Recruitment process red flags

Recruitment Process: 10 Red Flags To Watch Out For





You’ve edited your resume template and applied for your dream job … and… success! – you were contacted by the company representative and will continue the candidate recruitment process. Having set your career goals, learned how to read a job description and what is expected form you as the candidate, you may also be interested to learn what to watch out for, keeping in mind these recruitment red flags.

Delayed communication with the recruiting team
Chaotic interview scheduling
Recruitment process ghost interviewers
Company information not widely available
Recruitment process & chaotic interview day
Unprepared interviewer for your career goals
Recruitment process vague and unclear answers
High employee turnover in the team
Inappropriate, rude, or offensive questioning
Compromising your career goals

As you move forward and attend job interviews, you usually focus on presenting yourself from the best perspective to your potential future employer. Add to it high level of stress which accompanies every interview, and you might easily miss a couple of important clues. These are clues indicating that the company is not as good as it may initially seem.

Think rationally and objectively about your potential future employer and take your time to evaluate them. There are some warning signs that indicate there could be an issue with the job and/or the employer.

In this series we will share with you the 10 most common recruitment red flags to watch out for during a candidate recruitment process. They should not be considered a definite deal-breaker, however, if you do notice many of them overlapping and they do not feel right for you, you may want to reconsider if the organization is the right one for you.

Delayed communication with the recruiting team

career goals and selection of tomorrow

Who among us has not experienced this? You applied for a job and the company contacts you weeks after. In an even ‘better’ scenario, once contacted and invited to an interview, you wait for days to get the interview confirmed and scheduled. Can these situations be considered recruitment red flags, in the recruitment process?

There can be multiple reasons why the communication with the recruiting team is delayed:

  • There’s no clarity on the scope of the role leading to a prolonged preselection of suitable candidates.
  • The recruiters are overloaded and have too many projects to juggle at the same time.
  • The recruitment process is not streamlined and chaotic, leading to a lengthy completion of tasks.

Either way, such delayed communication and waiting time are not a good practice to have with the candidates. If this is your first opportunity for questions to ask the interviewer, you have the right to assume that that’s what the life in the company looks like. Hence, don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter what the reason for such a lengthy process is as it might help you understand the company practices, and decide if it’s something you want to pursue.

Chaotic interview scheduling

As much as a one-time interview cancellation or rescheduling is fully understandable, when rescheduling happens continuously, it deserves to be considered a candidate recruitment red flag.

Rescheduling and interview can have multiple reasons. It could happen that the interviewer has an unexpected appointment they must attend, need to unexpectedly travel for business or have a personal matter they need to arrange. A one-time situation can happen to anyone in any context and should be fully understandable.

The issue starts when the rescheduling happens multiple times (especially on a short notice!). This could come across that the hiring company has little regard to how these changes impact your schedule, both professional and personal. It might also indicate that the expectation of constant availability is a way of working in the organization, and so it is worth investigating a bit once your interviews take place, as it can be considered a recruitment red flag.

Don’t be afraid to ask the recruiter and the hiring manager about the working hours. Potential expected overtime in the position is also an indicated question. You might also ask the interviewers what do they like most and least in the company and their job, or what do they consider challenging in their roles. Having this two-way conversation should shed more light on the working culture and conditions which you might be doubtful of, and clarify if the organization is the right fit for you.

Recruitment process ghost interviewers

While hunting for a new job you have most likely experienced what we call, ‘ghost interviewers’. You are at the point when the interviews are scheduled, however you still lack clarity as to who are the interviews going to be with. You receive a list of times and names, however no additional information on what are those names doing in the company or how will they connect with the role that you are considered for.

For many of us these may not be considered major candidate recruitment process red flags, and in fact, they are not. However, in situations when you as a candidate need to prepare for a number of interviews (as stressful as it is already), with various individuals playing very different roles in the company, it is important you receive such information in advance.

You should know if your interviewer is your future line manager, the manager’s supervisor or a stakeholder. Receiving such information indicates that the company wants to set you for success right form the start. This will allow you to have a proper preparation of the topics or questions you’d like to ask each individual. Feel free to ask your recruiter to share it with you.

Company information not widely available

recruitment process and selection contacts

As you may recall form one of our previous fact-sheets, we strongly encourage you to do a company evaluation prior to applying to a job advertisement, aligned to your career goals. We are aware, however, that for most candidates, it is not always the case. Quite often the first detailed company research takes place when they are preparing for interview questions and thus, are missing out important recruitment red flags.

You begin your research and it soon turns out that the company website is under construction. You continue digging and it turns out that you struggle to find any other source of company information. Combine it with a couple of negative reviews posted on a professional social media site and you got yourself a red flag.

In today’s digital world, sharing content online seems almost a must for all types of organizations. Starting with governmental or non-profit institutions and finishing with private start-ups, medium- and large size companies. A transparent and reputable company typically shares a lot of insights related to their activities, values, accomplishments. They are sensitive to the social responsibility activities and appear in the related news.

The more difficult it is to find company information online, the more focus you should put on that during your candidate recruitment journey. Ask your interviewers questions about the company history, activity and company culture. The more information you gather, the more conscious decision you’ll be able to make.

Recruitment process & chaotic interview day

You’ve been in touch with the company recruiter and were able to schedule the interviews. The agreed time comes and you announce yourself, however no one heard of you visiting the office that day. The search begins as you share the name of the company representative you were in touch with, previously. Here is our recruitment red flag!

