15 Red Flags That You’re Interviewing at a Poorly Run Company

Look for these red flags that could be a sign you shouldn’t accept an offer from an organization.
Updated Sept. 29, 2023
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It can be exciting to get an interview for a new job. You might start to dream of landing a better-paying job that will help you lower your financial stress.

But before you become swept up in that possibility, keep your eyes open for signs that the company might not be a good fit.

Watch for the following red flags that might suggest you are interviewing with a poorly run company.

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The job description is vague

fizkes/Adobe woman sits on sofa sorts out household bills

Pay attention to the interview process and make sure you ask questions about what will be required for the job. This could be a good way to understand the financial fitness of the company as well. 

It might be a red flag if the company gives you vague responses about what you’ll actually be doing instead of offering more concrete guidelines.

They’re cagey about salary and benefits

relif/Adobe employee benefits concept

Some companies might not include salary guidelines or a list of benefits in their job description. So, it’s important to ask questions about compensation and benefits during the interview.

If they continue to be cagey and don’t answer your questions directly — especially about salary — it might indicate the company doesn’t have its act together.

There are plenty of openings

Liubomir/Adobe woman reading bad news on phone

Initially, you might have thought you got lucky by snagging an interview with this company. However, keep looking at the company’s job search page even after you are invited to interview.

It can be a bad sign if the company keeps adding new job postings, especially for positions similar to the role you are seeking.

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They won’t share the typical hours for the job

fizkes/Adobe african girl surprised with laptop problems

Ask questions during the interview process about what the company expects a typical day to look like, including which days you’ll be working.

Hours and days can vary from company to company, so you want to know if you will be working weekends or extended hours. Be wary of a company that won’t give you specifics.

You can’t talk to your future manager

fizkes/Adobe job applicant sitting at company hall

It’s typical for job seekers to go through human resources instead of applying directly to the manager they’ll be working with. However, you should still be allowed to talk to that manager during the interview process.

It is not a good sign if you cannot get an idea of what a potential manager does and what it would be like to work for them.

The process is disorganized

Jadon Bester/peopleimages.com/Adobe businessman working on a project

Once you have received an invitation to interview, there might be a little back-and-forth or a delay along the way. 

However, repeated signs of disorganization throughout the process can indicate that the company is a mess internally. If you experience disorganization at this level, you can expect more of it when you start working.

It’s taking too long

fizkes/Adobe Man looking at laptop

Logistics and other issues can come up between the time your resume is accepted and when you are offered the job.

Be wary, though, if weeks go by and you’re still waiting to set up a second interview. Or the company keeps saying it needs to put some more pieces in place before moving forward.

The longer it takes, the more it might indicate this is not the best company to work for.

It’s not the job you applied for

kathayut/Adobe job description paper in office

Perhaps you have specific talents and want to get a certain position in a company. If so, it can be frustrating to get to the interview and find out the company wants to consider you for a different role.

Such a “bait-and-switch” might suggest that more sleight of hand is in store if you take a job with the company.

The office is a mess

thodonal/Adobe messy and cluttered desk

In-person interviews can be a good way for the company to show itself off to prospective employees with a nice lobby or clean office space.

A messy office with papers and trash thrown around or a working space that hasn’t been maintained properly can be a sign that the company is also a figurative mess.

Feel free to judge a book by its cover in this case, especially if you pick up on other bad signs.

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There are too many questions about your last job

offsuperphoto/Adobe senior employer talking about works

It’s important to talk about your experience in previous positions. Perhaps you have projects you’re proud of or goals that you were able to achieve on your own or as a member of a successful team.

But be careful not to divulge too much information. Some companies might call you in under the guise of an interview simply to get more detailed information about how much your current company pays you, what its processes are, or other information about a competitor.

There are lots of tests

Miljan Živković/Adobe woman studies in front of the laptop

It can be typical for an employer to put you through a practice test to gauge your knowledge.

But remember that there is a line between being asked to take a practical test and being asked to work for free. If you feel like you’re being taken advantage of, consider that a major red flag.

There’s no promotional track

highwaystarz/Adobe Unhappy woman with happy colleagues

When you’re applying for a job, it’s not just about that particular position, but also positions you can move to later.

Ask about the promotional track. You also may want to ask where the current position holder is moving to if that person is staying within the company.

If there’s no vision for what’s next for the position, the role might not be right for you.

There are no goals

Drazen/Adobe happy marketing team working on a new business project discussing different ideas.

Ask about how the company sees your role in its future. Do your managers have specific goals they want you to meet in the position, or specific things they want you to achieve?

If they cannot pinpoint such specific goals, consider it a red flag.

The interviewers are disrespectful

Oleksandr/Adobe Irritated angry young businesslady

An interviewer should be prompt for the appointment and not make you wait long to start the interview. They should also be respectful of the work you’ve done and your education.

In short, they should be respectful of you and your time during the entire process.

If interviewers don’t respect you as a potential employee, consider it a red flag that they also won’t respect you when you’re an actual employee.

They want you to start now

DimaBerlin/Adobe Stressed woman on phone

It’s obviously a good sign to get an offer from a company after you’ve gone through the interview process.

But the company should also understand that you need to give notice to your current employer and have some time to wind down your responsibilities before moving on.

Putting pressure on you to quit your current job and move over to them now may be a red flag that they are desperate for your help, or just need a warm body to fill a role.

Bottom line

terovesalainen/Adobe frustration in job search

Changing jobs can be a good option if you’re looking for something new or want to make more money so you get ahead financially.

However, when you interview, keep an eye out for red flags that indicate the company is poorly run. It’s important to find a position with a stable company that can help you advance your career.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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