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Red flags when interviewing for job

Is your next role going to be the job of your dreams or nightmares? It can be hard to tell when you’re in the middle of an interview process. But, if you know what to look for, there are some definite red flags that can help you determine whether or not a job is worth pursuing.

Follow these tips to make sure your next role delivers everything promised.

The importance of due diligence for candidates

When you’re interviewing for a job, it’s natural to focus on doing everything you can to be the perfect candidate for the company to hire. However, many job seekers get caught up in the moment and forget that it’s a two-way process.

But this is a big mistake. Just as the company is evaluating your suitability for the role, you should also be assessing the company. You need to take the time to research the company and position before you go in for your interview. This will help you avoid any red flags and ensure the company is the right one for you.

5 red flags to watch out for

So, as part of your due diligence process, let’s look at some of the critical factors to consider:

  1. Is the company financially sound?

One of the biggest red flags you can encounter when interviewing for a job is a company in financial trouble. It’s easy to check on a company’s financial performance through various credit-checking agencies online.

In the UK, you can use the Companies House website to view the most recent financial reports to get a feel for how they’re performing. However, bear in mind that those reports may be significantly out of date. So if you have any concerns, you should raise them at the interview.

Obviously, it’s a delicate subject and needs handling diplomatically, but a quality company should welcome you doing your homework.

  1. How long has the position been vacant?

If the position you’re interviewing for has been vacant for a long time, it could be for various reasons. The role might be incredibly niched with a narrow set of requirements that few people can meet. In that case, you need to be sure you match the requirements precisely before potentially wasting your time interviewing.

However, the company could be struggling to attract top talent due to a poor reputation as an employer or offering salaries below the industry standard.

Either way, it’s worth asking about the reasons for the vacancy during your interview. The answer will give you some insight into the company culture, and whether it’s somewhere you would feel comfortable working.

  1. Is the working culture right for you?

Usually, when attending an interview, you’ll see snapshots of life within the company while you walk around the site. Take careful note of everything you see, as one of the best indicators of a company’s culture is to look at the team. Do people seem happy? Is there evidence of interaction between employees, or is everyone isolated in their own world? Is it noisy and chaotic with people shouting or playing music loudly?

Ideally, you want to join a company where the team is happy and supportive. You’ll spend more time at work than at home, so it’s essential to make sure you’re comfortable with the working environment.

It’s crucial to feel comfortable with the people you’ll be working with daily. And, if you can’t get along with them, it will only be a matter of time before you start looking for another job.

  1. Does the company have a good reputation?

Before you go to your interview, be sure to research the company and find out what their current employees think of them. Look at employee review sites like Glassdoor or Indeed to get an idea of what it’s really like to work there.

Also, take the time to read any news stories about the company. This will help you get a feel for their public image and whether they’re likely to be a good employer.

During the interview, don’t be afraid to ask about their staff turnover. For example, how long has their longest-serving employee been with the company? And what’s the average length of service?

A company with a professional HR department will know those stats, as employee retention is a KPI in most quality businesses. However, if they don’t know or avoid the question, it could be a sign that they’re not looking after their staff properly.

  1. Beware of false promises

This is probably one of the main reasons people leave a business after a short time. As mentioned earlier, it’s easy to get dazzled by all the benefits on offer during the interview process. But you need to determine if there’s any substance behind the promises.

Typical examples include:

Flexible Working

In the post-Covid world, flexible working has become a requirement for most employees. As such, employers are responding by offering their staff WFH (work from home) options. However, you should check if it’s included in your employment contract or if there is an official policy you can read.

Some companies say they offer flexible working, but in reality, it may be frowned upon if you take the option.

Bonus Schemes

One of the major causes of friction is a bonus scheme that looks good on paper but is practically unachievable in real life. So again, make sure bonus payments are included in your contract and ask how much they’ve paid out historically.

Promotion Promises

If the company says there are opportunities for promotion, ask for more detail about how often they’ve promoted staff internally and the associated deliverables. In addition, find out about their employee appraisal process, how regularly they take place, and if career plans are discussed. Businesses that take staff development seriously will have clear policies and development plans for their employees.

Salary Reviews

A big red flag to watch for is companies advertising a salary then offering you a lower one with the promise to move to the advertised one after a period of time. Tread carefully around this one.

It could be that you genuinely lack a particular skill or area of knowledge that prevents you from hitting a specific salary band. If so, ask about how the company will support you in gaining that knowledge and the likely timescales.

If it’s a genuine barrier, the company should be keen to help you learn to achieve a higher salary. However, it can signify a company trying to save some money by “getting you on the cheap”.

Realistic Job Description

You should have received a job specification that details your core duties and deliverables during the application and interviewing process. These job specs can often become a huge wishlist of things the company would like you to do but, in reality, are not essential for the role.

Make sure you read it carefully and use your interview to identify which elements are critical to the role and which are the nice-to-haves. Asking that question also helps to focus the interviewer’s mind on whether you have the core skills/knowledge to fulfill the role.


So, the key takeaways from this article are that you should use your interview to assess whether or not the company will be a healthy environment for you. In addition, you should ask questions about their staff turnover, bonus schemes, and promotion opportunities to get an idea of how they treat employees internally.

Finally, ensure that the job description in your contract matches what’s been discussed during the interview process.

By being aware of these red flags, you can ask the right questions during the interview process to better understand what it would be like to work there and ensure it’s the right business for you.

Kensington Consulting and Kensington Additive are specialist recruiters for the engineering, manufacturing, and Additive Manufacturing sectors.

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