Five Signs the Job Will Suck

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bad jobBeth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

Hindsight is 20/20, but might there have been clues during the interview that this job was going to suck? Improve your vision by keeping an eye out for these red flags.


1. You get asked strange questions

Web developer Dave Haynes thought it was a bit odd when a potential boss asked if he was offended by cursing. "I said, 'No, I curse sometimes myself. No big deal.'" But after taking the job, it became apparent why the topic had come up. "The boss cursed ALL the time. Every sentence that came out of his mouth was filled with negativity and cursing. He cursed in e-mails and in comments in the code for the software we were writing. He cursed so much that I actually was offended (and later quit)."

Watch out, too, for questions that might offer insight about an employer's biases and managerial style. Jim Crawford (name changed by request) was perplexed when an interviewer at a large daily newspaper asked if he could "design like a woman." Crawford later resigned after discovering that he was expected to "prove" himself on tabloids targeting parents and seniors before actually getting to perform the magazine design work he'd been hired to do.

Likewise, Laura Milligan of Houston quit her office assistant job after three weeks of dealing with a boss who "badgered me, insulted me and had a hard time accepting that I had to ask questions since I was new." The tip-off that could have spared her the fiasco: The interviewer had asked, "How are you with micromanagers?"


2. Nobody seems happy to be there

Take a look around the workplace. Does the receptionist greet people with a smile? Do workers seem content? If the people already employed there look bored or worn out, chances are you will be, too.

Similarly, note the interviewer's behavior. Someone who answers incoming calls, checks e-mails or shuffles through other résumés while you're speaking may be foreshadowing a lack of respect for your position.


3. You get a whiff of dirty laundry

"Company dirty laundry aired in public never tends to lead to a positive result for a new hire," says Alan Guinn, managing director and CEO of the Guinn Consultancy Group in Bristol, Tenn. Proceed with caution if you are allowed a front-row seat to employee disagreements while visiting.

Other signs that unfavorable things may be going on:

  • The interviewer or others you meet are sarcastic about the company. There might be truth behind those jests.
  • Someone privately warns you whom to stay away from.
  • The interviewer quickly changes the subject when asked general questions about the company's future. It might mean she isn't expecting one.

4. Your position doesn't have a title (or a start date or a job description)

While you might be anxious simply to land a job, not getting a clear outline of your duties from the get-go can lead to stress later on. Marilyn Santiesteban, a director of career services from Waltham, Mass., warns of possible trouble if "during the hiring process each interviewer has a different idea of the scope and responsibilities of the position."

Guinn adds that you might be playing Russian roulette with your career if the interviewer can't provide basics such as whom you'll be reporting to. "The phrase 'That's still under review' actually means, 'We can't decide who to stick you with, but we'll figure it out by the time you come aboard.'"


5. Your gut tells you to run

Despite getting offered a position on the spot, Crystal Washington burst into tears when her boyfriend inquired about her interview with a large hotel chain. "The financial offer was good, and the hotel was located in Houston's bustling medical center area, 10 minutes away from my home. Logically, it was the perfect fit," Washington says.

With no "hard" evidence, Washington felt foolish declining but went with her gut. Two months later, the medical center property was shut down, and the hotel was demolished to make way for a new development.

While you might not be able to put a finger on what somebody did or said (or didn't say) that makes you uneasy, the bottom line is to trust yourself. "Most people have pretty good radar," Santiesteban says. "If it feels wrong, it probably is."


Next: 20 Biggest Workplace Anxiety Triggers >>

Beth Braccio Hering researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for CareerBuilder.com. Follow @CBForJobSeekers on Twitter.

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