Looking for Red Flags About Your Future Employer During the Interview

Committing to a job change can be an emotional rollercoaster. It may have been a long time since you looked for a new position or attended an interview. When you get to the point that you’re actually going through the process of applying and interviewing, you hope that it will be a positive experience. Yet the process itself can tell you a lot about a company’s employer brand and even raise red flags that can keep you from making a poor career move. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself along the way:

How many hoops do you have to jump through during the interviewing process? One of the biggest factors that contributes to whether you perceive an employer brand as positive or negative is the experience you have when applying for a job. You won’t come away with a good lasting impression if the application process is dated and time-consuming, if you didn’t get a timely acknowledgement that your application was received or if you feel you were treated unfairly during the interview. Any of these scenarios may lead you to the conclusion that this may not be a great company to work for, based on how they treat people.

What kind of attitude does the interviewer convey? Qualities that are valued in the company are reflected during the interview through tone of voice and even phrases used. Pay attention to these subtle insights to determine whether the interviewer is interested in connecting with you on a human level as this is a good indicator of how the company cares for its people. You are entitled to be treated with respect and to feel that you would be valued if you are hired. Also of importance is the ability of interviewers to keep their own personal opinions, bias or prejudices out of the interview–a failure to do so is a serious red flag that should put you on alert.

Are you given a chance to showcase your abilities? A good interview is one that skillfully evaluates competencies that are needed for the job. It poses situation-based questions, asks for plenty of examples and leaves room for you to speak. You will be able to determine whether the employer prepared in advance, did the research and constructed questions that allowed for a clear understanding of your experience and qualifications. You should be left with such a great experience that you are prompted to promote the employer brand through word of mouth and to make good recommendations on social media. Be wary if you are not treated like a potential ambassador for the brand at all stages of the recruitment process.

Does the company’s employer brand align with your values? According to the 2018 MRINetwork Reputation Management Study, candidates are very clear about factors that influence their perception of employer brand. Emphasis on work-life balance and advancement opportunities, for example, were highly ranked, at 47 and 40 percent respectively. Use the interview to supplement your research into whether the company is employee-centric in its policies and if it is well-positioned for the future as these attributes translate into security and career progression.

Did you get meaningful feedback after the interview? This is an area where many companies fail to follow through. They know they should give feedback and yet they often don’t. That tells you something immediately about their treatment of people, not only during interviews but in their day-to-day management style. Other forward-thinking companies now make a special effort to gather insights into what candidates think about their recruitment process, particularly their thoughts and feelings post-feedback. This is a good reflection that the company cares about understanding the positive–or negative–impacts that are shaping their employer brand reputation.

One of the most important things you want to determine as you interview for a new position is whether the company’s employees are happy and fulfilled with what they’re doing and if they are treated well. Review promotional videos, blog posts and other social media outlets that are built around real-life testimonials from current employees. The last thing you want to happen is to find out that you’ve gone to work for a company that doesn’t align with your values or that in practice is quite different from what you were led to expect. Use the interview process to make sure that the company is a place that top talent want to be a part of and that the company backs up its words with action, putting their people first.