5 signs you’re interviewing for a horrible job (and how to leave gracefully)
You read a job listing that is exactly what you’re looking for as the next step in your career. You send in your resume and get called in for an interview, but something seems off. Are you interviewing for a horrible job? Here are five red flags and what you can do if you spot them.
There is no solid job description
Roles evolves over time, but the employer should have a clear idea of the position’s responsibilities – and the skills required to carry them out – from the start. Most companies or recruiters will provide you with a written description of the job and what they are looking for in an ideal candidate, and there should be no ambiguity about what your role would entail.
Your interviewer can’t sell the job
A job interview is not only a chance for you to prove your potential to a company; it’s also an important opportunity for the company to sell the job to you. Your interviewer should devote a portion of the interview to explaining the role and its key selling points. If the interviewer neglects to do so or is unable to provide a convincing argument, this could be a sign the role isn’t nearly as ideal as you once thought.
The interviewer asks inappropriate questions
Employers must have a clear understanding of what questions they are and are not allowed to ask in an interview. Under The Human Rights Act, it is discriminatory and illegal for an employer to make hiring decisions based on factors including age, marital status, religion, disabilities that don’t relate directly to the job, political beliefs, race or ancestry, or criminal records that are irrelevant to the role’s responsibilities. If your interviewer asks you about any of these topics, it is well within your rights to refrain from answering, and, more importantly, it’s a significant sign you may want to reconsider working for this employer.
You just can’t see yourself working with the people you’ve met
In the job application process, you’ll likely interact with at least a few people from the company: a hiring manager, your potential teammates, support staff, and more. What vibes do they give you? Do they seem to be enthusiastic about their roles and the company? Do you perceive a positive rapport between employees, or could you cut the tension with a knife? Do they seem like people who would inspire your own productivity and creativity and make you eager to come to work each day?
The interviewer is unable to answer your questions
The interview is your chance to assess whether the role is right for you, so don’t hesitate to ask questions about the position. Doing so demonstrates your interest in the job and can give you important insights into the role and company. What is the work environment like, and how is the relationship between employees? If anything strikes you as the slightest bit fishy, pursue that line of questions to determine if there would be a problem if you took the position.
So, what happens if, during your interview, it becomes abundantly clear to you that this simply is not the right place for you to work?
How do you bow out of the application process gracefully?
Complete the interview
If you can, stick the interview out until the end. What could come across as a red flag at the start could turn around by the end, and you may be able to directly confront any issues that arise and have your interviewer iron them out. Even if you are unable to turn prospects around, you’ll likely be finished within less than an hour.
Don’t burn any bridges
Even if you are 100% convinced that you have no desire to work for this company, you never know how the connections you’ve made in this interview process could benefit your career in the future, so do what you can to maintain a positive relationship. Your interviewer may later be employed by your dream company, or circumstances within the company may change and you’ll decide to reapply for a job there in several years. Leave all options open.
Once you have determined the job is wrong for you, be sure to communicate clearly with your main point of contact about why you are no longer interested in the role. If your contact is an agency recruiter, they will be able to use this feedback to find you more suitable positions elsewhere. An internal recruiter or hiring manager, meanwhile, may be able to refer you to other roles or divisions within the company.
Even if the interview was a total nightmare and your instinct is to run screaming, give yourself some time to step back, get into a rational mindset, and provide positive but constructive feedback. For example, rather than complaining about the uselessness of the department manager, suggest that you are looking for a role in which a supervisor could provide more hands-on support. Anything that comes across as overly negative or critical could be taken as a poor indication of your character, and you never know when a positive relationship with the company will come in handy.
Learn from the experience
After you’ve bowed out of the application process, spend some time thinking over how and why it went wrong and what positive qualities – or, alternatively, warning signs— you can keep an eye out for when applying to other roles. Rather than getting frustrated about having devoted time to what turned out to be a disappointing opportunity, remember that you’re now one step closer to finding the right job.
Just as every person you date doesn’t have to be the person you marry for the rest of your life, neither does every job you interview for have to be the one you take. Remember, there will be other interviews, so if something rubs you the wrong way, move on. Shop around, stay optimistic about your prospects, and, before you know it, you’ll be in your dream role. Good luck!