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Warning Signs the Company You're Interviewing With Is Not a Good Fit

By Suzanne Lucas
Business.com / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

A few red flags that you shouldn't ignore when interviewing with a prospective company.

When you need a new job, it's often a need--your current one is horrible, you are currently unemployed, you need more money, or your spouse has a new job that requires relocation. 

It's not often a whim. (Although, there are people who change jobs because they like to!)

When you need a new job, it's tempting to think that your sole purpose in job hunting is to get a company to offer you a job. You forget that you're going to be stuck with these people doing these tasks for 40 plus hours a week.

That's more time than you spend with your spouse, who you spent a considerable amount of time selecting!

Related Article: Help Is On the Way: How to Save a Bad Job Interview

Some companies stink. You know this because you've probably worked for one or two in your life. Some companies are generally fabulous, but the hiring manager is a micro-managing nightmare. Some companies have huge problems that they hide from you in the interview process--because they know that no one in their right mind would accept such a position if they knew the truth.

But, how do you figure out what these companies are like? Well, there's not a perfect way, but here are some red flags that can help you figure out if this is a good choice for you. Remember, part of the interview is you figuring out if you want to work there!

Weirdly Changing Job Description

Now, I don't have a problem with jobs that have a lot of random responsibilities. In fact, I like random. But, I don't want to apply for a job with one job description, show up for the interview and have them talking about a completely different set of responsibilities, and when I show up to work find out that neither previous job description was realistic.

Often managers aren't completely clear on what they want a new hire to do--because it's dependent upon whom they hire. But, they should be able to tell you that in the interview. If they don't have a clue what they want the person in this position to do, run until they figure it out.

Lots and Lots of New Hires

This is not a red flag if they are expanding rapidly. That gives its own set of problems--job descriptions are often unclear (see above), and there's not a lot of training. But that doesn't mean the company or the boss is bad. It's just part of growth.

But, if the company isn't growing and they are constantly hiring? That means people are constantly leaving. Why are they leaving? Are they being fired? (This means the company either stinks at hiring or at managing. Neither is a situation you want to get yourself into.) Are they quitting voluntarily? This is a huge sign that they treat their employees poorly. Great companies have turnover too, of course, but not tons.

They Won't Answer Your Questions

You know how in a job interview they always ask, "Do you have any questions?" Well, you do. Great questions to ask: "Can you tell me why this role is available?" The goal here is to find out if it's a new position and if not, what happened to the previous person. Managers who won't answer this are hiding something. Another great question, "What's the biggest problem your company/department faces and how does this position fit into this?" Managers who don't want to talk about problems are hiding something. One of the best answers I ever got from this question? "My boss is a screaming nutcase. I'll do my best to protect you, but can't guarantee you won't get yelled at."  I took that job, by the way. I knew what I was getting into from the beginning.

Related Article: Finding the Golden Ticket: Interview Tips for Hiring Stellar Employees

Their Glassdoor Reviews Are "Off"

You don't want to work for a company that has universally terrible Glassdoor reviews--unless they address those with you directly and present a clear plan for how they are fixing those problems. But, you also don't want to work for a company that is packed with reviews that read like it's a utopia. There are no utopias, but there are lots of companies who demand that their employees write positive reviews. While Glassdoor does it's best to stop this type of thing, it's pretty much impossible. If they sound fake, keep your eyes open extra wide. They probably are fake.

You Observe Bad Behavior in the Interview

Companies should be on their best behavior when they are interviewing, so if you see rotten stuff, run. When the hiring manager yells at someone while you're in her office, that's your future right in front of your eyes. When the recruiter keeps losing your paperwork and never gets back to you, that's a sign that the HR department is a mess. (Depending on your role, this may or may not be too important, but think about it!) If you submit travel expenses, and they can't seem to get you a check, they've got internal issues. Just pay attention and figure that every flaw you spot will be multiplied by 10.

None of this means that you need to find a perfect company. Just as there are no perfect employees, there are no perfect companies. But, don't be afraid to look around and reject a company that waves its red flag in your face.

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