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Lucy Oleschuk
Level 31

How to Avoid the Wrong Company? Top 7 Red Flags to Take into Account During the Interview Process

Published in the Random group
According to the recent CareerBuilder survey, two-thirds of workers realize that the landed job isn't a good fit within a year, with half quitting during the first six months. Of course, embarking on a career as a Java developer is an exciting journey, but landing in the wrong company can quickly turn that excitement into disappointment. Your job satisfaction, growth potential, and work-life balance can all hinge on choosing a suitable workplace. In this article, you'll explore seven warning signs that may indicate you're about to join the toxic workspace and how to spot these red flags during the interview process. Don't let a poor fit derail your career! How to Avoid the Wrong Company? Top 7 Red Flags to Take into Account During the Interview Process - 1

"Pre" Red Flag

Is it possible to identify a bad company without going to the interview? Probably, yes. If the company constantly reschedules and ghosts you in-between interviews, it doesn't value your time even before you're hired. So, the chances are, they won't respect your time once you become their employee. Sure, an interview may need to be rescheduled for serious reasons, but when it happens multiple times, and you're ghosted for months, this indicates that the company is too disorganized. "They don't prioritize the people or the placement. They are not cognizant of the war for talent. If things are scattered, and they're all over the place, or they're disorganized, it's absolutely a red flag." — Caroline Stokes, an executive coach and leadership strategist.

Red Flag #1. Disrespectful Attitude to Others

It's okay if a company has a bit of natural tension or frustration between some departments. Yet, it's also an excellent idea to pay attention to how the interviewer interacts with passing colleagues during your interview. Consider if their communication style aligns with the type of working environment you're looking for. Also, take into account how the interviewer speaks about others. For example, if the interviewer responds by badmouthing the former employees, trust that their disrespectful attitude may eventually trickle down to you. Take care of your psychological safety beforehand and avoid a company like that.

Red Flag #2. Conflict of Values

If your values mismatch, this is a big red flag. We recommend you go through the values before you start the interview process. Prepare questions that will help you assess the company's culture, your most important values, and the ways you'll be able to express these values on the potential job. For example, if you appreciate the value of autonomy, you may ask your interviewer questions like, "Which decisions do you expect to be made exclusively by me? Which decisions need to be escalated to the team leader?"

Red Flag #3. Lack of Clarity in Answers (Or, instead, the Vague Perfect Answers)

You should also pay attention to how clear and precise answers you get from your interviewer. These may be a warning sign if the answers are general and blurry. On the other hand, if the interviewer responds with suspiciously perfect answers, it may be a red flag too. There are no perfect jobs, so don't assume the potential job can be as perfect as their promises. Try to dig a little deeper and ask follow-up questions to gauge the truth behind the responses.

Red Flag #4. Unclear Promises and Expectations

Be aware that if the company doesn't clearly state its expectations for the role, this may be a sign that it's not interested in finding the best candidate for the post. Professional employers already know that it's vital to provide clear expectations if they want to find the right candidate who understands the role and can make an informed decision. Simply put, when you see an unclear or incomplete job description, this could be a sign that the employer isn't taking the hiring process seriously. Hence, the company isn't as professional and reliable as it might seem at first glance. On the other hand, if the job description is quite comprehensive, but the interviewing process is very different from the initial job description, this is a big no-no too.

Red Flag #5. They Ask You to Do What You're not Intended to Do

If you're given assignments you were not expecting when preparing for the interview, that should also call for suspicion. It may be a sign that you're stepping into a role that differs from the job description. Sure, sometimes we need to be flexible, but if you see that the interviewer goes overboard in the tasks they give to you, this may be a red flag too. Note that you may be entering a role with uncertain expectations, which means it'll be harder for you to excel at your new job post if you accept this offering.

Red Flag #6. Confusing Questions and Inappropriate Comments

There is no denying that your ultimate goal is to impress the hiring manager during an interview. However, as we already mentioned, the interview is a two-way process, so once you feel that you're asked offensive questions regarding sexism, racism, ethnicity, ageism, or others, it's an obvious red flag. When the interviewer makes inappropriate remarks, this is also a bad sign. Conversely, the lack of questions and comments isn't good either. If the interviewer remains almost entirely silent, this may indicate that the company doesn't care to learn more about you. The lack of interest in your skills indicates that the company doesn't seek the right candidate.

Red Flag #7. Unwillingness to Communicate and Negotiate

Again, a job interview is a two-way street, and it's normal if you want to ask insightful questions. But if you feel that the interviewer is annoyed or defensive about your questions, it's a warning sign too. This might indicate that the company doesn't value your thoughts and concerns. Moreover, if you're asking questions about salary, benefits, and other terms of the position and the employer is unwilling to negotiate them, it could be a sign that the company isn't going to invest in the position. Ideally, employers should be open to discussing every aspect of the job post to find an agreement that would work for both parties.

"Post" Red Flag

Even if you feel that the interview was relatively smooth but the company rushes you to make an immediate decision afterward, you should think twice about the job you're signing up for. Anyway, you shouldn't be pressured to make a super-quick decision. You should be able to evaluate the job offer, analyze the interview process, and make a really informed decision before saying "yes." Bonus tip: The subtle red flags to look for in a seemingly good company by Nathaniel Schier, technologist, engineer at Eventbrite, and previously co-founder at Sidebench.
  • High turnover. Nathaniel recommends reading reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed to understand why there is a vacancy for this specific role. He also suggests checking whether the same jobs are always posted on the company's website and looking at the company's LinkedIn profile to see how long people stay, etc.
  • Unenthusiastic interviewers. Ask your interviewers what they like about the company, its challenges, what they would like to change, etc. When they have reasonable (and hopefully positive) answers, you can learn valuable things about the company you will join. But if you learn not-so-good secrets in the process, that is likely a red flag too.
  • Inadequate response to critique. No, Nathaniel doesn't suggest slamming the company. However, if you have a thoughtful/helpful critique of something (for example, the company's product, website, etc.) and the interviewers react negatively, that's probably a place to avoid. This means the company is unwilling to improve and doesn't value input.
  • Interest in only fit from their perspective. A good employer should be interested not only in your skills but in your personal goals as well. This way, the company can ensure you'll excel and enjoy the position.
As mentioned, an interview is a two-way process, so don't fear to ask questions too. Here are the things CodeGym graduates recommend clarifying during the interview:
  • How long did the previous employee work, and where did they move or go?
  • Find out the overall turnover rate.
  • What should be done to get a salary increase?
  • What skills are needed for advancement?
  • How far can an employee grow to become a mid-level or senior-level professional?
  • Does the company have individual development plans, and how does growth happen within the company? Are there any certifications?


Overall, job interviews can not only help you show your skills but also get to know more about a potential company and learn more about a job opportunity. In software development, the right company can be your launchpad to success, while the wrong one can be a quicksand pit of frustration. So, paying attention to the warning signs during the interview is crucial. Recognizing these red flags early can save you from a mismatched professional partnership and help you pave the way for a fulfilling and rewarding career. Remember, your talent deserves a nurturing and supportive environment. By staying vigilant, you can navigate the job market and secure a role in a company that truly values your skills and aspirations.