5 Signs That You Probably Shouldn’t Take the Job


I moved to New York in search of fame and fortune … just kidding.

In all honesty, I moved to the Big Apple unemployed and in search of an entry-level position—but I’m one of the many casualties of the economic downturn.

It didn’t help that my strategy for landing a full-time job was anything but, well, thought out.

To date, I’ve applied for dozens of jobs—many of which were far from my dream position. In today’s economy, you can’t be too picky, but sometimes the gig just isn’t right. In fact, I’ve learned that it’s probably in your best interest to pass on a position if the company does any of the following …

1. Information about the organization isn’t widely available or any info you find presents the company in a bad light.

It’s easy to write off a negative review and consider it a random act of a scorned employee. I thought this was the case when I interviewed for a position at a boutique PR firm. The company’s website was under construction, and the first result to appear in a Google search was a review from a former freelance employee who claimed that the “insane” boss still owed her $50 for her services. Beyond that, there was almost no information available about the firm, and the rarely updated Facebook and Twitter pages had few followers and lots of spam.

Still, who am I to say no to an interview?

During said interview, the owner handed me an in-depth explanation of what my job duties would be, including a page of guidelines on answering the phone. For example, if a certain company should call asking for the owner, I was to say that she was unavailable. Why? These things known as “collections agencies” had been “calling for months.”

Your Takeaway: One negative review shouldn’t dictate whether or not you accept a job. However, if reviews are consistently negative, the more likely it is that they are true, says Abby Kohut, author of Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets: A Corporate Recruiter Hands You The Keys To Your Job Search Success. Kohut advises applicants to read press releases and news stories for reliable insight. Questions to ask yourself: Has the company ever been the subject of controversy? Did the organization ever have to defend their actions?

A company with no industry presence, explains Michael Woodward, author of The YOU Plan: A 5-Step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy, is even more worrisome. If the organization claims to have, for example, “45 years of experience,” industry leaders and trade publications should recognize its accomplishments. If the company hasn’t made a name for itself, then its credibility is questionable.

RELATED: Why I Walked Out On My Job And Never Looked Back

2. The prospective employer doesn’t give you the attention, time, or respect that you deserve.

Have you ever walked into a place and felt like a complete nuisance? I interviewed with another PR firm and it got off to a rocky start: My original interviewer was too busy, so someone else stepped in—and was completely unprepared. Soon after the interview was underway, another employee interrupted, and both women left the room. When it was time for the CFO to speak to me, he waltzed in, virtually ignored my handshake, glanced at my resume and told me that I was not a fit for the position.

Your Takeaway: The hiring process is an expensive endeavor, so prospective employers shouldn’t be frugal with their time. If they are, Woodward says, it’s highly probable that they frequently make hiring mistakes, have an inconsistent company culture and experience a high turnover rate.

  • Guest

    Great read! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Jill

    Thank you for writing this. I have actually been struggling with this for the past few weeks. I will graduate in a few months and  as time goes on, I have been getting discouraged because of no interviews and many, many rejection notices. I do have something that can become a PT job but it irritates me and I cannot stand some of my supervisors. This article gives me A LOT to think about in the upcoming months.

  • Guest

    #2 Definitely resonated with me.  My first job out of school I was recommended by a classmate.  When they asked me to come in, they gave me about 3 hours notice.  I arrived and was told my contact was still out to lunch so they sent me straight into HR to start signing employment papers.  I was super happy just to have a job.  Looking back this impulsive hiring practice caused a lot of problems and an extremely high turn over of employees.

    The high turnover doesn’t just mean you’re always learning new names and bring new people up to speed, it also means that the employees who do stay feel less valued and more disposable. If your employer is constantly hiring people who are underqualified, emotionally unstable or don’t pass their background checks, they are probably taking for granted the fact that you are qualified and professional.

    • EuniceAbena

      Extremely well written and insightful article. It definitely puts things into perspective when it comes to job hunting. Thanks Alyssa for the great read!

