Red Flags in the Hiring Process

A Chroma collab with: Amara Jones & Adam Bennetta

Looking for a job is hard work. It can be time-consuming, demotivating, and all-round just a nightmare. Which is why you should be doing everything you can to make sure the job you’re going into is a viable option for the long term…

But how do you do that?

Well, by being vigilant for red flags from employers at each stage.

Many companies hide their red flags by burying them in the trenches with their oldest employees. They’re hoping, over time, the soil will leach away the harsh red tones. And it works for some. But not for us. We’re here to help you uncover them.

Recognising these warning signs can help you assess whether an employer is the right fit for you and to avoid potential issues down the line. Here’s a brief guide to identifying red flags from employers throughout the hiring process, from application to onboarding:

    1. Application stage
    2. Pre-screening stage
    3. Interview stage
    4. Offer stage
    5. Onboarding stage

1. Application stage

The application stage can be the most arduous. You’ll be scrolling through job description after job description, just waiting for one to stand out. But once you’ve scrolled through what seems to be a hundred, those red flags start blurring before your very eyes and all of a sudden they’re a light amber. A warning light rather than a stop light.

Even still, it’s important to stick to your values and remember what you should be steering away from. If you’re not sure, we’ve included a few things below to be on the lookout for👀

→ Lack of clarity in job description
An unclear, vague, or excessively long job description may indicate that the employer hasn’t fully defined the role or expectations and isn’t actually sure of what they want, leading to potential misunderstandings later on.

→ Requesting excessive personal information
Employers who request unnecessary personal information or ask probing questions unrelated to the job. Not only can this practice potentially border on discrimination, but it may also raise privacy concerns or indicate a lack of respect for boundaries.

→ No response or delayed response to applications
A lack of response or significant delay in acknowledging your application may suggest disorganisation, lack of communication across the company, or a simple lack of respect for candidates’ time and efforts.

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2. Pre-screening stage

Making it past the application stage can make it feel like the longest stretch is far behind you and you can finally take that breath, but don’t be fooled.

The pre-screen phone call will be your first opportunity to discuss what exactly it is the company is looking for, which is why it’s important to get a good understanding of the requirements of the role, figure out what questions you’d like to ask, and find out what is in it for you. Here are three red flags you must be looking out for.

→ Unrealistic job requirements
Employers’ who set unrealistic or overly demanding job requirements may indicate a lack of understanding of the market or an unwillingness to compromise on expectations. And if they’re willing to die on this hill so early on and without need, what else would they be unwilling to negotiate on?

→ Inflexible interview scheduling
Employers who are unwilling to accommodate reasonable requests for interview scheduling or demonstrate inflexibility in their approach may signal a rigid or unsupportive work environment.

→ Lack of transparency about the hiring process
Employers who are vague or evasive about the hiring process, timelines, or next steps may raise concerns about communication and transparency. What are they hiding? Maybe nothing, or maybe the biggest, glowing red flag.

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3. Interview stage

So the pre-screen call went well and you’ve been told you’re suitable to move onto the next stage. That’s great! But the interview stage comes with a lot of pressures and promises—not only is there a big opportunity for identifying red flags, but it’s also good to see how the company’s processes work in real time. It can tell you a lot about a company’s values by how they handle people they’re trying to attract! Let’s get into what makes each part a red flag.

→ Lack of respect for candidate’s time
Employers who keep you waiting excessively for the interview or fail to follow up within a reasonable timeframe afterward may demonstrate a lack of respect for your time and commitments.

→  Negative company culture signals
During the interview, pay attention to cues about company culture, such as negative comments from interviewers about current or former employees, which may indicate a toxic or unsupportive work environment.

→ Lack of information
If you’ve been invited to interview but have received no information on when or where this interview is taking place, it may indicate that there is a lack of urgency regarding the internal recruitment and they don’t view it, and by extension, you, as a priority.

→ Pressure tactics or unrealistic expectations
Employers who use pressure tactics or convey unrealistic expectations during the interview, such as expecting immediate availability or long working hours without adequate compensation, may signal a disregard for work-life balance or employee well-being.

→ Unprepared interviewers
Interviewers who appear unprepared, ask irrelevant questions, or demonstrate a lack of knowledge about your background may indicate a disorganised or poorly managed hiring process.

→ Inconsistent promises
Be cautious if the employer provides inconsistent information or makes promises during the interview that are not reflected in subsequent communications or actions, as this may indicate a lack of integrity or reliability.

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4. Offer stage

You’ve completed the interview stage (phew!!) and you’ve smashed it—now you’re just waiting for that amazing offer! And after everything you’ve talked about with the hiring manager, you know it’s got to be a good one. But sometimes it can be a little too good to be true… Be mindful of these red flags from employers:

→ Rushed or incomplete offer details
An employer who rushes you to accept an offer without providing comprehensive details about compensation, benefits, job responsibilities, and other essential aspects may be trying to conceal important information or pressure you into a hasty decision.

→ Lack of flexibility in negotiations
Employers who demonstrate inflexibility or unwillingness to negotiate terms of employment, such as salary, benefits, or remote working options may indicate a rigid or hierarchical organisational structure. If there’s an unwillingness to compromise with you this early on, what will they be inflexible on down the line?

→ Unprofessional conduct or communication
Any unprofessional conduct or communication from the employer during the offer stage, such as disrespectful or dismissive behaviour, may serve as a warning sign of potential issues with leadership or workplace culture.

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5. Onboarding stage

It’s the final hurdle, you’ve made it through the trenches and you’re out the other side. Feel good? Well, try not to just yet, because there’s still a few things you still need to watch out for before you commit to what we all hope will be your ✨forever thing✨.

→ Lack of clear onboarding plan
If the employer fails to provide a structured onboarding plan, or neglects to introduce you to key team members and processes, it may indicate a lack of investment in your success and / or a high rate of turnover where staff don’t care who walks through the door.

→ Inadequate training or support
Employers who provide insufficient training or support during the onboarding process may set you up for failure in your new role and indicate a disregard for employee development both personally and professionally.

→ Disorganised or chaotic onboarding experience
An onboarding process that feels disorganised or chaotic may signal broader issues with the company’s internal processes or culture, impacting your ability to thrive in your new position. Especially as a new staff member, it can feel completely overwhelming when there’s no structure.

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By remaining vigilant for these red flags throughout the hiring process, you can better assess potential employers and make informed decisions about the opportunities that align with your career goals and values.

Remember to trust your instincts and prioritise employers who demonstrate professionalism, transparency, and respect for their employees!

If you found this article helpful or if you have some interview advice you can share, drop us a message on LinkedIn.

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