Recruiting 101: The ABCs of Red Flags in Your Job Hunt: Alliteration for Easy Remembering

Aug 31 / Thomas Bartelsen

During a job interview for a recruiting role about ten years ago, I encountered a concerning situation with the recruiting director. As someone who strives to be open-minded and non-discriminatory, it was unsettling to experience prejudice as a German-Italian individual. Despite having an hour-long interview with the director, he did not take any notes on my qualifications. When I mentioned my experience working with international stakeholders, he interrupted me and wrote "German-Italian" on my CV copy, displaying a facial expression of disgust toward Italians.

I ultimately decided not to work for this individual and informed their assistant of my decision. Looking back, I recognize that incidents like this can occur in any position. To help others avoid similar red flags, we have compiled a list of minor and significant warning signs to watch out for during job interviews.

Red Flags: Recognizing Unreliable Companies and Interviews

When looking for a new job, it's crucial to look for red flags that may indicate an unreliable company or interview. These warning signs may include unprofessional behavior from the interviewer, job descriptions that lack detail, or unrealistic expectations. By identifying these red flags early on, you can save time and energy by avoiding companies that may not be a good match for you.

Always trust your instincts and conduct thorough research before committing to any job opportunity. Proactively searching for jobs and carefully evaluating each potential employer can increase your chances of finding the perfect job and avoid potential challenges. Keep these ABCs of red flags in mind and remain vigilant in your job search – your dream job may be just around the corner!

Please always bear in mind that very often recruiters have to juggle (more than) two dozen roles at the same time, and their capacity is often extremely limited.  Also, keep in mind that this shift from an employer's to an employee market has not yet fully arrived.Also keep in mind that this shift from an employers to an employee market has not yet arrived fully. Companies often struggle with keeping up with social media due to reasons such as missing capacity or other higher priorities, such as filling roles or a lack of budget for more capacity or marketing.Companies often struggle with keeping up with social media due to reasosn such as missing capacity or other higher priorities such as filling roles or missing budget for more capacity or marketing. 

Naturally, there are subtle warnings and more severe red flags. General warning signs might be:
  • Bad kununu reviews of the employer (i.e., employees always state that there is a high workload, unpaid overtime, mismanagement – you name it)

  • high fluctuation data on Linkedin
     
  • If given: you have a network within that industry and repeatedly hear lousy resentment

  • Google News gives you an idea about a negative trajectory (i.e., the company closed a plant in Germany or did not achieve a vital milestone previously announced)

Pre-application: a company has not yet understood that it´s a candidate market:

  • The company needs to respond to candidate inquiries promptly, leading to frustration and a negative candidate experience.

  • The company must showcase its culture, sustainability efforts, or values on its career website, making it difficult for candidates to determine if they would be a good fit.

  • The company's job postings need more detail and provide more information about the role or the company, causing candidates to lose interest.


  • The company doesn't engage with candidates on social media or other channels, missing out on potential candidates who may have yet to find its career website.

  • The company doesn't offer any perks or benefits that would make it stand out from other employers, making it less appealing to top candidates.

Application & interview stage:

  • Submitting The applicant tracking system involves so much red tape, fields, and manual data entries that you need more than 10 minutes to fill it out (best practice is less than 5 minutes if your application is ready)

  • The company doesn´t send you a receipt of your application

  • The company needs more than three weeks for a first decision on whether you are going forward with them or being declined

  • The interview organization is complex, and they only offer you one slot and state take it or leave it and don´t accommodate your time as well

  • They require a very intense recruiting process where you have to take an entire day off for the first interview step

  • They don´t provide a whole interview process perspective (i.e., it´s three interview steps)

  • They have an excessive amount of interviews (i.e., a friend of mine had ten interviews for a specialist role) 

  • The recruiter doesn´t know anything about the role

  • They don´t provide timely feedback as agreed upon or even ghost you

  • During an interview, you realize that the interviewers have different perspectives on the role

  • There are more than three interview partners in an interview, and it appears like a test environment (besides chemistry meetings where you get to meet the team)

  • They don´t give you time for your questions.
  • Interviewers talk badly about other employees or blame them.

  • Direct/indirect discrimination, as in my case 

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What you can do?

As you can imagine, the list is infinite. Yet, this gives a first impression. Yet, the worst red flag is probably ghosting – and that´s true for both sides because candidates also ghost companies.

It's unacceptable for employers to disappear without a trace during the job search process. This behavior can leave you feeling confused and discouraged. However, you can take a proactive approach to your job search to avoid being ghosted. Thoroughly research companies and ask questions during the interview process to ensure they are trustworthy and dependable. Follow up after interviews and stay communicate with potential employers. Remember, being ghosted doesn't reflect your value as a job candidate. Keep pushing forward and seek out opportunities with companies that appreciate your time and effort. By being vigilant and proactive, you can avoid pitfalls and find the right job.

In conclusion,

A. Trust your instincts and conduct thorough research before committing to any job opportunity. Look out for red flags such as unprofessional behavior from the interviewer, job descriptions that lack detail, or unrealistic expectations.

B. Avoid companies that may not be a good match for you by identifying early red flags. Check for lousy kununu reviews, high fluctuation data on LinkedIn, negative sentiment within your industry network, and negative news articles.

C. Take a proactive approach to your job search by thoroughly researching companies and asking questions during the interview process to ensure they are trustworthy and dependable. Follow up after interviews and stay in communication with potential employers to avoid being ghosted.
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