  • PalB

    This article has definitely helped me in revisiting my job hunt strategy in the new year. Thank you!

  • Aja_j_williams

    Currently job hunting and these are great things to look out for! I want to be sure that the company is also a good fit for me!

  • Guest

    Even big companies with sterling reputations do the second point here – maybe out of arrogance? I was shocked at how unprofessional a top-rated Silicon Valley company was in my interview process with them.

  • guest

    What a well-written article! Great, practical tips. I want more content like this, LearnVest.

  • Guest

    I’ve run into some of these things in my days as an intern… looking forward to heeding these warning signs and NOT being treated like an intern anymore!

  • Adam

    What a fantastic article! As an unemployed recent college graduate, I related to this article all too well. So much of what you addressed in this article has happened to me as well. Thank you so much for writing about these important issues!! Good luck on your job search and I can’t wait to read more from you!

  • CarrieB

    Wow! This is some of the best job advice I’ve ever received. Thank you so much for sharing this unbelievable insight into the interview/employment realm. This advice is not only entertaining to read, but totally applicable for immediate instillation in the job-hunting process. I think I speak for all unemployed job hunters when give this heartfelt thank you.

  • Danielle Paquette

    Thanks for this, Alyssa. I believe recent college grads don’t have to take the first offer they receive. It’s good to be picky, in some cases. 

  • Just do your Homework

    I think it all comes down to #1 — the company’s reputation. 

    I was recruited by the new President of a company for my 1st job out of college.  The interview was awkward – I had little notice and the President ended up being tied up and the people who interviewed me in his place had no idea what I was being interviewed for.  My job description was pretty much non-existent and all around it appeared to be a mess.  Ultimately though, because both the President and the company had such a great reputation across the industry, I took the job and never regretted it! 

    He is now my mentor and working for him set me up for or directly led me to every job I’ve had since.  Because of the President’s/ the company’s reputation, I was betting on the fact that the disjointed interview/ hiring process was a direct result of the transition period they were going through, and I was right.

    Bottom line – even if a few things seem off, if others in the industry have a good perception of your potential employer, you’re probably OK.

  • jonathan taylor swift

    i was skeptical because you know a job is a job but this makes some great points! sometimes job hunting can be so terrible it’s hard to remember to always be looking out for yourself. 

  • Simontnyc

    All fine and good, but I’ve had a disastrous experience even without all these red flags so, I’ll add another: I interviewed with a company where A) I was told by an outside source (I was doing my homework) that a colleague was “bad news” and untrustworthy, B) that person did something somewhat underhanded regarding a reference of mine during the vetting process (he hit the reference for business in the guise of a reference check something he had no business doing) and C) the reporting structure was set up for me to have an inherent conflict with this aforementioned person. The resulting chaos once I started meant I did not last more than six months and I regretted my decision within weeks. 

    My takeaway? Don’t let ANY dots remain unconnected after you’ve accepted an offer; explore any and all signs of trouble until you are satisfied they have been addressed. 

  • Meganlamariana

    amaaaaaazing! this is a subject that is often overlooked by teachers, writers, etc. I can (unfortunately) relate. I will def keep these in mind :) Thank you Alyssa! Great job.

  • Lauren

    What great advice! In today’s job market I think most people get caught up in just trying to land the position, and forget about their own needs. I’ve run into a few of these warning signs in past interviews and now I’m glad it didn’t work out! It’s tough out there and recent grads need more advice like this! 

  • Shavonne

    I experience almost the same thing. The first interviewer kept her eyes on the clock. The second set of interviewers were worst. They did not even bothered to look at my resume. I felt so uncomfortable ….

  • B E

    Great article. Most of these red flags stick out when thinking of my previous employer. They had the worst turnover rate I’ve ever seen. Anyone who stayed over a year was either laid off or intimidated to quit. Anyone who asked for a raise, would be fired or laid off within months. Luckily being laid off was the best thing that could have happened for em. My mental health was an all time low. It’s awful working for someone who thinks you and your coworkers aren’t good enough. Scary. I’m back at my original mom and pop job, and I’m honestly terrified to work for anyone corporate again.

