4 Interview Questions that are Red Flags

Apr 24
As much as the interview process is an opportunity for a company to learn about candidates and make a judgement about fit, it is also an opportunity for candidates to make judgements about companies. It is a two-way street! This goes for all industries, not just tech! You can read as many Glassdoor reviews as you want about a company. But until you meet some of the current employees, you won’t have that good of a perspective on the culture. Working at a company that doesn’t fit with your personality will not end well. So to reiterate - you are judging the company as much as they are judging you. Well besides analyzing the personalities of the people you meet with, you should also take note of the questions they ask you in the interview process. Many companies out there still ask ridiculous questions that are irrelevant to the role you’re applying for. Why do they do this?
  • Some are unwilling to change their recruiting process
  • Some want to test your critical thinking skills in a “creative” way
  • Some want to set traps for you to see how you respond
It’s important to realize that as you interview with a bunch of companies. Most of these ridiculous questions should serve as red flags in your quest to find the job that is perfect for you. Because the last thing you want in your job search is to take a job and then realize 2 weeks in that you hate it. So here are some interview questions that are red flags that might make you want to steer clear of a company.

Question #1: What is your biggest weakness?

This is one of my least favorite interview questions. We rarely share our greatest weaknesses with the people closest to us. So why share it with your potential employer that you don’t know very well? They want you to say something that you are not very good at. Explain how it has impacted your life. And then list steps you’ve taken to improve on your weakness. Something like: “My organizational skills aren’t great. I realized this when I forgot to turn in a project in school by the deadline. To fix this, I have been using my calendar more to plan out my day as well as list deadlines so that I won’t miss any assignments.” I have a couple issues with this question: Your biggest weaknesses are often irrelevant to the position you are applying for. “My biggest weakness is that I’m a terrible artist. My stick figures are even miserable-looking.” How is that relevant to your job in inside sales? It isn’t. It doesn’t hinder your ability to make cold calls or use Salesforce to manage a sales pipeline. Which naturally leads people to lie in their response. They think of something that isn’t that big of a weakness for them and wouldn’t be that detrimental to an organization. If an interview question being asked is often too personal or elicits responses that are lies, then it should not be used to judge an employee.

Question #2: How much money did you make in your last role?

First off, you do not have to answer this question! In some states, this question is illegal! They are doing this to see if you will be nice enough to tell them so they could lowball you on salary. An appropriate response to this would be: “I don’t feel comfortable sharing this information with you but I saw on Glassdoor that the average salary for this position is $60,000-$80,000. Given that I exceeded my quota every month at my previous company and would require no ramp-up time then I would expect an offer on the higher side of this range to seriously consider it. Due to the value I would bring to the company in terms of consistently hitting my quota to improve the bottom line, does this seem reasonable to you?” Don’t fall for traps people.

Question #3: If you were an animal what would you be and why?

Seriously?! I’m a human. We can play the “what if” game all day. This question really aims to dig into your personality, creativity, and communication skills. But there are so many other questions you can ask that are actually relevant to the position. One for a customer success role could be: "If a customer is frustrated by your product, explain how you would handle their complaint as well as how you would bring this up to someone within your company?” One for an inside sales role could be: “Hypothetically let’s say you miss quota in the first month. Take me through your process for hitting quota the next month.” One for marketing could be: “If the traffic on our website is declining how would you fix it?” For all of your answers to those questions, you would still be showcasing your personality, creativity, and communication skills. Except it is actually relevant to the role, unlike the animal question.

Question #4: Any interview questions about race, sex, gender, religion, or family

This category, above all, is completely unacceptable. Illegal even. Yet these questions are still routinely asked. Do you really want to work for a company that can’t adhere to simple laws like this? I sure don’t. It makes me nervous about the future. -- Now if I was asked only one of these questions in an interview, I probably wouldn’t be very concerned about working for the company in the future (except for #4). It would cause me to do a little more research into the company On the other hand, if I was asked all of these interview questions, then I would likely rule out the company from serious consideration. Interview questions aren’t the only way to look for red flags at a company. Talk to people in the organization. Talk to partners or people that used to work for the company. This will give you a better perspective about how the company truly treats its employees. It’s all about finding a company that you will be happy working for. Because if you are happy and fit in to the culture then it will improve your odds of being motivated and successful. I wish you the best of luck in finding the perfect company - whether it is tech sales related or not. We’re here to help you get your dream job. We also have a similar article: 3 Hardest Interview Questions (And How to Answer Them)that may be of interest to you if you made it this far. -- We have free online sales training videos available on our Teachable. The online sales training videos will help you learn some sales skills as well as give you a preview of what our bootcamp training is like. And if you're asking yourself: "How can I find a boot camp near me?" Our real sales bootcamp that includes live, instructor-led curriculum from former SDRs at Salesforce, Linkedin, and IBM, can be done virtually!
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