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Identifying Interview Danger Signs

There are clear signs the job markets are heating up again. Regardless, don’t think that means getting hired is any easier; companies are still screening and scrutinizing candidates more than ever. And so should you be also, screening and evaluating the people and companies for which you might work for.

Often, at our own peril, we ignore our instincts when we sense something’s amiss. Or, we acknowledge it but dismiss our concerns for whatever reason(s). The same holds true when we interview for a job, only to realize after the fact in hindsight we’ve made a mistake. Something just didn’t seem right but you failed to address it and by the time you realize it – it’s too late.

A question if I may – if there was information, that of which you became aware and which would prevent you from accepting a job, when would you prefer to learn about it — during the interview process or later, at the water cooler?

The question was rhetorical; obviously by the time you receive a job offer, both parties involved should have had all questions or concerns satisfactorily resolved. Exclaiming, “I should’ve known better” doesn’t change anything. I mean, really, I doubt you’ll ever attend an interview where they might say, “Yeah, this job is open because it sucks and nobody’s stayed longer than 6 months. But we can’t find anyone internally willing to do it and we’ve gotta fill it.” Even if that were the truth, it is more likely you’ll be told the rosy portrayal about how great it is, in the hopes you won’t ask them any uncomfortable questions. Conversely, it might be a great job but if you don’t ask any questions and sit mute, answering only that which is asked of you, they’re very likely to conclude you’re not the sharpest candidate among their other choices. Asking questions demonstrates you are not just there, but you’re there and taking the event seriously. Now, if you opt to coast along, only going through the motions and choose to sit there like a dummy speaking only when spoken to, dutifully nodding and smiling when you think you should to show interest – well then, pardon me but you are a dummy; often, perception is reality.

Granted, you’ll never really know what will be until you start a new job. Therefore, you owe it to yourself during the interview process to learn as much as you can, by asking questions to gain as much information as you possibly can, because there is always more to be concerned with than simply the job title, duties, and money.

There are questions you will formulate during the course of the each interview you attend, but here are some examples of questions you should ask during the first interview of almost any job you’d consider:

  • Why is the position open?
  • What happened to the last person in the position?
  • How long were they in the position?
  • And the person before…?
  • Can you describe for me, a typical workday (for this role)?
  • Can you tell me something about the company culture?
  • What is the level of urgency to fill this position (when do you need someone to start)?
  • How long have you (the interviewer) been with the company?

These questions will help you to make a better informed and more confident decision.

As you navigate through the interview process you should be asking questions every step of the way, if you don’t do so you are not really an active participant but rather a passenger. If you do nothing to influence the direction of your own career you’d better hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.