You’ve been looking for a long time and you’ve finally landed an interview. You think to yourself: This is the job. I have to get this job. And then it looks as though you might actually be hired. Trouble is, there are some red flags. Failure to spot these warning signs might result in you ending up right back where you started, looking for a job.
Here are five things to watch for before accepting an offer, even when you’re desperate.
1. Herky jerky interview process
You get called in, you interview, and then you don’t hear anything for weeks. Then maybe they call you in again, you do another interview, and… radio silence. If your hiring process is this erratic—without some suitable explanation (some crisis at the company, or an unexpected leave of absence by your supervisor), then it’s time to ask yourself 1: whether you can be bothered being treated this way, and 2: what would it be like to actually work for a company that treated potential hires this way? If you really really want the job, it’s okay to give them a second chance (though maybe not a third). Just keep your eyes open and your feelers out for other opportunities.
2. They’re all about them
There’s a constant stream of requests. We need this from you. And we need that. First a writing sample, then a project on spec, then a statement, then a test. They don’t seem to have any respect for your effort or your time. You’re not given space to ask your interviewers any questions. Sound familiar? Run away.
The interview process should be just as much about them recruiting you. If they start to get really demanding and ask for really in-depth work, suggest an hourly consulting rate for that work. Until you have a guarantee of employment, make sure you get paid.
3. They’re shady
By the end of the interview, you’re not sure exactly what your position entails, who you’d report to, what the compensation and benefits would be. You note a lack of any real leadership in the team, and you can’t discern any real structure. Most importantly, if you’ve asked questions and fewer than half of them have been answered to your satisfaction, that’s a sign of major disorganization, even chaos. Run away.
4. They’re nosy
You start getting questions about your past position, your past salary, your personal financial details. None of this is really relevant to your potentially being hired. They only need to know what your target salary range is now. Nothing more. And even that you shouldn’t tell them until they’ve specified their range for the position first.
5. They give you an ultimatum
You get an offer letter out of nowhere. First of all, that letter should really be a phone call or an email from the person you’ve been speaking with, suggesting they’re ready to make an offer and opening negotiations with you. And if they make it clear there will be no negotiations (“We have a dozen other candidates who will take this offer as it stands…”), then you should probably turn your back and wait for a company that will respect both you and the process of bringing a new employee on board.