6 Reasons to Turn Down a Job Offer

woman refusing to sign contract or divorce

By Susan Price

Job seekers can get so focused on landing a new gig that they may not pay attention to signals that the job, boss or company isn't all that great.

The red flags might be flying during your interview, but you're so busy talking about how well you work with your team or your killer sales record that you don't see them. Or you pretend you don't see them. You pretend you don't hear the interviewer complain about a colleague or working long hours. Or you decide it's no big deal that she interrupted your interview twice to take a call.

If getting the job means a big jump in pay, or if you've been looking for work for a while with no luck, you're more likely to be wearing blinders. But you have to remove these blinders if you don't want to be job hunting again in a few months.

The good news is that there are usually clues during the interview process that you are heading for trouble. Spot any of these signs, and you may want to turn down an offer:

Your interviewer is late. Being a few minutes late for an interview is no big deal. However, if someone is 15 or 20 minutes late, that's another story, particularly if your interviewer doesn't appear to care. Being on time is a sign of respect.

Rescheduling your interview a few times doesn't bode well, either. Your interviewer might be overworked or disorganized, and you really don't want to work in that situation.

Your interviewer hasn't reviewed your résumé. If the hiring manager isn't familiar with your background, you have to wonder why you are being interviewed at all. Hiring managers who haven't taken the time to read your résumé aren't doing their job.

Ideally, the hiring manager and your potential boss will have called you in because they've carefully read and discussed your résumé and read your online profiles. If they haven't done this, they're not invested enough in bringing in the right person, or they're just desperate to hire someone.

There's confusion about the position. Sometimes you get called in for an interview through a referral or because you have great résumé, and the manager is trying to figure out where you fit. You may wind up getting hired, but the job you get might not be best suited to you.

Taking a job because you like the company or the manager isn't enough. Try to pin down specifics about what you will do and how you will be evaluated. Can't get them? Walk away.

Your interviewer checks email. It's just too rude. And if someone is that uninterested in what you are saying, chances are you aren't getting hired anyway.

The department has a lot of turnover. During your interview, ask why the previous employee in that position resigned, as well as how long that employee had been in the job and with the company. When you meet other team members, ask them about their career paths as well.

If many team members are recent hires, be sure there is good business reason for the hiring spree, such as a new product or client or a round of funding. Otherwise, too much employee churn hints at a toxic boss or culture.

You hear negative comments or read them online. If your interviewer criticizes the person you will be replacing, team members, a boss or even the company, don't overlook it. It isn't professional, and it might mean you will be working for someone who doesn't respect other people or is impossible to please.

Pay attention to negative comments in online reviews of the company as well. A few negative reviews are one thing; there are always a few disgruntled employees. But if there are many, consider yourself warned. Look for patterns in the comments, too. If the same negative words or phrases pop up in many reviews, such as "political," "lacking vision" or "endless hours," the problem might be the culture or the leadership, rather than a single manager.

Remember: This is your career, and you deserve a good one.

Susan Price writes about work, money and entrepreneurs. She covers careers for Ivy Exec.