Looking for a job can cause even the most secure of us to want to impress during a job interview. When you’re staring down the face of Sallie Mae and rent, sometimes you feel like any job will do. While you may feel the pressure, it’s important to remember that all employers are not created equal. Some are the best in the biz, whereas others… well… they’ll send you running to the nearest therapist.

When on the prowl for a new gig, do your best, but also be alert as to how your potential employer might treat you. Here are 5 red flags that suggest a future employer might be more than what you’ve bargained for.

Poor employee reviews

As mentioned previously, it’s always a good rule of thumb to research a potential company. It helps you to prepare for the interview, but more importantly, it gives you a glimpse of what you’re walking into. Sites like Glassdoor are a great way to gauge the reputation of a company. The site offers a glimpse to potential employees in regards to salary, benefits, and current/former employee opinions on the business and CEO.

Basically, it’s like a crystal ball into what your potential employer is like. The reviews cannot be doctored by the employers so they are 100 percent honest. Keep in mind that some employees may be biased. That said, if more reviews are negative than positive, that’s a sign that the company may not be all that and a bag of chips.

High turnover rate

When employees are in and out like a revolving door, it’s a symptom of a bigger ailment. It’s indicative of a dysfunction within that work environment. Turnover can generally be attributed to several factors: unclear expectations, lack of company direction, and poor middle management. This is why it’s key to research company ratings.

During the interview, instead of asking “what’s the turnover rate”, ask, “what’s the average length of employment?” The first question could make you appear intrusive. The second is a more organic question that signifies you are looking for an organization to plant your roots. If a hiring manager seems offended by your question, don’t worry, it’s not you, there’s something up with their organization.

Vague job description

Some job descriptions aren’t as clear as we’d like them to be, but an interview should clear up any questions about the role you’re applying for. In order for you to excel at a job, you first have to know what that job is. There are times where roles within a company have to wear several hats. If there is no clear defining function to the role you’re applying for, you could be getting more than you bargained for.

Be sure to ask for the parameters of the role you are interested in. Great companies will be able to tell you what your day to day would look like. Whereas a not so great company may leave you with more questions than you initially started with. It’s like the saying “the devil is in the details’. If a company cannot explain the role, how can they expect you to make a contribution once hired?

Hiring manager is late/preoccupied

Being late happens as things in life can be unavoidable. However, if a hiring manager strolls in half an hour past the scheduled meeting time without notifying you, that’s not good. Even further, if they are preoccupied or not giving you their full attention (playing on their phone, shuffling papers, etc), that’s another bad sign. Bad managers tend to air a sentiment of superiority over potential employees, which means they are likely to be terrible as supervisors.

A manager with a shred of emotional intelligence will appreciate and respect the time you took out of your day to interview with their organization. Anything less than that shows a lack of character, both of the manager and of the organization.

Unorganized hiring process

So you’ve finished your interview, doing the best of your ability– congrats! The hiring manager gave you a timeframe of when to expect a call back. You’re feeling great about your chances, but then the days turn into weeks, and you haven’t heard anything. Six weeks roll by and out of the blue, the hiring manager gives you a call, offering you the position, blindly stepping over the fact that she ghosted you.

You have two options: take it or run. Hopefully, you chose the latter as this is a major cautionary sign that this isn’t the company you want to work for. Chances are they went with someone else, but it didn’t work out. Now they’re scrambling to fill the role once again. Take a hard pass as you’ll be stepping over a weird situation.

Job Interview Bottom line

You may have to kiss a few company frogs before you find the right organization. The job search can feel incredibly brutal and one-sided starting out. You may feel unsure about your experience, compelling you to accept anything that comes your way. Rest assured that feeling is normal, but have faith and hold out until the right fit comes along. Taking the time to find the right company is way better than working somewhere that you absolutely loathe.

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Taryn Barnes


Los Angeles

Taryn Barnes is a freelance writer and blogger obsessed with HR, Millennial culture, work life balance, and all things tech.

All posts by Taryn Barnes

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