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Job-Interview Warning Signs: Is This Job a Bust?

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Let me act as the voice of reason for you. Read on for a few tips on identifying job-interview "red flags" that usually mean trouble and, not to mention, a short-lived stay.

Pay Attention to Your Interviewer's Every Word.



You know that feeling you get in an interview when things are just not right. You kind of go "ehh..." inside—it's like a let-down. Whether it's a comment the employer makes or a strange vibe you get, the briefest interview moment can speak light years about a potential position and boss. Many times, eager job seekers who are blinded by the need for a new job overlook and rationalize these job-interview hiccups. But I cannot stress enough that it's the details that make the difference.

If the employer makes a comment that could be construed as rude or condescending, just go ahead and put that under a microscope and take it as a concrete representation of the person. Nine times out of 10 it means he or she will be a controlling, egotistical boss.

Also, listen to what the employer says about the firm or company and its employees. Is he or she excited and passionate about where the organization is going? Or do you get the feeling that he or she would like to be looking for a new job too? If the employer speaks highly of his or her employees and what everyone is working toward, it's usually a sign that you're interviewing to join a good team of people who take pride in their work.

Find Out Why the Firm or Company is Hiring for Your Position.

Do your best to discreetly find out why the firm or company is looking to fill the position at hand. Is the previous person moving away or just going on to something bigger and better? Is the position new? Or is it just a dud? You may never find out the answer to this question, but usually you'll find out if the reason is positive. If you don't hear anything about how the previous person did the job or any of the related details, he or she may not have left on good terms.

Employers will usually make reference to the person who had the job before when explaining how immediately a replacement is needed. If the interviewer seems a little rushed to get you hired, it usually means the previous person left in a hurry...which is usually a bad sign.

I made the mistake of accepting a "dud" job once. The job paid peanuts and offered few growth opportunities, and the commute was horrendous; even if you lived near the office, getting to work could take a while since it was in a very busy area. I later found out that the employer had had a hell of a time hiring someone for that position, and when I left after two months, I knew why.

Pay attention, use common sense, and go with your instincts on this because if it's such a great job, why would someone leave it?

Is the Offer Too Good to be True? Get it in Writing.

Does the job package seem too good to be true? Are the hours and the salary just too perfect? Depending on the situation of the firm or company, your job's description and perks could become temporary or "flexible" if not specified in writing.

Unless the job is entry-level, you will likely receive a job offer in writing. It should list the title of the job, your starting salary, and any requirements for the job. It's a way to lay everything out on the table before you accept the job and will prevent uncomfortable future incidents that can turn into he-said-she-said situations. Getting a written job offer secures your job and its terms, preventing the employer from conveniently making some "adjustments" to your negotiated work terms.

The Hiring Process is Taking Ages.

If you interviewed for the job three months ago, got called back for several great follow-up interviews, and are still wondering what's going on, you might want to think twice. In my experience, this type of delay usually means one of two things: that the job description is still being developed or that the organization may not be financially prepared to hire someone new.

If the job is new, its outline and duties may shift after you start—for better or for worse. So if you're all for taking chances, go for it, but proceed with caution. If the firm or company is not sure it can afford to hire you, taking the job may also be a risky jump because new hires are usually the first to go if companies need to downsize.

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