15 Employees Share Subtle Job Interview Red Flags That Indicate The Workplace Sucks

When applying for a new job, there are lots of things to check off your list. One of the most important? Make sure you don’t notice any subtle red flags that will end up making you regret your choice.

Most of the time, you won’t show up for an interview and get screamed at. And you won’t necessarily witness the person you’re interviewing with harassing a current employee. But there are little things that sometimes get lost in jargon-filled language or a quick side-eye from one interviewer to the other.

On Reddit, folks are sharing the subtle red flags they encountered during a job interview that informed them that working at that place would be a total disaster.

1. If the “overtime policy” is this:

“‘Well, the overtime isn’t mandatory, but most folks stick around after hours most days.’ Spoilers: The overtime is mandatory.” — IM_OK_AMA

2. If the interviewer is trash-talking:

“Was interviewed by a Senior programmer and the department head. The department head was continuously making condescending remarks towards the other interviewer. Poor guy just sounded broken. Hope he’s somewhere else now.” — khanman504

3. If they ask you to sign a mystery doc like this:

“I was once part of a group onboarding for an IT job. They handed us all the one-page new hire ‘contract’ and everyone except me signed immediately. When I read the paperwork, I discovered we were signing a mystery document. Clauses included, ‘I agree to abide by the personal search and seizure security policy (attached).’ Without other pages, there was no way to determine what I was agreeing to. I kept requesting more and more pages until the HR drone said, ‘ok, I guess [me] is just determined to hold everyone up. We will handle you separately if you’re struggling so much.’ After I walked out and drove home, I called the hiring manager to apologize for not taking the job. He informed me that HR reported I had walked out after refusing to be drug tested.” — ManiacDan

4.  If they want you to breach your own non-solicit clause…

“When they ask out of nowhere what clients can you bring with you.” — Space2345

5. If they want you to work for free…

“Once an interviewer straight up asked me if I had any trouble working for free on weekends… I told them my free time is more valuable than anything and that the only way that I would work a weekend is if they are paying me and if I felt like working a weekend. She got really mad at me and ended the interview right away. Biggest red flag I’ve ever seen because they didn’t even try to hide it.” — lempiraholio

6. If they’re a little too honest in answering your questions…

“This actually happened to me:

Interviewer: Do you have any questions for us?

Me: what is a challenge this department has recently faced?

Interviewer: Job security.” — DragonsLoooveTacos

7. A lot of job applications doesn’t necessarily mean the job is a good one…

“My favorite is ‘there’s a lot of people waiting in line to work here, count yourself lucky.’ Huge red flag.” — Original_Resist_4570

8. “Just sign already!”

“When you are signing all the forms they give you and you are taking your time to read over every document so that you can fully understand what you are getting into and people come in and start telling you that you don’t need to read this and that just sign here and so on.” — Saxon_Shields69

9. If they don’t know what they want you to do…

“Jobs where the expectations of the position aren’t clear. The person hiring you should be able to give a clear idea of your responsibilities are day to day in a practical way. It shows that the company understands what it wants out of the position. I’ve worked a couple positions that had a really hard time figuring out who was supposed to do what that lead to a lot of confusion and both of them had this in the interviews. If the company you’re working for can’t define what success in that position looks like you won’t be able to either.” — Xerodo

10.  “Wearing many hats”

“I didn’t know it at the time, but ‘you’ll be wearing many hats’ was a sign that they were going to give me the work of four positions and the wage of one. I didn’t last a year there before I left and now I won’t even finish reading job ads that include that line.” — Couch_slug


11. When they don’t even bother to show up for the interview…

“I once showed up for an interview and the manager wasn’t there that day. No one called me to let me know. The assistant manager was not apologetic for the scheduling issue at all. She was literally just like ‘oh, she’s not here today’ in a tone that suggested I should somehow already know that. She said they would call me to reschedule some time the next week. I told her I was currently unavailable M-W but could come in any time Th-F. She said if I couldn’t make time for the interview, I probably wouldn’t be a good fit. I said okay, and went on to my other interviews and ending up working elsewhere. You’d think that would be the end of it, but both the manager and the assistant manager badmouthed me to a few other people in the industry, including one of my friends. Hello? I made time for an interview. You disrespected me by not calling me to let me know it was canceled. I gave you the times I was available to reschedule, and that was disrespectful somehow?” — 53raptor

12.  Please pimp our company for us, for free, and pay us for it, thanks!

“You are required to wear clothing that has the company logo. You must purchase it yourself. From the company.” — accidentpronehiker

13. The cartoons hanging on the walls may have a hidden meaning…

“At my last place of work, the person interviewing me had a printed cartoon on their wall of someone who looked like a bomb had blown up in their face, with the caption ‘I spoke with “boss’ name” about it…I guess we’re still doing it.’ That wasn’t subtle at all, but I ignored it. The boss was an absolute tyrant who wouldn’t listen to her staff, consider changing her mind about anything, or let people do the work they were best suited to do. She wouldn’t show up for weeks at a time. The job itself was decent, but she was the worst boss I’ve ever had.” — Posaunne

14. “Oh, I didn’t think you’d show!”

“If they seem too relieved that someone actually showed up for the interview.” — Toadwave_

15. The city you work in is not technically part of the job.

“When you ask, ‘what do you like about working here’ and the interviewer talks about the location of the job (‘it’s a great place to live!’) instead of the actual job.” — beard_lover


Patricia Grisafi

Patricia Grisafi, PhD, is a freelance writer and educator. Her work has appeared in Salon, Vice, Bitch, Bustle, Broadly, The Establishment, and elsewhere. She is passionate about pit bull rescue, cursed objects, and designer sunglasses.

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