The No. 1 job interview question to ask to spot a red flag, from an HR pro

Source: Envato Elements

When Jordan Gibbs, 31, was laid off from her job as a recruiter with Lyft in November, her response was to spring into action. She pulled out her phone and decided to document her experience of unemployment, including a meticulous job-search plan, on TikTok.

As a hiring professional with eight years of experience, she saw that layoffs rippling across the tech space meant she'd be facing a different hiring market than what she was used to. All told, she went through 42 interviews over a two-month period before landing an offer in January.

Keeping all the details of those interviews straight, let alone using them to figure out if she wanted to work with each company, was a big task. Coming from a layoff, Gibbs also wanted to be sure she was joining a team that would be a really good fit and had long-term potential.

To help figure that out, Gibbs says she likes to ask one important question in early-round interviews: If you had the power to change one thing about the company, what would it be?

The answer will speak to either the culture of the company or the product of the company, Gibbs says.

It's one thing to have constructive feedback about the business's products or services and ideas of how to improve things for customers, she reasons.

But if the interviewer responds with a critique about company culture, that may be a sign of bigger issues under the hood.

"If the answer is, 'I wish the team was more connected,' that's a culture fit question and a red flag," Gibbs says. Issues around communication, management styles or having clarity around the purpose of your work will impact your everyday experience and are harder to change as an individual.

When she gets to later rounds of interviews, Gibbs also likes to ask the question: What do you foresee would be the biggest challenge for me coming into the company?

Jordan Gibbs documented her job search on TikTok after being laid off from her recruiting job last November.
Courtesy of source

This is a chance to have the hiring manager offer an assessment of where your skills and experience align with their needs.

It also gives you a chance to talk about how you'd address any learning curves coming into a new role. A good way to do this is to lean on how you've developed new skills in the past, and explain how you'd apply the ability to adapt in a new position.

It's a good idea to be transparent about what you'll need to learn on the job — and your eagerness to do so. For example, Gibbs' new job will involve a transition from working in tech to financial media. Instead of overstating skills or experience she doesn't have yet (or completely ignoring the gaps), she says she framed it as: "These are the things I think I would be fantastic at learning."

"They can appreciate that I'm a smart person and recognize it would be a learning curve," she says.

Check out:

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