Interview Chronicles: Top 5 Red Flags when Interviewing

I’ve interviewed thousands of people since our business is in retail and we have been expanding. 

When I interview, there’s a few red flags I look out for. The biggest bombs come after the question, “Why did you leave your last employer?” 

Here are a few red flags I look out for when I interview. When I hear them, I don’t hire the candidate. Take a look and see if you agree:

1. “For greener pastures or “For career growth.”

I like people who tell it to me straight. There’s few things I like less than bullsh*t, and when you answer that the reason for leaving your previous employer is for career growth, you’re not telling me the entire truth. 

People leave because they’re unhappy about something. Maybe they’re unhappy with the pay, their coworkers or with how they’re treated. These are completely valid reasons to leave a company.

But when you leave a company because of career growth, it shows me two things: 1) Your capability limits your growth in your previous job, and 2) You’re most likely to show little loyalty and run after the money. 

The first point possibly means you cannot climb the company ladder anymore so you’ve decided to shift gears. As I know there’s always a demand for reliable and competent people, you having reached the top of the ladder means that’s how good your work is. And if your boss hasn’t promoted you yet, there must be some good reason for it.

The second is most likely, you’re a job jumper. This means that every 1.5 to 2.0 years, you jump into another company because they’re offering you a little bit more money. This shows a lack of loyalty, grit and compassion for your employer, qualities I don’t like in my people.  If you’re bribeable to change jobs for just a few thousand bucks, I wouldn’t want you with us lest you dump me for another higher paying employer.

2. For personal reasons (e.g., mother got sick, family asked you to go home to take care of some legal issue, you got pregnant, etc.)


Life is unpredictable and bad shit happen all the time. People get sick, get hospitalized and die. There will be tragedy and unfortunate accidents, and such occasions call for you to deal with them properly.

But you don’t quit your job because of some personal issue. In fact, you should NOT quit your job when these issues arise.


Because you need funds to tide you over. 

If you have money, you can pay for your mother’s hospitalization bill. You can support your kids even if your husband leaves you. You can pay someone else to take care of your kids while you work.

While money is not the answer to your problems, it’s still a great way to help you with your problems. If you have money, many problems go away. If you don’t have money, you’ll feel powerless and you won’t have the financial artillery to get you through.

So if you have personal problems, deal with them. Don’t quit your job.

And if you quit your job because you’re dealing with a personal problem, chances are, you’re probably the sole responsible breadwinner of the family who can’t stop but save his/her family member when they’re in trouble. You don’t have the healthy support system to help you through.

If that’s the case, come the time there’s a next personal crisis, you will once again quit your job and now it’s me who is hanging.

3. My employers treated me unfairly. I should get this or this pay, or this or this benefit.

Sure there are bad employers out there who abuse their people. But given the strictness of the government, these very abusive employers are a lot less than you think. Instead, I’d like to think that many companies have a minimum set of standards that they uphold to. In other words, the abuse many employees believe they’re in just lie in their heads.

I don’t say this very lightly. In fact, I empathize with employees who have clearly been abused by their employers. As I’ve said, there are a few bad companies out there. But most of the time, the complaints staff have over their previous employers are not exactly valid.

Many applicants complain about the lack of benefits. But it’s the understanding of what benefits are mandatory or are merely icing on the cake that’s the problem. 

For example, staff complain about the lack of benefits. But upon further questioning, it turns out that they are complaining a lack of health card or HMO. However, the mandatory benefits are SSS, Philhealth and Pag-ibig. HMO card depend on company policy, tenure and need. They’re great to have but it doesn’t mean that if the company doesn’t offer HMO yet, they’re already an evil employer.

Many employers offer HMO but with good reason. My husband’s company offers accident insurance because the job is risky and they’ve had people who lost a finger or two while on the job. Many BPOs offer HMO because the graveyard shift screws up with your body and makes you easily susceptible to sickness. But if the company doesn’t offer HMO, it’s not a deal breaker. 

Some employers complain that their salaries hadn’t been increased every year. Their families and needs have grown and yet, their salaries had remained stagnant following only the minimum wage. 

Technically, companies need to follow the minimum wage. Above that, salary increases per year are not mandated by law. As a waiter for example, your salary follows the minimum wage for as long as you are employed. The wages do not really increase the longer your tenure, but they will be increased if you take on additional responsibilities or get promoted.

In short, salaries are rightfully based on performance and output. If you are good, I don’t need you to wait for five years before your salary is increased. I should increase it already after a certain period especially if I don’t want to lose you. However, they are not based because your wife gave birth to another child, or your husband lost his job. 

That’s why I don’t want to hire people who wrongfully complain about the pay or benefits they should have. Aside from what is dictated by law, there are no shoulds. And if you want to have that salary increase, don’t act like the victim. 

Take control of the situation and work harder and better. 

Then money will naturally follow.

4. “I do not get along with my boss / co-workers. They think I am (insert criticism here).”

If you complain about your previous boss or colleagues, more often than not, you’re the problem. Not them.

Again, there are some employers who are truly bitches and awful. But if you can’t get along with most of the people working in the companies you used to work for — mind you, the word is companies — you’re probably the problem. 

And I don’t want to have toxic, complaining and negative people to be part of my team.

5. If you did not leave properly.

Companies all have a set notice period. 

The standard in the Philippines is 30 days notice, but some places do allow for 15 days. There aren’t a lot of companies who will allow you to leave without putting in the notice period as you leaving immmediately causes operational disruption and a lack of turnover. 

So if you left without resigning and clearing properly, it sets off a big alarm that you’re the type who has no qualms in leaving other people hanging. If you’re unhappy, you leave. If you don’t feel like working, you don’t go to work.

If you are unhappy with your job, will it kill you to work for 15 or 30 more days to properly turnover your tasks and clear yourself properly? 

It won’t, right?

Why then would you just wake up and not come to work because you are unhappy? It shows irresponsibility, immaturity and unreliableness that I don’t like in anybody I hire.

There are many other red flags I look out for. But these are the top 5 so far.

How about you? What are your top 5 red flags when it comes to hiring people?

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