5 Signs That You Probably Shouldn’t Take the Job


3. During the interview, the prospective employer is unsure of the answers to your questions or is wary of answering them.

Before giving me the speed-dating treatment at that last PR firm, the employees neglected to answer my questions about the position. What did the job entail? What about time commitment? Wages? My prospective employers knew just as much as I did: nothing. Of course, I should have foreseen this—the job board listing was also extremely vague.

Your Takeaway: Why would a company be so indecisive about an open position? “They didn’t want to tell you the truth,” Kohut says, “so they told you they didn’t know.” Her advice: If an interviewer pushes your inquiries aside, they could have something to hide. Since an interview is a preview of what your life could be like at the company, Woodward explains that  you should discuss both the frustrating and exciting elements of the job. “Test how open they are,” he says, adding that if the interviewer dodges any questions, that’s a red flag. 

RELATED: 11 Things Hiring Managers Won’t Tell You

4. The interviewer gives you a hard sell or an on-the-spot offer.

I was contacted by a recruiting agency, and the recruiter convinced me that he’d be my advocate, telling me everything that I wanted to hear: He’d collaborate with his coworkers on positions, and would get in contact with a company he’d previously done work with on my behalf. I was comforted—but not for long. After several unrequited voicemails and emails, communication on his end went mum.

Your Takeaway: If an interviewer is trying to convince you that he has the solution to all of your problems and/or a job that’s perfect for you, Woodward says that you should question his motives. In my case, the recruiter sold me a scenario that he knew he couldn’t deliver. His motives were purely monetary—he’s paid to add eager job seekers to the agency’s talent pool, so future openings can be more easily filled.

If a prospective employer offers you a position upon first meeting you, the company (most likely) doesn’t have a long-term plan. If a situation like this arises, tell the interviewer that you’re excited about the opportunity, but you need more time to think over your decision. As Woodward explains, no employer should be too desperate to fill a position.

5. The position forces you to compromise your career objectives.

Although I was qualified for all of the jobs that I applied for … they didn’t all thrill me. So when the rejections rolled in for certain jobs that I’d merely convinced myself would suffice, I wasn’t really devastated. Instead, I actually let out a sigh of relief.

Your Takeaway: Ask yourself in advance what five qualities your job must have—i.e. flexibility, a specific industry, etc.—and then determine if the prospective position has all of these characteristics that you crave. If you find yourself compromising on your must-haves, and then rationalizing those compromises, don’t make a rush decision, says Woodward. In most cases, you shouldn’t have to force yourself to fit the job—the job should fit you.

  • 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!