If you are looking for a new job, you’re not alone. More than half (55%) of Americans plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months, according to Bankrate’s August 2021 Job Seekers survey. Add a tight labor market, and that there are more open jobs than people looking for work, and chances are that someone who’s got good skills is going to be an attractive target.
But just because a job is offered to you doesn’t necessarily mean you should take it. “It’s important to look for red flags during the interview process,” says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster. “You’re evaluating the employer the same way they’re evaluating you to determine if you’re the right fit,” she says.
When these red flags are waving, career experts say you should think twice about saying yes to that job offer, no matter how good it might seem.
Long decision-making processes
If the organization took a long time to decide to make an offer—more than 30 days—and didn’t have a good reason why, that may point to its leadership or other internal issues. “The interview process gives you a peek into the culture of a company,” says Joe Mullings, chairman and CEO of the Mullings Group.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to find out why the position is open and for how long, Mullings advises. “This is important information to determine if the role is a revolving door or if the person it reports into is a challenge to work with,” he says, suggesting that if you can, find out who was previously in the role and possibly reach out to that person to ask their insights.
Lack of consensus
It’s important that your interviewers are on the same page about the role and the company culture, says Amanda Augustine, career expert with TopResume, noting that if responses “vary wildly” when you ask multiple interviewers for details, such as the skills required to do the job, what the day-to-day work would entail, or what the company culture is like, that could be an indication that the team doesn’t have a clear vision. “When you’re receiving different or contradictory responses, consider it a red flag,” she says.
If your job can be done remotely and the company requires you to be in the office full time, especially after the past year and a half, that may be the sign of an inflexible culture, Augustine says. It may also be a barrier to attracting new talent. Employees today overwhelmingly want to be able to work remotely. “If a company is unwilling to allow at least a portion of its employees to continue working remotely on a partial or full-time basis, it will be hard-pressed to entice new talent to join its organization,” she says.
Mullings describes another red flag as “inflexibility around at least a single conversation around negotiations—the inability to negotiate an offer or if there are zero conversations around the offer [prior] to the official offer being made. In today’s environment, job offers and acceptances should be two-way streets.”
Monster’s annual survey, the Future of Work, found that 73% of U.S. workers agree that “virtual hiring makes it difficult to really assess how a company’s values and culture align with my own.” But, Salemi says, the interviewers’ styles can tell you a lot about the company and its people. “The interviewer may not be listening. They may seem distracted, perhaps even glancing at emails on their phone while you’re speaking at the other end of the screen,” she says, adding that if the interviewer pivots the conversation to themselves or speaks negatively about the company or colleagues, those are also red flags. Any of these actions may indicate that the interviewer isn’t committed to finding the right person or can reflect poor management style as well as culture.
Lack of diversity
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are important to job seekers. According to a 2020 Monster poll, “the majority of job seekers (62%) would turn down a job offer if they feel the company did not value an inclusive and diverse workplace culture.” Ask questions about the company’s approach to DE&I and be observant during your interviews to see whether the organization is walking its talk.
No clear growth path
If the employer hasn’t shown you that there are opportunities to grow with the company, you may want to think twice about accepting the job, Salemi says, explaining that “employers should be intentional about communicating specific career paths and opportunities during the interview.” Monster’s data found that the top two reasons people are looking for new jobs are burnout and lack of job growth or opportunities. If the job doesn’t have an upward trajectory—and that’s something you want—then tread carefully.
“If you receive a job offer and are being pressured to accept it on the spot or within an extremely tight time frame, say 24 hours, be wary,” Augustine says. Don’t be afraid to ask for more time to think about the job offer and your options before committing. “If the employer isn’t willing to give you an extra day to carefully consider their offer, it may be a sign that something is amiss,” she adds. As a prospective employee, you should be evaluating the offer and determining whether it’s a good fit as much as the company should be evaluating you.