After moments of uncertainty, someone shows up and escorts you to the interview room, and the wait begins. The interviewer shows up late and the interview starts… Alternatively, another, unplanned interviewer shows up as the person who was originally scheduled was not available at that time…

Unfortunately, these situations still happen today and if you’ve experienced it. You have all rights to question if the company is the right place for you and your career goals. A reputable organization considers candidate experience one of their core talent acquisition values. They should not put the candidates through such situations.

There may be multiple reasons for such practices to take place.

  • The internal communication is very chaotic.
  • Correct split of processes and responsibilities.
  • Recruitment process human error.

Either way, such situation would not be acceptable during a business or client meeting. It deserves to be highly questionable in the candidate recruitment context as well.

Unprepared interviewer for your career goals

You are attending your scheduled interview, however the interviewer doesn’t have much knowledge about your professional profile. It appears they did not get a chance to review your resume prior to the meeting. Possibly they were not briefed about the outcomes of your earlier screening interviews or the conversation seems rather reactive and chaotic because specific questions aren’t asked.

There are a couple of concerns related to such scenario:

  1. Disorganized interviewer.
  2. Lacks respect and does not care to invest time to learn about your career goals and aspirations.
  3. Has too much to deal with in their daily job and lacks time for a thorough preparation.

What this means to you as a candidate is that there might be an issue with the company culture. An example could be the inability to build respectful relations among the team members or that there’s unrealistic workload. Additionally, a chaotic interview might result in an inappropriate assessment of the candidate. Why? Because the interviewer is on a ‘freestyle’ mode rather than evaluating the actual skills on your resume and competencies. Not giving the candidate a chance to present those skills and potentially putting them in disadvantage is definitely a recruitment red flag.

Recruitment process vague and unclear answers

candidate recruitment and selection yes no

As much as the interviewer expects detailed and transparent answers form your side, you as the candidate deserve the same. If a situation happens that your interviewer is avoiding or giving vague answers to some of your questions, you can consider them recruitment red flags.

There are, of course, cases where the interviewer cannot disclose confidential company information. For example, the release of a new product down the company’s pipeline. Another example is an ongoing transformation which is a company internal matter.

However, if your interviewer gets nervous or avoids giving you clear and straightforward answers to questions related to company culture, team structure, organizational leadership style, rotation among the team members or the job itself, that’s a sign that these aspects of the employment are probably not the best ones. You might want to reconsider it as a recruitment red flag and if the organization is the right place for you. At the end of the day you don’t want to get a job only to be looking for a new one in a couple of months.

High employee turnover in the team

During the interview you were able to ask your questions and it turned out that the employee turnover within the team is quite high. The interviewer informed you that the job you’re applying for is open because another colleague is leaving, and that the majority of your potential new team are quite new as well.

There are exceptional cases where such situation would not raise concerns. However, if the team have been around for quite some time, and still the majority of its members are quite new, it might be a sign of a common discontent.

People stay in a job that makes them satisfied and happy. We look for satisfactory tasks and a healthy work environment. Learning about high people turnover is something concerning. It is definitely worth investigating further, on what specifically were the reasons for those movements and discontent.

Inappropriate, rude, or offensive questioning

It goes without saying that every single workplace should provide a diverse, inclusive and discrimination-free working environment. If during your recruitment process you experience any type of inappropriate, rude or offensive behavior, feel fully entitled, and even obliged, to walk away from such an organization and recruitment process. It goes without saying that these are recruitment red flags.

Any questions related to your personal matters, e.g. family planning, religious or political affiliations, gender identity, sexual orientation are unacceptable and should never be asked in the candidate recruitment process. Not to say they shouldn’t impact your career goals. Any inappropriate or disrespectful comments related to your physical appearance, race or ethnicity, age, profession, family status are also considered a subject of discrimination. In many countries they are also illegal and must never take place in professional and personal life.

If you experience this type of behaviors in your recruitment journey, it is not only a candidate recruitment red flag. It is a no-go, no matter how much you need the job. One thing is that the working environment in such organization is clearly toxic and encourages inappropriate and discriminatory behaviors. Another thing is that accepting such behavior is a silent consent for their continuation, hence keeping those unacceptable habits alive.

Compromising your career goals

career goals and recruitment red flags

While looking for a new job you most likely have a career plan in mind. After all, you’ve been working on your hard and soft skills your whole life. You know exactly what you do and do not enjoy doing, and what your career goals are.

Do not make a rush decision accepting or declining the offer, if during your job hunt you are offered a position that you are not entirely convinced about. When joining a new organization, ideally we want to stay in it long-term. Focusing on our personal and professional development should be the plan. Career decision are life-impacting decisions and should not be taken lightly. If you are in doubt either of the company, take a step back and analyze your priorities.

Make a list of five critical aspects your future job must have. These can include:

  • Core responsibilities you want to take on.
  • Technical skills you want to acquire.
  • Specific development items you are looking for.
  • Flexible working arrangements.
  • Travelling for business.

Think of what can you live without, and what are the absolute musts that will keep you motivated. It will keep you away from unsatisfactory opportunities!


Recommended articles:

Recruiter Expectations And How To Manage Them
Questions To Ask The Interviewer For A Proper Assessment
Selection Process: What To Expect And Complete Guide
Job Application Process: Steps To Follow For An Easier Approach
How To Read A Job Description

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