7 “Green Flags” to Look for in an Employer

When interviewing with a new organization, it’s wise to keep an eye out for “red flags.” Some job-seekers might be wary of high company turnover, lack of punctuality, low salaries, or other factors that signal that it might not be the right job for them. Others might have had negative experiences in the past and are actively seeking a role that’s the complete opposite. It’s key to know your boundaries and what sorts of things you don’t want in an employer, as this knowledge can save you from uncomfortable experiences down the road. Red flags certainly have a place in the job hunt and can be great time savers and peace keepers.

Though many job seekers often focus on the “red flags” of a company, you should also consider the “green flags,” or the positive things about a job that make you want to see the interview process through. What things might an employer say during the interview process or post in a job listing that spark excitement about the prospective role, company, or team?

With so many potential places to work, there are many different teammates, policies, benefits, and opportunities for growth that might appeal to you. While your green flags might look different from a colleague’s or peer’s, there are a few common themes that tend to appeal to candidates across the board. Consider the following employer green flags the next time you’re speaking with an employer!

Employer respects your school schedule

For students, time management is absolutely critical. You may be looking for a job while you’re still enrolled in classes, which restricts your availability. For example, say you needed to request an interview slot that accommodates your midterms. If the company you’re interviewing with is considerate of your request and schedules accordingly, that’s a green flag. It indicates they care about your time and participation in the interview process.

If you’re not sure that the job will fit with your schedule, you can always ask! If the recruiter mentions a flexible schedule, it’s a good indicator that they’ll respect your needs as a student.

“When I spoke with [the recruiter] during our initial meeting, she told me that if I ever had an exam or something big coming up just let her know and we would work around my schedule. I think that was very important to show me that they were [not only] giving me an opportunity to come into their organization, but they also understood and supported me as a student because that’s my priority as well.”

Crystal Mikha, Oakland University

Benefits are transparent

For practicality’s sake, clearly communicated benefits that align with what you’re looking for in a job can be another green flag. If the company that you’re interviewing with checks all your boxes–401k, sick days, learning stipend–then you might have found the right fit. Beyond a decent salary, these additional benefits communicate that the company you’re working for values you as more than a worker.  

Leadership is diverse and communicative

Today especially, it’s important for many that their potential company’s leadership is representative of their workers. Don’t be shy when asking questions that concern what leadership looks like, how they communicate, and how they contribute to the culture of the organization. 

Company values align with your personal values

Nothing feels better than working for a company that values the same things you do. Be it their core values or the charities that they partner with, finding common ground with your future company is a great way to start things off. You can prepare yourself before the interview by doing a little searching on the company’s website or social media pages. If you like what you see and what the company says they’re about, then follow up with some questions during your interview!

“The first thing I look at is the company values and what they are solving or what they would like to achieve. Also what they’re selling and what they’re making for the world.”

Nicholas Moreno, California Baptist University

There are opportunities for mentorship and career development

One of the most exciting things about starting a new job is being able to collaborate with and learn from other industry professionals–both in and outside of your assigned department. To assess the opportunities for learning at your new job, ask questions about how mentorship is prioritized in the company culture and if there have been any examples of how the company has helped foster professional learning and development in the past. Even if you’re not sure where you want your career to go, a company culture that’s focused on career development is a great indicator.

Industry specific tools

Another green flag to look for in the hiring process is any specific technology you want to work with. With so many specialized fields of work and different skills to choose from, it might be a good sign if the employer mentions a software or a language that you are familiar with. It gives you a frame of reference for what to expect if you accept the job down the line.

“What I look for primarily is the technologies in which [the companies] are working. As a software engineer I will see if they have the right technology and if I’ve worked with it at school or doing my [previous] job or anything.”

Samir Shah, Stevens Institute of Technology

Demonstrated history of hiring former interns or associates

If you aim to grow from intern to full-time hire, knowing a company’s track record with intern-to-employee conversions can be a reassurance that you’re picking the right place. Have they demonstrated previously that they value investing in their interns and aim to convert them to full-time employees? If so, then that organization could be a great place for you to grow your career!

TL;DR: be mindful of your own needs and ask a lot of questions

Everyone’s going to have different “green flags” that stand out most to them. Depending on your desired career path, there might be little things that you’re looking for to really push you the extra mile regarding your future job. One of the best chances to learn more about a specific employer’s green flags is to ask questions during the interview process, during informational sessions, or while connecting with a recruiter in your Handshake messages. If you’re curious, don’t be afraid to ask!