By Christina Nguyen
Even in the toughest hiring periods such as the current pandemic, it’s important to keep in mind that, as a candidate, you’re evaluating the business as much as the business is evaluating you. And if’s a good workplace, that business will want to make a good first impression, putting its best foot forward in order to attract the best candidates.
Unfortunately, not every business demonstrates this during the interviewing leaving the impression it wouldn’t necessarily care about the workplace environment either – a definite warning sign. And, even if the interviewers are clearly putting in some effort, some signs often leak out here and there that may signal deeper issues.
Here are a few warning signs that should make you think twice about joining a company.
While interviews lasting over 2 hours can be mentally exhausting, unusually short interviews don’t leave a great taste either. This is especially true if your interviewers seem rushed, uninterested, and eager to get up and walk away from you.
Unless the interviewer gives you a specific, sensible reason why they had to leave so soon, short interviews are usually a sign that they aren’t interested in getting to know you. This could be for a personal reason, such as making a snap decision that you’re not a great fit, or they just aren’t interested in getting to know anyone in general. If you value camaraderie and effective communication, the company probably isn’t an ideal fit.
Part of getting to know a candidate is asking the right questions – some more in-depth, some that are more generic. If the interview predominantly consists of overly generic questions, that’s not a great sign. Look for marketing questions that make you think, or make you explain how you used a particular concept or theory.
If it’s a boss asking those questions, look for include ones that show that individual understands the role that you’re applying for. Contrary to what you might think about enjoying a hands-off boss, you probably want one that knows more than you do – as that individual likely won’t be able to teach you anything if they don’t really know marketing.
Lastly, it sometimes happens that interviewers ask blatantly inappropriate, intrusive, sometimes illegal questions during interviews – such as your marital status or ethnicity. If that happens, it’s time to run away.
If you haven’t been asked the most interesting questions, the best-case scenario is that the interviewers just aren’t great with interviews or maybe simply haven’t coordinated as a group. If you think there’s a chance that they can redeem themselves, you can ask them some additional probing questions of your own.
In particular, a few good ones include: a. Understanding the particular skills the company is looking for, both marketing- and non-marketing related; b. Asking the interviewers about the view of continuous education and training for marketing-related skills; and c. For the boss, specific marketing-knowledge-related questions about strategy or tactics.
Pay attention to their answers. Similar to the questions they ask you, these answers should be genuine, well thought-out, and non-generic. If they tell you that the best part of the job is leaving right at 5 p.m. every day, that’s not too promising.
Not every interviewer can make every interview on time. Sometimes previous meetings run over, or people get called away. If he happens to show up late, does the interviewer apologize sincerely for keeping you waiting? If the interviewers are more than 20 minutes late, a quick apology without an explanation (or even worse, no eye contact) isn’t ideal. It means they didn’t take you seriously enough, and didn’t care about how they represented the company.
The verbal, face-to-face nature of job interviews normally give you an even clearer picture of what the job will be like. If interviewers struggle to give you a detailed description of your expectations and responsibilities, that’s a sign that they’re not too invested in the role, or that your job may not be as great as advertised.
The job interview isn’t just about the interview itself, but an opportunity to physically scope out the office (if you’re doing an in-person interview, that is). Do the employees look content to be there? Or are they hunched over with a moody, sour energy? Remember to look at more than one department since you never know when a normally chipper department could be hit with a particularly stressful period.
Don’t forget that the company has to convince you that it’s a quality place to work, as much as you are trying to convince them that you have the skills and knowledge to succeed in a role. Even if you absolutely need a new gig, it’s never a good idea just to take “anything” that comes along. The culture and the workplace environment matter, so make sure it’s a fit. Good luck!
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