application process

Red Flags for Job Seekers: What An Employer’s Application Process Says About Them

Caroline Beaton

How an employer screens, communicates with and interviews job candidates can shed light on their work culture, priorities and attitude toward employees.

Hundreds of kununu reviews surfaced four prevailing comments about the job application process. Here’s what these common hiring scenarios say about your potential employer, some of which allude to red flags you should avoid:

They Only Recruit from the Outside

Relying heavily on outside talent can signify stingy internal hiring. On one hand, excessive outside recruiting means the company wants the best possible talent, which is positive. On the other hand, it means they’re not dedicated to helping their existing talent grow – a potential red flag.

Indeed, of all application complaints in kununu reviews, the ones surrounding internal hiring were most prevalent. Many reviewers said that HR simply ignored internal applications while actively recruiting external ones. One employee complained that she was “unable to move out of retail after 60 plus internal applications.” Another wrote bluntly, “No feedback, no responses for 95% of [internal] applications … only one level promotion is available.”

In short, if you see tons of external job postings for management or other upper positions, this could be a sign of deficient career development – and you could be subject to it.  


You’re Blown Away by the Interview

If you don’t have a single reservation about the company after your final interview, they haven’t been frank. Every job has drawbacks and parts that may not sync with your interests or expertise. The good companies will tell you what those are upfront.

Many kununu reviewers reported being misled during the hiring process. One employee was told during his interview that he would “receive raises every thirty days.” But he never got even one –“After two years of asking the CEO and getting the run around, we parted ways.” Another summed, “They made it sound good in the interview, but after that it’s all downhill.” Other workers felt outright tricked. One Apple employee said she was “deceived during the recruitment and interview process. Had I known what I learned after a few weeks, I never would have taken the job.”

Trust companies that clearly outline what they would expect from you as an employee, grunt work and all. One happy employee explained that “You know from the second you interview with them what they expect from you.” This kind of honesty – not “we’ll make all your dreams come true” – signals transparency and solid values. If the company seems too good to be true, go with your instinct.


They Offer Other Exposure    

You’ll know your interviewers aren’t just blowing smoke if they offer opportunities to see the company outside your interview.  

Sometimes they’ll let you shadow someone in a similar role for a day. One employee reported that Summit Credit Union has “a culture that encourages job shadowing.” Other times, they’ll put you in contact with current employees so you can ask questions “off the record” and without management present.  

If potential employers seem resistant to giving you more company exposure before you take a job, that’s a red flag. The company’s inner-workings should be a selling point, not a source of shame. After all, that’s where you’ll be if you take the job.


Their Application Is Tedious and They Take Forever to Get Back to You

Though some kununu reviewers grumbled about extensive, antiquated applications, a long-winded application can indicate that the company is committed to vetting their employees. One Kahoots employee raved, “Very tedious application process helps find better quality people and everyone is nice!”

The same goes for a long response time. If getting back to you takes companies several weeks, or even a couple months, don’t cross them off your list yet. They could be swamped with applications, or being extra thorough. Good companies care about finding the right fit, however long it takes.

Good employers, in short, will recruit internal personnel for positions whenever possible; they’ll clarify expectations (even the not-fun stuff) during the interview; they’ll offer windows into the job; and their hiring process may be painstaking.

In the end, a company’s application process is a microcosm of how they’ll treat you on the job. Look for these four signs throughout your search and you’ll increase your chances of landing a company you love.



Caroline Beaton (@cs_beaton) is kununu’s millennial career expert. She’s an award-winning writer and entrepreneur who helps ambitious millennials change their habits and behaviors to lead more fulfilling lives. Her writing has been has been featured in Forbes, Psychology Today, Business Insider and many others.