You’re in the middle of an interview for a position that you really want—but something’s not quite right. Maybe you can’t put your finger on it, but there’s something off during your interview. No matter what position you’re applying for, there are some definite job search warning signs that job seekers should be aware of during the search process.
1. A Too-Long Interview Process
After a job interview, the wait to find out if you’ve been hired can seem like an eternity. (Add to that the reality that some employers don’t respond after job interviews, which can make the process even more frustrating.) But if it takes weeks—or even months—before your interviewer lets you know that you got the job, you might want to think twice before signing that job offer.
Unless there’s a really, really good reason (such as restructuring or perhaps the acquisition of and merger with another company), taking that long to respond could indicate that filling your position isn’t a priority, which could mean you won’t get the feedback and support you want or need.
2. You’re Not Sure About the Boss
You can often tell right away if you’re going to be an integral member of an organization during a job interview—or not. If the potential boss takes no interest in you or your skills or is very terse in their communications, you might want to reconsider should you be offered the job.
Typically, everyone puts their best foot forward during the job interview process (potential bosses included!). If yours is displaying signs of being difficult from the get-go, it’s unlikely that they will change much if you do get hired.
3. The Job Is Unclear
When you applied for the job, they said it was a marketing position. But when you get to the job interview, you find out that it’s a little marketing, a little PR, a little sales, and a smidgeon of social media. That shouldn’t raise too many red flags by itself since many of today’s jobs are not just one set thing and often have a few responsibilities from various departments wrapped up into one job.
But if your prospective boss…
- can’t clearly define the duties of your job
- defines the duties of the job so broadly that it sounds like two or three jobs in one
- you feel that they’re a little vague on important details regarding the scope of the job as it relates to the rest of the company
…you might want to lace up your sneakers and run for the hills.
4. An Uncomfortable Interview
A job interview should be a natural exchange of information. Questions are asked by both you and your interviewer to assess if you’d be a good fit for the job. The thing is, if you’re being asked too many questions, and they’re bordering on illegal interview questions, it might make you think twice about accepting this job.
Ditto if you feel like you’re being pumped for financial information about previous jobs, as, unfortunately, your interviewer might just be collecting data during your interview without any real goal to hire you.
5. Lots and Lots of “Tests”
In applying for almost any job, you can expect to take a test of some sort. While taking tests may not be your favorite activity, it benefits both you and your potential employer. Your potential boss can see if you have the necessary skills, education, and experience to perform the job, and you can get a glimpse into what you might potentially be doing should you be hired—and if you’ll like it or not.
But if you’re being given too many “tests”—and it’s starting to feel like you’re doing some work for free for a company that you haven’t been hired for yet—it’s time to cut your losses and move on.
6. High Staff Turnover
Seeing the same job posting over and over and over could indicate that the company is having a hard time keeping someone in the role or that it’s difficult to find the right person for it. In either case, a repeat job posting could indicate high staff turnover, which often spells trouble.
Don’t rely solely on job postings, though. While you can ask the hiring manager what’s going on, you may not get a helpful answer. Instead, turn to LinkedIn and check public profiles to see how long people stay there. Or, check review sites like Glassdoor to see if people are heading for the exits.
7. Mandatory Overtime
Whether in the posting or during the interview, a mention of mandatory overtime is another job search red flag.
It’s one thing when you’re expected to work long hours during a busy season (think: tax time for accountants). It’s another thing when you’re expected to work overtime all the time!
Particularly if you’re a salaried and exempt employee, you won’t earn any extra money for every hour you work over 40. Plus, a job that expects you to work nights and weekends likely won’t have any work-life balance or flexibility. And requiring overtime could also indicate that a company is poorly run or constantly understaffed.
While you know you shouldn’t badmouth your current or previous employer in a job interview, if the person you’re interviewing with badmouths the staff, your potential supervisor, or the company, you should take note.
A smart interviewer won’t let something like that slip out. But one way to get a pulse check is to ask, “What do you like about working here?” If they have to pause too long to think of an answer or come up with something generic and meaningless (free lunch!), you should pay attention.
9. Money Matters
Nothing about the job is appealing to you—except for the paycheck. While you may need the money, if you’re not excited about the job, you likely won’t be a very engaged employee, and that could show up in your work. Over time, your employer may notice, and you may find yourself back on the job hunt sooner than you wanted.
On the other hand, maybe the job sounds amazing, but the money…not so much. When you get a job offer with a salary well below market rates or what you think is reasonable for your skill set, you should think twice before accepting. While a lowball offer could be a negotiation tactic, a low salary could mean that the employer is not financially stable.
10. Lack of Transparency
While the employer may not be transparent about everything during the interview, not being transparent around certain issues can be a red flag.
For example, if you ask to meet the team before accepting the role but the employer won’t let you, that’s a red flag. And once you receive an offer, you should ask to see the company handbook to get an idea of the policies you’ll be subject to. But if the employer won’t give it to you (or one doesn’t exist!), be cautious.
Finally, if you get an offer but never receive it in writing, that’s another red flag. And if your written offer varies significantly from what was discussed in the interview or what was in the job posting (start with three weeks of paid vacation available immediately, only the offer says you get five days and can’t use them for at least 90 days), that’s another red flag.
Job searching is tough. So, when you finally do get a job interview, you might be willing to overlook some things in an attempt to get hired. It’s a good idea to keep these 10 job search warning signs in mind. That way, you won’t be taken advantage of, and you’ll find a position in which you are respected, valued, and above all, happy.