I was hired for a job to which I never showed up.
Between the time when I went in for the interview and been hired and the time I was supposed to show up for my first training shift, I did a little math and realized that in realistic terms, they were probably offering around $10/hour once you factored in all the unpaid prep time and travel. And this was for a fairly specialized, non-entry level job.
Nope’d out of that real quick.
There are of course other red flags to look out for. Here are some warning tales from Reddit.
1. Unclear expectations
Jobs where the expectations of the position aren’t clear.
The person hiring you should be able to give a clear idea of your responsibilities are day to day in a practical way.
It shows that the company understands what it wants out of the position.
I’ve worked a couple positions that had a really hard time figuring out who was supposed to do what that lead to a lot of confusion and both of them had this in the interviews.
If the company you’re working for can’t define what success in that position looks like you won’t be able to either.
2. Cherry-picking paystubs
I interviewed for an independent contractor position on a piece rate. It’s hard to predict how much you’re going to earn on a piece rate, so to attract me the manager showed me some paystubs from his guys. I noticed that:
1) He could easily cherry pick paystubs to show my his best guys best weeks. All that tells me is that I’m likely to make less than what he’s showing me, at least on average.
2) The paystubs were obviously designed to be confusing. They were a full page and absolutely covered in data. He wanted me to be impressed by a dollar amount (obviously not accounting for costs which the contractor has to carry or taxes which the contractor has to deduct and pay) but he took them away before anyone could have deciphered what the pay period, piece rate, number of jobs or kms was.
3) He showed me other people paystubs! wtf??
Another red flag is that they were desperate to hire, because they didn’t have enough contractors to deliver the work contracts they’d already sold. I had two guys from different offices call me after I’d declined the position who apparently still thought I was considering it.
3. Phone buckets
I went into an interview for a low-level admin position, and they made my put my cell phone in a bucket up front, stating “no phones are allowed in the back. it reduces productivity.”
Big NOPE for me.
4. Never-ending shifts
I came in for a job interview at 7:30 PM. The entire staff was still in the office. Should have known right then that 9 to 5 was not ever going to happen.
One day I worked until 2:30 AM to finish up a big project, and my boss said to me I could come in an hour later the next morning. Gee thanks bro, with my public transport/travel time that gives me a solid 2 hours of sleep instead of just the one.
5. “Don’t discuss pay”
If they tell you not to discuss pay.
I never ever followed this rule. It’s important to find a way to broach the subject with your coworkers.
If they are of the mind frame that it’s impolite to ask someone their pay then tell them yours and pay very close attention.
Do they smile a bit? Do they look disappointed? Try to gauge from that.
Because “we don’t discuss pay” has always been a way to hold down wages and nothing else.
It’s illegal but unfortunately it occurs anyway
6. “Strong personality” culture
“do you have a strong personality” meant everyone else who worked there were raging c**ts who i literally got into massive shouting matches with and quit over within 6 months of having started.
The money was good but no ty.
7. Lots of stress
I once turned down a job offer because they mentioned that the previous person in the position had quit after a few months, and most of the people I interviewed with seemed stressed out.
My gf once during interview, whilst touring the business premises (with the director of development) asked “do you do flexible working, or work from home some days”
The development director looked longingly as if that was an un-achievable dream and said “oooh I’d love to do flexible working”
– [deleted user]
9. Too steep a learning curve
I always ask about training and learning curves. Every job I’ve had that went wrong- I notice that when that question came up they stumbled.
The current job I have, when I asked the question they had sparks in their eyes as they explained the whole process from day 1 of shadowing to the transition to working solo. And even when covid hit they managed to continue without skipping a beat.
Besides always hiring, they seem almost overly eager to say, “Yes, we could do that!” to everything you ask.
No job will have literally everything you want, and if your gut is telling you they seem to be promising a bit more than they can offer, they likely are.
