Body & Soul: 5 interview red flags you shouldn't ignore - Michelle Gibbings

In this article for Body & Soul, Michelle was asked to contribute her thoughts about what to look out for during an interview. Michelle explains what to pay extra attention to.

Don’t ignore the warnings only to kick yourself when you’re unhappily employed – we asked the experts how to spot a dud job in the offering.

Ever been in an interview when a little alarm bell starts chiming inside your head? You push it aside because on paper it seems like a great job opportunity, but then it returns more insistently.

You’re not alone.

The problem is many people dismiss such concerns, only to end up in a role that’s at best not fulfilling and at worst bad for your self-esteem, career outlook and even your health.

“No matter how skilled or knowledgeable you are, if you’re drained of energy, you’re likely to think, feel and behave in ways that undermine your success,” says people-management specialist and founder of Corporate Dojo Karen Gately.

“Among the most common drainers in the workplace is cultural misalignment. When the people you work with hold beliefs and behave in ways you find unacceptable, the inevitable outcome is you will be drained of the vital fuel you need to thrive.”

Here, employment gurus share the top-five warning signs to look out for that you and your potential employer are horribly mismatched…

#1. They don’t know enough about you

ike any potential employee, you’ve scoured the internet for reports on this company, boned up on general info about the sector you may be working in and perhaps even LinkedIn stalked the person who’ll be doing the interview. This is called professionalism and you deserve to be treated with it, too.

If the person interviewing you is unreasonably late, unprepared, vague about the role or someone else entirely because your initial contact has suddenly become unavailable, think twice. Think of this as less a waste of your time than bullet-dodging insight into a company that plays fast and loose.

#2. They have iffy body language

Michelle Gibbings, author of Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work, says to pay extra attention if you’re being interviewed by your potential manager.

“You’ll be able to get an indication of their personality and demeanour by how they approach the interview. Are they warm and friendly or very formal? And do they make you feel relaxed and welcomed, or uncomfortable?”

#3. Their valued traits don’t match up with yours

It’s up to you to ask questions that help you understand how the leader operates and about the organisation’s culture rather than assuming your interviewer will volunteer this information in the natural course of the conversation.

Gately suggests asking the employer to describe the character traits and behaviours they value most in leaders. If they don’t match up with who you are and how you conduct yourself, perhaps it’s time to scarper.

#4. There’s no clear training or feedback

Tracey Montgomery, owner of Brisbane’s Pure Source Recruitment, says that a good employer can clearly articulate what they expect from you and how the team operates.

“Ask these sorts of questions: How will I know I’m doing well in the role? What support and feedback can I expect? A potential employer’s reluctance or stumbling in answering these questions can reveal a great deal about what goes on behind closed doors.”

Gibbings adds: “A good question to ask is: What are the biggest challenges your team/ function is currently facing? This helps you understand how their team is currently performing. It’s best to go in with your eyes wide open, and if the area is struggling, it’s good to know before you accept the role.

#5. You’re pressured into making a decision

Recruiter Alyssa Goldman of Learnvest points out that a new job is a major step in any career and no matter how well the interview has gone or how enticing the package being offered, you should never be pressured into making a decision on the spot.

If an offer is only ‘on the table’ right here, right now, reconsider. If you’re being placed under unreasonable pressure in the recruiting process, just wait until you’re on staff and your behaviour/actions have a bearing on the company’s bottom line. It’s the career equivalent of moving in with someone after just one date.

Has it been years since you’ve done an interview?

Here’s what to expect in 2020…

Adaptability is king

“An employee’s ability to adapt to change is very important,” says Montgomery. “Organisational change is the new normal and an employee needs to demonstrate their willingness — and ability — to adapt.”

Prepare at least one example of how you’ve done this well in the past. Other good skills to have examples of are problem-solving, emotional intelligence and collaboration.

Be cool with role-play

“Most interviews these days are behaviourally based, so the interviewer may ask you to pick a situation and clearly explain what happens, your role and the outcome,” says Gibbings.

“Organisations are often wanting to see how people operate in a team environment and so may get them to participate in a role-play or a scenario-based exercise to make the interview more ‘real’.”

Know your buzzwords

You don’t need to use them, but at least know the jargon in case it’s thrown around in your interview.

“The most common terms I hear include: ‘low-hanging fruit’ [used in a sales environment suggesting something is quick, easy and achievable], ‘disrupter’ [to challenge the status quo] and to ‘deep dive’ [meaning to discuss in detail or to brainstorm],” says Montgomery.

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