Candidates cautious of company red flags: Results from the 2023 Greenhouse Candidate Interview Experience Report

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3 mins, 21 secs read time

We often see the little red flag icon trending on social media as people share the behaviors that would make them rethink or reject a potential romantic partner. But red flags apply to more than dating – today’s candidates are also on the lookout for warning signs from prospective employers.

The 2023 Greenhouse Candidate Interview Experience Report reveals several company red flags that send candidates running in the other direction. We surveyed 1,200 US-based candidates to learn about how employers are handling communication, interview questions and the overall candidate experience. Explore our findings here.

Clear communication is everything

Candidates revealed that communication is one of their top priorities and when employers can’t commit to being clear, they’re ready to walk away. The large majority of candidates (70%) believe a lack of communication in the hiring process is the biggest red flag. Other warning signs job seekers have experienced include a negative interview experience (57%), companies avoiding questions about pay (55%) and vague job descriptions (55%). Clear and concise communications are absolutely necessary to win great talent.

Company catfishing remains a common practice

Our 2022 candidate interview and employer brand report uncovered an unsettling trend of company catfishing, where a company’s actual culture is misaligned with the employer brand that same company is putting out in the world. And unfortunately this is still a common complaint among candidates – and a major company red flag. Over one-fifth (22%) of talent have worked jobs that did not match what was described during the hiring process. And one of the most common reasons candidates gave for ghosting employers during the hiring process was that the company was different from what they expected.

The results show that many candidates face discrimination, poor interview practices and a lack of human connection in the hiring process. Companies have work to do to ensure they’re not asking invasive, illegal questions that discriminate against candidates. Protected classes like your age and race shouldn’t be contributing factors to whether you get a job offer, in any way.
Ariana Moon, Head of Talent Planning and Acquisition at Greenhouse

Discriminatory and illegal questions are all too common

There are also plenty of job interview red flags that give candidates pause. The survey found that discriminatory and illegal questions are all too common in the interview process, harming both candidates and companies. Over one-third of candidates (34%) have experienced discriminatory interview questions, with the most common questions focused on age (34%), race (28%) and gender (24%). Other common discriminatory questions were focused on marital status, religion, ability status and parental status. Questions on these topics are disrespectful and illegal. Broaching these topics in a job interview can seriously damage a company’s business with potential litigation.

Don’t trust everything you see on TikTok

Close to one-quarter of candidates said they are turning to TikTok for job-seeking advice. The recent TikTok trend of “white fonting” has taken candidates by storm. Over half (57%) of job seekers said they would use white font on their resume to hide keywords in the document and increase their chances of being seen.

But this tactic isn’t as successful as candidates think. Greenhouse’s Head of Talent Planning and Acquisition, Ariana Moon said, “While it’s understandable that candidates are using tactics such as white font, the reality is that many companies don’t automatically filter out candidates that don’t have a keyword in their resume. Candidates have a better chance at meaningful engagement with an employer if they reach out directly to recruiters. This can happen in a variety of ways – through surfacing a shared contact, making a personal connection during an event, or reaching out through social media platforms like LinkedIn and even Instagram and TikTok.”

Curious to see if your organization is exhibiting any other company red flag behavior? View the PDF to explore the report.

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Dinah Alobeid

Dinah Alobeid

is the Senior Director of Content and Communications at Greenhouse. She helps shape and share the Greenhouse brand story and keeps its audiences informed on company news and industry knowledge. Dinah has over 16 years of communications and content experience in the technology field and prior to Greenhouse, she built and ran the communications team at Brandwatch. She's an avid writer, dancer, foodie and book nerd. You can connect with her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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