11. Demanding overtime
Once an interviewer straight up asked me if I had any trouble working for free on weekends… I told them my free time is more valuable than anything and that the only way that I would work a weekend is if they are paying me and if I felt like working a weekend. She got really mad at me and ended the interview right away.
Biggest red flag I’ve ever seen because they didn’t even try to hide it.
12. Mystery documents
I was once part of a group onboarding for an IT job. They handed us all the one-page new hire “contract” and everyone except me signed immediately. When I read the paperwork, I discovered we were signing a mystery document. Clauses included “I agree to abide by the personal search and seizure security policy (attached).”
Without other pages, there was no way to determine what I was agreeing to.
I kept requesting more and more pages until the HR drone said “ok, I guess [me] is just determined to hold everyone up. We will handle you separately if you’re struggling so much.”
After I walked out and drove home, I called the hiring manager to apologize for not taking the job. He informed me that HR reported I had walked out after refusing to be drug tested
13. “You never leave here”
We cater lunch and dinner for our whole team!
Sounds like a positive, but what it means is, “We expect you to be working past dinnertime hours, and there will be a lot of social pressure to never leave, and to socialize with the team well past working hours. We don’t understand that anyone might want a life outside of work.”
Less of a problem now, hopefully, but in the tech bro heyday, this was super common.
14. Just sign here already
When you are signing all the forms they give you and you are taking your time to read over every document so that you can fully understand what you are getting into and people come in and start telling you that you don’t need to read this and that just sign here and so on.
15. Talk to somebody already there
My current boss gave me a great tip on the last interview I had. He said “Ask them if you can pick an employee to chat with about how they like the position you’re applying for. They’ll give a better impression of the place than management”.
I got the job I was interviewing for. I turned it down because the above is the kind of management I want to keep in my life. Also the place undercut my pay offer I found out which is certainly also a red flag.
16. Broken down employees
Was interviewed by a Senior programmer and the department head.
The department head was continuously making condescending remarks towards the other interviewer.
Poor guy just sounded broken. Hope he’s somewhere else now.
17. Tricking people into training their replacements
I had an interview once, the owner of the company told me he was going to hire me, let the man in the office train me, then fire that man once I was up to speed.
He also told me that sometimes employees have to hold their paycheck. And the final capper, (not that I needed it, I had already decided not to work for him) was he told me I looked like his nephew. I am female.
18. Super high turnover
I had a job interview with two people asking questions. One of them brought questions for the wrong position.
Things I found out later:
The person on the IT team who had been with the company longest had been there just under a year.
Their turnover was higher than McDonald’s – over 50% turnover annually. They had a goal to get it down to 40%.
Bonuses only get paid one year after you’ve been there… for a full calendar year, that only starts counting on January 1st. If you get hired January second 2020, you wouldn’t get your first bonus until 2022.
There was no manager for the programmers. There was no director for the IT team.
They had tracking software for your every keystroke, idle time, programs you were active in. They would question idle time, which meant people on the phone with clients would be questioned often because their computers would be idle.
There was a lot going wrong but the interview slip up wasn’t enough to really give it away in time. Suffice it to say they didn’t meet their turnover reduction goal.
Last job I worked.
“Yea, everyone here is new, but it’s totally because of covid”
“The boss doesn’t like people going out to get lunch because they’re afraid you’ll never come back, so being your own lunch”
“You’ll get weird looks if you leave on time”. It was a chinese owned company with heavy chinese work culture influence so you were expected to stay overtime all week.
Also “the people here are nice but it’s pretty stressful”.
Eta: also was told by my trainer “you want to know the best advice I can give you? Find another job”. This was like…my 2nd week in.
20. Iffy promises
This actually happened to me:
Interviewer: Do you have any questions for us?
Me: what is a challenge this department has recently faced?
Interviewer: Job security
21. Cramming multiple jobs into one person
I didn’t know it at the time, but “you’ll be wearing many hats” was a sign that they were going to give me the work of four positions and the wage of one.
