to sit and observe the situation. I realized pretty quickly this was not going to be the place for me. Very quiet except a handful of people on the phones cold calling.
Many reps trying to push for contacts on the other end, just painful to listen to. And when they’d hang up there wasn’t really any interaction with co workers. Just quiet, and then another call. It all seemed very tense. I noped out of their real quick after the five minutes the interview took. Dodged a bullet.
I had interviewed for a call center job at another place that’s as a complete 180 from that. Yes it’s a call center job so it is what it is, but there was laughter on the floor, people talking to floor managers, just a completely different vibe that was more inviting.”
“I was once told “Sometimes the hourly workers go on strike and they lock us in to keep the production line running, but management brings us steaks and we have an informal agreement with the unions so you can cross the picket lines once a week to visit your wife.””
23. Can’t go anywhere.
“Employees are either new hires or have been there for 15+ years with no in between.
There is no room for improvement – it’s better to leave for advancement.”
24. Such a lame saying.
“When they feel the need to reassure you in the interview that at that company, they “work hard, but also play hard.”
They don’t play hard – it’s a sweatshop and they’re just trying to convince that’s it’s anything but one.”
What red flags do you think people should be on the lookout for during job interviews?
Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
We look forward to hearing from you!