It goes without saying that everyone wants to work someone that’s rewarding, fun and has a culture that matches what they want so the interview is a great opportunity for you to establish whether the company is the right one for you.
There are many considerations, which have differing degrees of importance to each of us, but it’s safe to say we all want to avoid the iffy – or downright bad – ones. Here’s a few factors that might indicate a terrible employer.
Lack of preparation. If they are obviously reading your CV for the first time in the interview, you know that your candidacy doesn’t have the highest priority. The interviewer should come ready and armed with full details of the role, and the interview should be tailored specifically towards it. If they are disorganized and vague, this is often a sign of things to come.
Misleading information. This is a common issue. They tempt you in with certain information, only to change the story at interview. The role does offer flexible working, but only after you have worked for 12 months. There is a 30% bonus available, but it hasn’t been paid for the last three years. You will be a key account manager, but you will be responsible for finding your own clients first. Ask questions about the details of the “promises” made in the job ad to see if they’re legitimate or just an attraction tool.
Strange atmosphere. You know what I mean with this one. You walk through their office on the way to the interview room, and everyone seems subdued. The people that do look up have a pitiful look in their eyes – they were in your position once, and they didn’t notice the signs. You will only get a glimpse into office life, but this is often enough.
Unclear career path. For any employer worth their salt, it is perfectly reasonable to ask what your career prospects are. If they cannot give you an example of someone who has risen through the ranks (and they should be proud to share these stories), then maybe it is time for a rethink?
No straight answer. Most business questions are pretty straightforward and, as your interview is a fact-finding mission, most are permissible. If you receive a brush off when you ask about company performance, employment conditions or career paths, be on your guard. If you feel that they are hiding something, it is worth digging further to confirm your suspicions.
Distracted and uninterested. Everyone wants to be wanted. If the hiring manager is busy on his smartphone answering emails or the HR Manager fails to ask you any searching questions, you have to wonder whether you are at the top of their priority list. It is fine that they may have other more qualified candidates, but if they don’t have the decency to show an interest, why should you be there?
Too many personal questions. Do you have children? Do you intend to have children? What do you do in your spare time? How active is your social life? There is taking an interest in a person, and being a little too curious. A few polite questions like this are perfectly normal, but if it becomes an interrogation, then you have to question the reasons why.
Vague performance objectives. Never be content with “discussing your objectives in the first week.” They are hiring you for a specific role, and they should have certain expectations of what that role will deliver for their business. If they can’t talk (in general terms) about your objectives, then get ready for a rollercoaster of unpredicatability.
Seeming desperate. You have the easiest interview ever, and they seem hugely keen for you to join. They make assumptions that you will do a great job and cut to discussing the potential offer far earlier than normal. Any decent company will have high standards for new employees. If it is that easy for you to join them, it could be the same for others – and it could be indicative of a revolving door of employees. What does that say about the quality of the company?
Joining a company is an important choice for you. Make sure that your choice is informed and rational. Look out for these warning signs! And listen to your gut feeling. If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck – it’s usually a duck!