I didn’t last a year there before I left and now I won’t even finish reading job ads that include that line.
22. Poor time management
I once showed up for an interview and the manager wasn’t there that day. No one called me to let me know.
The assistant manager was not apologetic for the scheduling issue at all. She was literally just like “oh, she’s not here today” in a tone that suggested I should somehow already know that. She said they would call me to reschedule some time the next week. I told her I was currently unavailable M-W but could come in any time Th-F. She said if I couldn’t make time for the interview, I probably wouldn’t be a good fit. I said okay, and went on to my other interviews and ending up working elsewhere.
You’d think that would be the end of it, but both the manager and the assistant manager bad mouthed me to a few other people in the industry, including one of my friends.
Hello? I made time for an interview. You disrespected me by not calling me to let me know it was canceled. I gave you the times I was available to reschedule, and that was disrespectful somehow?
23. Location, location, location
When you ask, “what do you like about working here” and the interviewer talks about the location of the job (“it’s a great place to live!”) instead of the actual job.
24. Tyrant bosses
At my last place of work, the person interviewing me had a printed cartoon on their wall of someone who looked like a bomb had blown up in their face, with the caption “I spoke with ‘boss’ name’ about it.. I guess we’re still doing it”.
That wasn’t subtle at all, but I ignored it. The boss was an absolute tyrant who wouldn’t listen to her staff, consider changing her mind about anything, or let people do the work they were best suited to do. She wouldn’t show up for weeks at a time. The job itself was decent, but she was the worst boss I’ve ever had.
25. Constant strikes
I was once told “Sometimes the hourly workers go on strike and they lock us in to keep the production line running, but management brings us steaks and we have an informal agreement with the unions so you can cross the picket lines once a week to visit your wife.”
26. Demanding unpaid overtime
“We don’t like ‘clockwatchers’ here. We expect everyone to be committed.”
Expecting more work for no extra pay.
Getting mad at you when you leave at 5 even though your stated work hours end a 5
27. Overly stressful environment
I once interviewed for a job wherein the interviewer actually directly told me that the job was extremely stressful and they’d had a slew of new hires quit within a month or two. (The job was at a psychiatric hospital). I thanked her for being honest with me and said that I was not interested. As she was walking me out, she leaned in and said, “you’re doing the right thing. Our last hire quit because he said he was having palpitations all the time here and was worried he would have a heart attack.”
About 3 years later, at another company, I saw one of the women who had interviewed me. She worked in a totally different position in a totally different setting. She said that the other woman who had interviewed me, the one who gave me the warning actually DID suffer a heart attack! She survived, and she stopped working there. I was so thankful she warned me. Most interviewers wouldn’t do that.
28. Beating around the bush
You get hinted at stuff or they “beat around the bush” on scheduling explanation.
Here they like to hire “part time” then schedule you 39.5 hours (or 30 minutes before full time) to avoid paying insurance and such.
29. Long commitment, no reward
I was told we want long term employment. Don’t just leave after 5-6 years. Ok. What do you pay, and what about raises? His response. $12 an hour. 3-4% increases every year. Nope. Told him I’m all set.
This was an armored truck service. I had to carry my gun and wear a vest. Which they did offer to pay for, they just took it out of your pay. $600 for handgun $400 for vest. (You had to possess a permit to carry prior to applying)
I went back to Private EMS. Same pay, but I didn’t have to protect other people’s money with my life for peanuts.
30. Crunch culture
“We work hard and we play hard.”
Translation: “You will work 60+ hours a week.
You will be expected to work late nights and early mornings.
People will treat this job like their whole life.
We’ll also underpay you.
It may look like a decent salary but when you back it out to hourly it’s not even remotely competitive with industry standard.
But we have kegs and a ping pong table.”
Also, if everyone that interviews you has been there less than two years, it’s a sign that they can’t retain good employees.
So, yanno. Avoid all that.
What else would you add to this list?
Tell us in the comments.