When we’re searching for a job it’s easy to ignore red flags, in favor of wishful thinking. We can become so focused on making sure that we are putting our best foot forward, that we miss out on major warning signs in the process. Especially when the job search takes longer than we’d hoped.
People will show you who they are, believe them.
It’s kind of like the movie, “He’s just not that into you”, in which one woman after another makes excuses for a man who doesn’t call them back, ghosts them, or generally treats them like trash. It’s a familiar story for many, and we can easily see how we or someone we know has found themselves in the same situation but most people don’t even recognize this same exact trend in our business lives.
If the salary is right, the location convenient, the product is good enough, and we get full benefits for our family, we may overlook some of the “smaller” things. This is especially true if we feel lucky that we struck it big with a higher title, or salary then what we are currently making.
Nobody wants to spend another moment in the painful process of searching for a job, so we end up settling for something that will end up causing us more pain in the long run. 85% of Americans hate their jobs. If you avoid red flags during the interview process, you are less likely to be one of them.
Here are the top red flags to look out for when interviewing for a new job:
1. They are disorganized throughout the interview process
If a company is disorganized during your interview, whether it’s in the scheduling, or on your actual interview day, there is a good chance that they are disorganized in other areas of their business.
2. They aren’t respectful of your time
If a company isn’t respectful of your time – they no-show, show up late, or reschedule, repeatedly – they aren’t valuing you. Companies are on their best behavior during the interview process. If they don’t respect your time now, it’s not likely to improve when they are no longer making an effort to impress you.
3. Employees are lackadaisical about their jobs
Get a sense of the overall tone of the employees at the company. If multiple people that you speak with show little interest in being there, it might not be a very inspiring place to work.
4. They aren’t communicative with you during the interview process
Communication is key to success in business and life. If a company isn’t communicative with you about where you are in the process or goes silent for long periods of time, this could be a sign that communication isn’t something that they excel at.
5. The job description is vague.
Most of the time, a company should be able to give you a clear idea of what your responsibilities will be. If you are the first one to fill a particular position, there may be some element of helping “define your own role”. Even then, it’s important to have a conversation about how the success of the role will be measured. If they can’t give you a general sense of what success looks like from that role, it’s not going to be a position that is valued, and there is a lower chance of job security.
6. They over-stress earnings “potential” or OTE.
The number of times I’ve heard companies say “you could make a TON of money” when they are trying to make up for a painfully lowball base salary, is incredible. This is a power-play meant to make you feel like if you are a hard worker, you shouldn’t be worried, and if you don’t like the offer, you must not be a hard worker. Don’t fall for it. Most of the time, the OTE that they are offering is far from what people are actually making. Ask questions, like: What percentage of people in your position hit the numbers that are required to make that OTE?
7. They’re in the news, in a bad way.
Not all press is good press, when it comes to company culture. If a company is getting bad press for their internal practices, don’t write it off. Explore it. Dig deeper. If you really want the job, be sure to at least have a conversation with a couple of employees or ex-employees, (outside of the interview process) who can give you another perspective.
8. They haven’t been able to keep your position filled.
This may seem obvious, but sometimes interviewers will play to your ego. They will downplay why others failed to stick in the position, and make you feel like you will be the one who can make it work. If there is a trend of people quitting or being let go from the position or team that you are applying for, this is a big red flag.
9. They brag about their culture of overwork.
This is one that I see a lot in the world of tech. Interviewers will bring it up in the context of how passionate everyone is. So passionate that they are happy to work a late night or through the weekend. It can feel awkward to question this, because you don’t want to come off as lazy. Don’t be afraid to ask: how often does that happen? If it’s very occasional, then that’s pretty normal. If it’s more often, it will be up to you to decide your tolerance for working overtime.
10. There’s no clear career path.
When you get a new job, you want to have a sense of where that will put you in 6 months, a year, or 5 years, if you stay at the company. If a hiring manager, can’t tell you what the opportunities are for promotion, this is a sign that it might be difficult to move up from that role.
11. They have a lot of negative Glassdoor reviews
Glassdoor reviews are meant to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s the first place that a disgruntled ex-employee (or current!) goes to unload their grievances about an employer they aren’t fond of. That said, trust the trends. If there are a number of people with the same complaints, it’s worth paying attention to.
12. Something feels off.
Trust your gut. If there’s something that rubs you the wrong way about the company or its employees, pay attention to that signal. Our subconscious brain process much more information than we are able to rationalize on the surface.
You should especially pay attention if you don’t feel comfortable with your potential teammates or manager. Those are people that you will need to work well with on a daily basis. Don’t kid yourself into thinking it’s something you can deal with, just because there’s a dollar sign attached.
What do you do now?
Any one of these red flags on their own, doesn’t necessarily condemn an employer. You will need to weigh these with your own needs and values. Just make sure that you are being honest with yourself.
We all deserve to work in an environment that feels safe and inspiring. When you don’t like your work life, you are not only negatively impacting your daily life, but your quality of work, and career trajectory as well. It’s not worth it.
There are always going to be more opportunities. Know your value. Know your worth. And get the job that you deserve