There's no guarantee during the interview and application process that you'll land a job that fulfills your every need, from salary requirements to fulfilling day-to-day responsibilities. But there's a wide gap between a job that's not quite perfect and one that's an utter nightmare. No one wants a nightmare job.
A truly terrible job is more than just a bad fit — it saps confidence and energy, leaving you frantic for an exit plan. With some jobs, it can be a question of personality and skills. If you're an introvert, for instance, and the job requires attending nightly social events to drive sales, you may never feel comfortable, successful, or happy. Other times, a bad job can be a matter of a negative, undercutting manager, a company in financial trouble, or many other factors.
6 Signs That a Job Will Be a Nightmare
If you'll lucky, you'll never have a role like this during your career. To help increase your luck, keep an eye out for these clues during the interview process that you could be headed to a nightmare job.
1. The Interview Process Is Deeply Disorganized
If you have to interview with several executives, it's understandable if meetings sometimes need to get moved. Still, if every interview is rescheduled, or if people are consistently late or unprepared when they meet with you, that's a bad sign.
Take note if email responses are always slow or if people are rude in their communications.
Just think: If the company is this disorganized during the interview process when they are trying to make a good impression, what will it be like when you're employed with the company?
2. You Hear Complaints and People Look Unhappy
Of course, it's easy for online reviews—particularly semi-anonymous ones—to be negative. So, as well as checking for online impressions, listen during your interview to what people say about the company. Ask potential peers, "What's the company culture like here?" Keep an ear out for complaints (particularly ones you hear over and over again).
As well, look around the office on your way into the interview to get a sense of the vibe. Is there someone choking back tears in a corner? Can you overhear a conversation, because someone's voice is raised? Do the signs in the bathroom seem weirdly accusatory or angry? Maybe people are just having a bad day, but this could also be a clue that morale is low and employees are unhappy.
3. Interviewers Give a Really Hard Sell
It's flattering to be wanted. But there's a big difference between an interviewer saying, "You seem like a good fit " and offering you the job. Be skeptical of on-the-spot job offers: Unless the company is very small, it's odd for there not to be some sort of internal conversation that takes place before a job offer. This could be a sign that the company is a little too desperate and needy (or it could be that they know if they give you time to research the company, you won't turn up anything good).
Another thing to watch for? A manager that just doesn't seem compatible with your work style. If your interviewer is disparaging about other employees, for instance, and you know you respond best to thoughtful critiques and cooperative team atmospheres, you may struggle to connect or form a positive working relationship.
4. The Negotiation Process Feels Like It's Happening With an Enemy
Everyone wants a deal but if a company offers below-market wages for no reason is a bad sign. Why play such excessive hardball? Will you ever get a raise, or will the company always be stingy? While it's natural for candidates to seek the highest possible salary and benefits, and for employers to offer the lowest possible amount, the amount the employer offers should still be reasonable. And, ideally, throughout the job negotiations, you should feel on the same page as a potential employer, and as though you're working toward achieving a resolution that works for both of you.
5. You Just Can't Figure out What You'll Be Responsible For
One interviewer tells you that you'll need to manage four employees. Another one says you won't have any management responsibilities. Which is it?
If it's unclear what you'll be doing in the role, or if you can't get a consistent response from interviewers, keep asking until you can find out a solid answer.
And, if you still can't tell, consider withdrawing your candidacy. Even for a new company or start-up, there should be some clarity about your responsibilities. Otherwise, how can you—or your manager–know if you're performing well?
Bottom line: the job description for the position should be clear, and the way people describe the role should mirror it. Your interviewers should also be able to share details about perks and benefits, and career advancement at the company.
6. High Turnover
It's natural for people to move in and out of companies. These days, few people stay with a single company long enough to get a gold watch upon retirement. But, sometimes a company will have a near-exodus. That could be nothing—or it could indicate poor management, a company without a profitable future, or any number of problems.
One way to get insight can be to inquire about your predecessor. There are all sorts of reasons the person in the role might have left, but the interviewer's response may be revealing.