a cautionary tale + some real world advice
A story I’ve heard more than once: a posting for the perfect job appears. You apply. Astonishingly, you get a call and an interview request shortly thereafter. You go in. The office is gorgeous. The people seem to be exactly the kind you’d like to work for (and with). After the requisite number of interviews, they tell you an offer is forthcoming.
You’re elated ~ this came together so effortlessly! It seems like a great next step. You’re ready to give notice and climb aboard this new train.
Is this the real thing? Or is it too good to be true? Of course you do your research, like reading Glassdoor reviews.
What constitutes a red flag? Here are the most-common:
- You didn’t meet or talk with your new leader or future peers (true story!).
- The reason the position is open is vague or hasn’t been explained to your satisfaction.
- You’re not a senior leader or C-level exec, but you’re asked to come in for an inordinate number of interviews (>3).
- You’re going to be in a leadership role, but your request to meet with your future team without your prospective leader in the room is denied.
- There isn’t a clear set of measurable expectations for your success (ie: “If we fast forward 3-6 months, what should I have accomplished in order to be on track?”).
- The offer, the position, the speed with which it all came together is amazing, but you still have this niggling feeling that there’s something you’re not being told.
- OR things move quickly at first, but then drag out for weeks or months, with a lot of unexplained communication gaps.
- The salary is okay but the bonus potential is fantastic. However, they can’t quite come up with the track record for bonus payouts, confirm when bonuses are paid or describe the parameters / requirements for qualifying.
- There’s disturbing press about the company or negative word on the street. You inquire, but your interview team is not forthcoming about what’s being done to address it or fix the problem.
- You ask about the company’s mission / vision and the C-level exec says, “I guess we’d better get one.”
Some general guidelines for your due diligence:
- Meet with 360 degrees (subordinates, peers, leaders). Extra credit if you have friends on the inside and/or vendors with a trustworthy lens into the company (ie. do they pay their bills?)
- Get a satisfactory answer for why the position’s open, especially if there have been several people in the role within the last few years.
- Know what will be expected of you. Corollary: make sure your leadership is invested in your success.
- Trust your gut. If you have doubts, slow down and find out why.
- If the bonus is a large part of the compensation, know what you need to do to achieve it and what the payment history has been.
None of these red flags mean you should automatically decline an offer. They ARE indicators that you need more data. Asking too many questions during the interview process makes some folks uncomfortable ~ they worry that their chances of being hired will be clipped.
You’re vetting your future company to the same degree that they’re vetting you. If you can’t satisfy your curiosity without getting kicked to the curb, is this a place you want to work?
And…what other opportunities are you letting go of for this one?
Questions are good.
Red flags can also be good.
Answers are better. Get them before you make big decisions.
I use my recruiting + writing experience
to help mid-career professionals better-define
their professional brand.
Curious? Let’s talk.
Here’s a link to schedule a 15-minute, no-strings-attached call.