Imagine you’re about to walk into a job interview. You’re nervous and hoping the interviewer will like you. But what happens if, in your rush to impress, you miss a warning sign about the employer or the position?
Some red flags may be obvious — an interviewer asking inappropriate questions or a visibly dysfunctional office — but what if the signs are subtler?
I’ve compiled a few warning signs you should be aware of before you accept a job offer.
- High turnover. How long was the previous person in this position? A revolving door in the job or with the organization as a whole can be a sign of poor training and/or bad management.
- Negative reviews. What’s the company’s reputation? How did they treat their customers? Consider online reviews, published news accounts, and anecdotes from friends and acquaintances. One bad comment could be an outlier, but beware of a pattern of dissatisfied customers and/or employees.
- Unclear job duties. Does the position description match the interviewer’s description? Are you getting conflicting information? Ask for clarification. If you aren’t satisfied with the response, this might not be the job for you.
- Indifferent interviewers. You’re trying to make a good first impression. Are they? Typically, if interviewers don’t make some effort to treat you well and value your time, their behavior will probably not improve once you’re a coworker. Warning signs may include company representatives not responding to your emails or phone calls in a timely fashion.
- An immediate job offer. Are they pressuring you to make an on-the-spot decision? A reputable employer will typically give you at least 24 hours to consider an offer. They should welcome follow-up questions about health benefits, vacation, or work hours. If they bristle at such routine inquiries, the organization might have something to hide.
- Bad fit. Does the organization have a healthy culture — one that aligns with your personal values? If not, you probably won’t be happy there over the long term. Consider opportunities for career growth when assessing fit.
Research ahead of time will help you get a feel for a company and potentially help you avoid a bad situation. Online UW-Madison resources, LinkedIn, and your personal network are all great places to get information that you won’t find in a job interview.
The bottom line is: trust your instinct. With or without obvious red flags take time to reflect on any significant doubts you have about the job or the organization. You may want or need a new job, but you could end up in a situation that’s worse than your current one. Remember you’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you.
Moira Kelley is a senior career counselor in UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, see https://acsss.wisc.edu/ or call 608-263-6960.
This article originally appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on September 11, 2016.