I’ve recently been dealing with a bank mortgage officer. Very long story short, after many years of being offered the opportunity and resisting, I finally reluctantly accepted an offer to sell me a co-op in a great neighborhood at a good price. (More to this story…but that’s for another time.)
When we first started talking, the mortgage guy was oh so nice. He chatted me up and even shared lots of stories, including stories of customers who get angry. (Foreshadowing one of the traditional clues of a bad date.) He said he knows it’s a stressful time, but people just don’t seem to have any patience nowadays…and now I know why! Besides the obvious similarity of needing a mortgage in a tight economy, there is one other thing all his customers have in common. That’s right. It’s him!
This got me thinking about reader comments about job interviews with potential interview red flags that eventually lead to jobs that don’t work out. You know those “is this something to worry about?” moments…like when the boss interviewer starts going off on former employees – blaming others for what went wrong. (Amazing how it never seems to be the boss’s fault.) Sometimes they do it with humor and sometimes they even do it in a seductive way that makes you feel you’re being brought right into their inner circle…but in all cases, the clue is that the fault is never with the person telling the “they done me wrong” stories.
As with dating, no matter how cute or charming he or she appears to be, if you hear about exes who were idiots or inconsiderate or always angry (oh…especially that), remember whom they all have in common. Hint: It’s not you.
The Real Question is…Do I Want to Work for THEM?
In a tough job market, I know it’s hard to be thinking “do I want them?” when your rent is due and all you’re really thinking about is finally holding a real live paycheck in your hands. And even if you do get a bad feeling, you just may need to take the job anyway – while you keep looking. But at least you can come into the job with your eyes wide open.
So before you decide on whether to accept an offer, think back to the interview(s) with your future boss and try to remember how much of the conversation was about things like:
- “We just can’t find the right person although I’ve tried a lot of people in this job.”
- Stories putting down or making fun of former or current employees. (Beware especially if you start thinking “But it will be different with me” at this point.)
- Complaints about employees that show it’s the boss who can’t communicate:
- They don’t understand what I tell them.
- They ask too many stupid questions.
- I’m the only one who knows how to do anything right!
- Lots of turnover. (“People just aren’t willing to work hard any more, you know?”)
- “We can’t get ahead of the heavy workloads and long hours.” (Rather than a challenge to you, this could be a huge red flag signaling management problems.)
- Did your potential boss really listen to what you said in the interview?
- Did your potential boss do almost all the talking? (This can go either way, but I once had a horrible boss who barely asked me any questions – he just talked at me!)
- Do you get a feeling you can’t even put a name to that something feels wrong?
If you’re thinking you’ll be the one to finally get it right or save the day (again compare to dating), well sure…that could happen. So could winning the lottery. But odds are that even if you do get “it” right, this type of boss will simply find other “its” to make you the fall guy for his own insecurities and lack of good management skills.
Look both ways before accepting
There is of course no way to know for sure whether to accept an offer from just a few interviews – and any of the potential red flags I mention could turn out to be inconsequential. But at the very least…remember you’re there to see if this is a fit for you as much as to show them how amazingly utterly perfect you are for them. If your gut signals “uh oh” even a little…listen. It may simply mean you need to ask more questions or nose around a bit (search engines, other employees, word on the street) to see what’s really going on at the company. Could be it’s a good opportunity after all.
But just as with dating (or mortgage officers 😉 ) there very well may be more to the picture that at least merits paying attention to. So please don’t overlook those “uh oh” feelings!
Would love to hear your own stories about interview red flags. Or simply your th0ughts on this subject.
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