10 Interview Red Flags That Are A Turn Off For Job Candidates

Over 70% of millennial and Gen Z job seekers have admitted to having “new-job regret”, and 20% stated they would quit their new job within a month if the job was not what they had hoped for,  40% would only work for two to six months in a new job before quitting. This information comes from a recent study by The Muse. New job regret is disruptive for both employees and employers, but what are the biggest interview red flags that turn off job candidates? Over 5,100 post-interview ratings from job seekers were examined by People Managing People to determine this.

Interview Red Flags That Are A Turn Off For Job Candidates

Interview Red Flags That Are A Turn Off For Job Candidates

  1. The use of ‘Family’ to describe a company

In the survey, 18% of respondents said that they would see the use of the term ‘family’ to describe a company as a red flag if they heard it during an interview. This indicates that this particular phrase can now be considered outdated and inappropriate in many situations and is the number one red flag.

It is important for employers to take this into consideration when they are communicating with potential job applicants. If you do want to create an environment which feels like a family, then focus on creating a genuine sense of camaraderie and trust between staff members and employees, rather than just using the word ‘family’ in your marketing material.


  1. Staff turnover rates

With 14% of candidates considering this as a red flag, this was second on the list. Staff turnover rates are an important indicator of employee satisfaction and company health. High staff turnover can be a red flag for job candidates, indicating a potential problem within the organisation.

On average, companies experience an 18% turnover rate each year. If a company is repeatedly posting the same job openings, it could indicate they are having difficulty finding someone who will stay in the role.


  1. Overtime

The third-largest cautionary sign for candidates during interviews (13%) is the mention of overtime. It’s one thing to be asked to put in extra time, when business is brisk (e.g. tax season for accountants), but quite another to be required to do overtime constantly.

When an employer suggests that most employees “stick around after hours”, it may be code for an expectation of working overtime, with no additional pay. This can be especially challenging if you are a salaried and exempt employee, as you will not be earning extra money for the extra hours worked. In addition, a job that requires employees to work after hours may not provide any work-life balance or flexibility.

Interview Red Flags

  1. Inappropriate questions

Inappropriate questions were a red flag for 9% of candidates surveyed. This type of questioning can be particularly inappropriate if it is not related to the job role, or if it probes into areas such as a candidate’s marital status, family life, religious beliefs or sexual orientation. Questions like these have no place in a job interview and can make a candidate feel uncomfortable and can make them question the employer’s professionalism.

A skilled interviewer should also be able to recognise this type of inappropriate questioning and either apologise for asking it or swiftly move on to the next relevant question.


  1. Low salaries

A low salary was joint 5th in the top 5 interview red flags for candidates. Employers need to be transparent about salaries and financial compensation so that candidates have clear expectations from the start. There is nothing worse for a candidate than finding out in the interview that the salary is not what they thought it was. This is a waste of time for all involved.


  1. Unrealistic expectations

Candidates reported that unrealistic expectations were the joint 5th top interview red flag. It’s extremely disheartening for a candidate to hear that an employer is expecting more responsibilities in the role,  than would be expected for the salary and benefits they are willing to offer. Employers should be realistic with what they are expecting from job seekers by reviewing the current job market and assessing what other employers are offering.


Interview Red Flags That Are A Turn Off

Our other top interview red flags


  1. Interviewer seems unprepared

One of the biggest red flags, that job candidates notice in interviews, is when an interviewer seems unprepared. This can include not having read through the candidate’s CV or application beforehand, not being able to answer basic questions about the job, or not having a clear agenda for the meeting. Not being prepared indicates a lack of professionalism and respect for the candidate’s time and can be a huge turn-off for job seekers.

To avoid this red flag, interviewers should make sure that they thoroughly review the candidate’s application before the meeting and have a few sample questions prepared.


  1. Talking over the candidate

Having an interviewer that interrupts or talks over the candidate is a huge red flag for job seekers. Interrupting a candidate during an interview can make them feel belittled and can make them think that their opinion does not matter. It’s important for the interviewer to provide the candidate with a chance to explain themselves and to ask relevant questions without interruption. Not only does it show respect for the candidate, but it will help to create an atmosphere where the candidate is comfortable expressing themselves. If the interviewer interrupts the candidate, it could be a sign that they don’t take the candidate’s thoughts seriously and it could also be a sign that they aren’t willing to have an open dialogue.


  1. Being distracted

One of the most disconcerting experiences for a job candidate is when the interviewer appears to be distracted. Whether it’s a mobile phone going off or responding to emails, being preoccupied with other tasks or zoning out during the interview, this can come across as rude and disrespectful.

Being in an interview is a huge responsibility, and it’s important for employers to take it seriously. If a candidate feels that their time is not being respected, it can create an atmosphere of mistrust and doubt. For a candidate to give their best performance in the interview, they need to feel that their interviewer is engaged and focused on them.

tips for job interviewers

  1. Interviewer tries to trip up the candidate

An interviewer trying to trip up a candidate is a big red flag that job seekers look out for. This type of interviewing tactic can be seen as disrespectful, aggressive and unprofessional. When an interviewer tries to trip up a candidate, it can come across as an attempt to make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed in order to gain an advantage.

It is important that interviewers remain respectful and professional when asking questions, they should avoid asking tricky questions or attempt to catch a candidate off guard. Such tactics are counterproductive, as they could put a job seeker off wanting to work for the organisation in the future.

Rather than trying to trip up a candidate, interviewers should aim to create a positive environment where candidates feel comfortable answering questions and expressing themselves. This will help employers get to know the true personality of the candidate, and make sure they’re the right fit for the role.


Now that you know the biggest interview red flags that turn off job candidates, will it help your interview technique?

Contact 2i Recruit