  • ATLShutterbug

    Watch out for…Company Instabilty/Change. My current company was recently acquired by a larger company who is in the business of acquiring other brands. During the interview process I thought it would be a good opportunity for future advancement. However, the larger company decided to move the current corporate headquarters to another state, and my co-workers (some of which have been there over 30 years), have been forced to relocate or were given notice that they would be let go at the end of the summer. Of course this has created an extremely tense working environment and the people who are being let go aren’t working…just passing the time sitting at their desks – not working and creating roadblocks for everyone else – and now my job feels like I am beating my head against the wall on a daily basis. I feel resentment from some of these co-workers because I was recently hired, but even though I am “safe” at the moment, my job is also in jeopardy. It is sad because the company is letting go some top notch people who have made the company successful – companies undergoing dramatic change just to say they have changed does not necessarily lead to a more productive, positive, or successful workplace.   

  • Guest

    I would add that if your gut tells you something’s not right, go with it.  I was interviewing for an admin ass’t position at a non-profit arts organization, and there were all kinds of red flags:  The fact that her niece was leaving the position, the fact that she wanted a commitment of at least two years, kept mentioning that though the salary was low, there was health insurance, asking if I was married or if I had a boyfriend who would mind me working late nights…all of these things told me that I probably wouldn’t want to work there.  But I did need a job, so I could sort of push those things to the side.  But the one thing I couldn’t push to the side was my overwhelming feeling that this woman would be awful to work for, so I didn’t take it.

  • http://twitter.com/richp_ Rich Peterson

    Great article.

  • Kelly Fox

    I thought this was a very helpful article. I am currently looking for employment and this has reminded me of the importance of seeking beneficial employment.

  • Guest

    First, I have to point out an error in editing…”Before giving me the speed-dating treatment at that last PR firm, the employees neglected to answer my questions…”  Did you mean EMPLOYERS?

    Point 4 was not substantiated by the example given; and Point 5 is almost moot in this economy, wouldn’t you agree?

    Great for you if you have the financial means to hold out for your dream job…but some of us can’t.

  • Carol

    I turn down an good paying job at about $18 per hr, due to after researching the company it was rate “F” by Better Business Bureau, and the way the accept payment from clients was by money wired into my account, then I would transfer by money wired transfers to all players, and this company send me an email about the position, Project manager for website design company.

  • Anonymous

    I would say this is especially true of temp agencies or recruiting companies.  Recently I was contacted by a recruiter who placed individuals on contract positions at a major telecommunications company. 
    The whole process happened very quickly and I was offered the position without even meeting my recruiter.  I had a few questions after my interview with the company that the recruiter reassured me about.  One was overtime, I was told about 5 hours a week and it was closer to 15-20.  Working an occasional Saturday turned out to be every Saturday and every Sunday.  Plus the recruiter pressured me to accept the position on the spot rather than giving me the opportunity to think about it for 24 hours. 
    Sadly I took the position and left a temp job I had been at for a few months.  The temp job was about to offer me a position at a much lower rate than the one the recruiter offered me so I left.  I completely regret the decision.  After a month they left me go and said they were filling the position internally which I knew wasn’t true and I later found the same job posting online.  Be leery of recruiting companies or temp agencies.  Often they are so anxious to place you in a position and make a profit off of you that they don’t care if you are the right fit or not.

  • What’s in a name!

    I had faced an interview about two months ago and somehow the whole thing didn’t seem right. I ended up not pursing the offer, but later kept wondering whether I did the right thing or not! Thanks to the author here, my instinctive decision now seems well reasoned! Four of the five factors mentioned in the article are exactly the ones reflected by the interview/er. I’m glad that I made the right move and I thank the writer for the reassurance!