Women heading for the exit

7 reasons not to take the job

Written by Elizabeth Bromstein
Posted on April 9, 2014

So, you’re a hard rock drummer looking for a job and you get an interview with Black Sabbath. It goes pretty well. You breeze through the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What is your greatest weakness?” questions. Then Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi ask, “Do you have any questions for us?”

We’ve already discussed the fact that you absolutely must not say “no” to this question, and that you should have a list of questions prepared in advance. But there is one particular question that I would ask Sabbath in this instance, and that is, “Why is there such a high turnover in your drummer position?”

And, if I didn’t receive a satisfactory answer, I would probably not take the job if I got an offer.

Black Sabbath has gone through at least eight drummers and eight lead singers (always coming back to Ozzy). Such high turnover is a bright red flag in any organization. Why don’t people stay?

Is something is amiss with either the organization – a difficult culture, or a tyrannical boss, perhaps – or the role itself? You would do well to find out before finding yourself in the middle of it.

Career expert and author of The Shift, Tory Johnson, says this is one red flag you should not overlook.

“Always ask, ‘Why is this role vacant?’” she says. “You don’t want to discover on day one that you’re the fifth person in three months to occupy that spot.”

High turnover is just one sign that you might not want to accept a job offer. Here are 6 more.

There’s incongruity between what you expect and what you get: Alexandra Levit, author of New Job New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career, says it’s a bad sign when, “The picture you get when you walk around the office is decidedly different than the picture painted by your interviewers.”

If they tell you the company culture is energetic and creative, and you’re seeing a bunch of bored drones drooling at their cubicles, watch out.

The application and interview process is frustrating and inefficient: This is another one of Levit’s, who says, “If the process is extremely frustrating and inefficient, that’s a sign of things to come.”

If it takes weeks for them to call you back, if they reschedule the interview more than once, if you find yourself providing the same information more than once, it’s not likely to get better once you’re hired.

I once went through a bizarrely convoluted onboarding process that took six weeks, and had to be completed before I could start, and thought, “This can’t be good …” Of course, by that point it was too late to decide not to take the job. But I quit six weeks later.

The company can’t define the role: “We’re still trying to figure it out. You’ll be doing some of this and some of that – we plan to figure it out as we go along.” A company that can’t define an exact role is not ready to hire someone. In the end, the job could wind up being wildly different from what you set out to do.

Or if you speak to two different people who seem to have completely different ideas of what your responsibilities will be. That means people in the company aren’t communicating properly and, again, you could wind up doing just about anything.

They’re oddly eager to fill the position: If they seem desperate, you might wonder why. Perhaps it’s a legitimate reason, like they’ve been having real trouble finding someone who is as perfectly skilled and wonderful as you. But maybe there’s another reason.

In the same way that companies don’t want to hire people who are unemployed, so should you be wary of a company that has trouble finding people who want to work there. If they want to hire you right then and there…beware.

The interviewer is inappropriate or rude: If the person interviewing you is unreasonably late, is cold or impatient, or asks inappropriate questions related to your private life, be on guard. This is not a good sign. That person is supposed to be trying to make a good impression just as much as you are. If they can’t be bothered, they’re not going to turn on the charm later. This is as good as it’s going to get.

It doesn’t feel right: While you can’t rely on your gut entirely, you’d be a fool to ignore it. If you suspect something is amiss, or if something just doesn’t feel right, pay attention to that feeling. Try to figure out what it is, or do further research until you are satisfied. And if it really feels wrong, walk away.

The reality is that not everyone is in a position to turn down a job, any job. We understand that. But if you are in a position to do so, and you spot one or more of these signs, you should consider it.