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What to watch out for in your next job interview


Do you work or have you worked in a toxic company? Know someone who works in a toxic workplace? Well, perhaps you or they did not spot the red flags at the job interview, which could have prevented from taking the job offer in the first place. Albeit, it is not always easy to spot those red flags, we hope this blog will allow you to identify some of them early enough to prevent you from walking into the wrong company. If you are unsure what a toxic workplace is, then read our blog: 22 Types Of Work Place Bullying Explained.

The first thing you need to remember is that a job interview is a two way street; you are also interviewing the company. So do not be afraid to ask questions. Usually your chance to ask questions is left until the end of the interview process, however, wherever it feels natural, allowing the conversation to flow, you can ask questions during the entire interview itself. For example, if you are asked a scenario based question, such as: “Can you tell me a time where you had conflict with a manager, what did you do?” you can answer the question and then ask your own, such as “is there conflict between management and employees often in the organisation?” Ok, here is where I feel you can do a mic drop! Because boom! You just picked up a potential red flag. Now what? Now watch the hiring managers body language, how quickly and efficiently they answer, and of course pay attention to the answer itself. This can alert you to a very clear toxic work environment, such as bullying from management.

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As a hiring manager, I would only ask scenario-based questions that one: Relate to the role itself, and two: relate to the workplace. I would never ask a hypothetical question that has nothing to do with the role or company. For instance, I know the role itself can have multiple projects, so I will ask scenarios where the candidate has to priorities and meet multiple deadlines. However, perhaps I also know that the previous candidate was always late to work, so to avoid the same issue with a new employee, I would ask about the interviewee’s punctuality. So far, no red flags. But let’s say I also know the manager they will report to is unprofessional, and I want to see how they can work with and deal with this kind of management style – I would have to attempt to sniff this out as subtly as possible and would typically use a scenario based question to do so. Most candidates do not know this process and simply feel it is a random question that covers all grounds to see what kind of person the candidate is, rather than subtly telling the interviewee what kind of role and company they are.

However, this is not the only sign you should be looking out for. Here are a few more to consider:

  • The description of the role does not match the job duties you are told at interview.


  • You are asked if you are comfortable to do other duties outside of the role you are interviewing for – for example, you are interviewing for an Administration position but asked if you can also do Sales on the side.


  • The interviewer makes you wait for close to an hour before meeting with you.
  • You are asked very personal questions that have nothing to do with the role itself.


  • The interviewer cannot give you a straight answer or deflects the question when asked about company turnover and staff culture.


  • When you are given a real honest and scary description about the role, for example you are told you will need to work 60+ hours a week, overtime is mandatory and personal leave is frowned upon.

Reading a somewhat amusing article – ‘30 Times Folks Realized They Didn’t Want To Get The Job While They Were Being Interviewed For The Position, As Shared Online’, published by, we decided to share a few of these stories here to help you identify what can be an absolute red flag.

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Candidate wrote:

C: “and what is the starting wage for this job?

E: “Does it matter?”


Of course it matters, people work for money, they have hobbies for pleasure, but a job is there to pay bills, put food on the table and support a family. Naturally we would love a job we enjoy doing as well, but it is not the only driving force. So if a company is expecting you to work for the joy of working and not worry about salary, makes us think they are underpaying and overworking.

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Candidate wrote:

The interview was uneventful, except for at the very end, when he asked: “is there anything I need to know about you now, before you start, that would be a problem if it came out later?”

Me entirely confused: “like what?”

“Oh, I don’t know, if you have a criminal record for example, or if you’re gay”

Ok, so the criminal record is fair enough, but gay? This is personal, has nothing to do with the job and shows a very homophobic culture…or at least a homophobic hiring manager. Red flag!

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Candidate wrote:

I tried getting a job as a telemarketer once. The interviewer had me go into another room and call her, and she would pretend to be a person I’m trying to get money from. I started into the script, and she said “oh, but I’m just a poor college student with no money!”

Even though I knew she was just pretending, I still felt terrible. I knew that I could never do that work in real life…

This is more of an example of a personal red flag rather than a company one. If you do not agree with what is being as from you; you feel like it is affecting your personal views and values, then you will find the job taking down your mental health. It is best to avoid even entertaining roles like this from the start. We all know how a role like this will end – with you leaving 6 months down the line, feeling like half a person.

If you need any assistance with your job interview and to practice those interview questions, then download your free Understanding Interview Questions guide. This guide will help you prep for your very next job interview and it is all yours today.

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