You know about which red-flag interview questions to watch out for, including the questions that are downright illegal to be asked. But sometimes, what an interviewer doesn’t ask you can be just as revealing, whether the absence of these questions is speaking to discrimination in the interview or simply the reality that you aren’t getting the job.
The next time you’re interviewing, pay attention to whether the following 11 questions and statements are missing from the conversation.
1. “Here are some of the great things about the role.”
If the interview is going well, the hiring manager will try to sell you on certain aspects of the role or company — and if they don’t, that’s something to pay attention to, according to Marina Byezhanova, owner of a national headhunting firm.
“If the person interviewing you takes no time to sell you on the company and the job, it is a sign they are not that sold on you,” Byezhanova said. “The amount of time the interviewer dedicates to telling you about the company and all of the wonderful perks of working there depends on interviewing style and personality… However, when an interviewer makes no effort whatsoever to show you how enticing working there would be for you, it’s a telling sign that you are not seen as the top candidate for the job.”
2. “Why should we hire you?”
A hiring manager will ask you this “only if they identify some potential in you and want to hear it from your end,” explained Thomas Brown, CEO of Wigsmaster.
“It hints that they may have made up their mind and only want you to convince them to complete the process,” he said. “If they do not ask you this, chances are they might not have been impressed by the interview.”
3. “What values are important to you in a workplace?”
Not being asked this speaks to one thing — the interviewer not particularly caring to hear your answer, career coach Maya Kruger said.
“If values aren’t checked, it could mean that there is an expectation to conform to the workplace culture, despite it not being aligned with the employee,” she said.
4. “What is your expected salary?”
Ideally, the salary range has already been shared with you in the job posting itself or in the initial screening with HR or a recruiter. If you’re far into the interviewing process and salary still hasn’t come up, that’s a bad sign, David Levi, founder of Cryptoner, said.
“When an employer or hiring manager refuses to talk to you about money, this might mean they aren’t willing to increase your pay should you not agree with the rate they offer you,” Levi said. “Companies like these hire employees regardless of what they can bring to the table.
5. “Why are you leaving your current job?”
If you’re currently employed, essentially every potential employer is going to want to know why you’re leaving,” Janelle Owens, HR Director at Test Prep Insight, said.
“This is valuable information that offers insight into how you like to be managed, your career goals, if you’re in it for the long haul, and more,” Owens said. “If the interviewer doesn’t ask this it’s probably because, no matter the reason, the company just needs warm bodies… and they may just not care because they’re desperate.”
6. “Where do you see yourself in one, two or five years’ time?”
While no one really enjoys answering this question, it can be a “great indicator” of the type of company you’re looking to join, James Crawford, CEO of DealDrop, said.
“If you are not asked that question, either the interviewer doesn’t really expect you to be with them for that long or they have no real interest in your career progression,” he said.
Not being asked this can also speak to discriminatory assumptions about your career ambitions, particularly for older workers or young parents.
7. “Explain how you’d handle (insert challenging, specific hypothetical situation).”
If it feels like you’re being thrown softballs instead of difficult, specific-to-the-role questions, that’s a bad sign, Irene McConnell, Managing Director of Arielle Executive, said.
“One of the tell-tale signs that you may be failing an interview is that the interviewer will not go into much detail with behavioral questions or ask for specific examples,” McConnell said. “They’ve got a general overview of your previous work experience and skill set, but it stops there. They may even pull back completely and start asking easier or irrelevant questions not related to the role itself. You may feel like you’re acing the interview, since it feels more personal. The reality often is, though, that the interviewer has simply made up their mind and given up on you.”
8. “Here are XYZ things to know about our company culture.”
Not being asked questions related to the company culture, or at the very least not having it described to you, is a major red flag, according to George Santos, Director of Talent Delivery & Head of Marketing at 180 Engineering.
“When we interview a candidate, we are doing more than just trying to figure out if they have the right abilities for the job. Often, we also try to find out if they will be a good culture fit,” Santos said. “If you aren’t getting any questions in an interview about your personality, values and goals, it may be because the interviewer has already jumped to a conclusion on your rightfulness for the job. In some cases, this can also be a sign of cultural or racial discrimination if their judgment is based on preconceived notions about what they think your values are.”
9. “Why do you want to work here?”
It’s a tried-and-true classic interview question for a reason. And if you aren’t asked it, this doesn’t bode well, Mark Daoust, CEO of Quiet Light, said.
“Asking this question helps an interviewer determine if the interviewee has drive and if they took the time to learn about the company at all beforehand,” he said. “Not asking this question can imply that the company is not looking for the best candidate but is simply trying to fill vacant positions as quickly as possible. This lack of care from the potential employer could be a sign that the company doesn’t really care about or take much interest in their employees.”
10. “Where are you at in your search?”
A hiring manager who doesn’t attempt to understand how deeply you’re considering other roles isn’t an especially interested hiring manager, Sheila Musgrove, owner of a Canadian recruitment firm, said.
“They should want to understand how far down the process you are with other firms and your timing,” Musgrove said. “If they aren’t interested in your candidacy, this question will definitely not come up.”
11. “When could you start?”
Similarly, a hiring manager who isn’t interested in getting this info probably isn’t that interested in you as a candidate, Jameson Rodgers, Co-founder of CBDfx, said.
“One interview question that is a tell-tale sign of the hiring manager going in a different direction is if they fail to ask for your earliest available start date,” Rodgers said. “Companies have an open position for a reason: they have a job that needs to be filled. Without being asked about a specific timeline, chances are that you are not being seriously considered for the position.”
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