A businesswoman waving a huge red flag.
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6 red flags to look out for during a job interview

20 Feb 2023

From simple personality clashes to something more serious like inappropriate behaviour, here are some red flags to watch out for during job interviews.

If you’re able to tell at a very early stage in the recruitment process that a job, boss, company – or all three – aren’t a good fit for you, you should consider listening to that instinct.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to pick and choose who hires them. If you are in a position to be discerning then don’t be afraid to decline a job if you feel like it’s not for you. Ignoring your own misgivings will only lead to you being miserable and frustrated at work in the long run.

And remember, if an interviewer or a company gives a bad impression during a job interview, what are they going to be like six months down the line?

If you’re due a job interview in the next while and you want to know what red flags to look out for, read on.

Here is a list of six red flags to look out for when you’re doing a job interview.


If you’re doing an in-person job interview with an interviewer at an office, chances are you’re going to meet them in a reception area. You might see how they interact with staff. Do they thank the secretary or security staff when they point out that you’re there waiting for them? Do their colleagues that you pass by on the way to the interview room have a quick smile for them? Or is there a frosty atmosphere in the office?

If there is more than one person interviewing you, are they polite and respectful of each other’s opinions or is it more like a barrage of interruptions with you struggling to get a word in edgeways?

Unreasonable demands

They want your Junior Cert results from 2002; your commitment to a series of never-ending interviews; your ever-lasting devotion; and your ability to recite the first thousand digits of pi.

Don’t jump through proverbial hoops for demanding employers who make outlandish demands like that. They’re only taking advantage of how much you need a job, which is a cynical and mean thing to do. It shows a lack of respect for workers.

And whatever you do don’t consent to do unpaid work or “projects” for them as part of the interview process. Unscrupulous employers will steal your ideas without hiring you in the end or paying you appropriately.

Inappropriate behaviour

Inappropriate behaviour is more severe than rudeness or a lack of professionalism. If an interviewer is making you feel unsafe, is harassing you, or making personal comments about anything other than your CV, you have grounds to walk away.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism… all of these are things that people can experience during an interview. And this kind of treatment is a massive red flag that an employer is still stuck in the Stone Age.


There’s nothing more frustrating than someone who keeps cancelling meetings or forgetting to show up. If you’re showing that you want the job by arriving prepared and ready to hear about the role and explain how you’d be a good fit, but your prospective interviewer is AWOL and oblivious to the fact you’re waiting for them, it might be time to give up and look for another job. Don’t waste your valuable job-hunting time on a company that clearly doesn’t respect you to begin with.


Even if your interviewer is a delight and the company culture is great, if they can’t explain to you exactly what your role will be, that’s a bit of a worry. Yes, job descriptions can change over time and most employers will include some wriggle room in this regard in the job description. However, if they flat out will not tell you what the job entails beyond a few buzzwords you should politely insist they tell you what is expected of you. Otherwise it looks like they’re making it up as they go along, which isn’t a vote of confidence is it?

Personality clashes

Personality clashes do happen from time to time. It’s best to recognise that and move on if you find that you don’t gel with the interviewer or the company. Of course, you’re not going to be the best of friends but if you leave an interview thinking: this is not the right job for me, then it’s probably a sign you’d be happier elsewhere.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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