As job seekers, we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves when it comes to preparing for and going on job interviews. So it can be easy to overlook red flags that point to an employer, job or work environment not being a good fit for you. Realistically, no job will ever meet all of your expectations. But there are actually quite a few signs that can indicate if your next career move may be the wrong one for you.
The vague job description. If a hiring manager or supervisor is unable to give you detailed information about what the role’s responsibilities include and what the day-to-day of the work looks like, you may not be on a job interview. The employer may be trying to figure out how to define a new role or how to revamp an existing position. Your questions are helping them gauge what candidates will expect from the job. On the other hand, the job might just not be clearly defined and that’s how the employer operates. In either case, the interview isn’t likely to amount to anything more than a waste of time for the job candidate.
The interview process isn’t commensurate to the role. By the end of the first interview, you’ll want to ask for details on what to expect during the interview process. That is, how many rounds of interviews will a successful candidate need to complete, with whom will those interviews take place and will any written tasks be assigned during the process.
The interviewer speaks badly of the previous person in the position. One of the first rules of interviewing for a job is to never speak poorly of a past employer because that will reflect badly on the candidate. The same rule also applies to employers. If they complain about a former employee, you should question if the employer is challenging to work for because both parties are usually at fault when relationships sour. Take note of what they say about a predecessor.
Communication leading up to the interview is inconsistent. Another good gauge of what you can expect from a potential employer is how consistently they communicate prior to the actual interview. Are the interviewers showing as much interest and excitement as you? If not, you might consider taking a pass on the interview invite or adjust your expectations.
“Fun” perks are highlighted as part of the compensation. Whether you’re looking for an hourly job or a salaried position that includes benefits like health insurance, the actual dollar amount that the employer is a high priority for all.
However, when employers attempt to make frivolous perks like free snacks sound like a generous aspect of the compensation, watch out. Those meaningless perks can be good barometers of an employer’s goodwill toward its employees. –Just think of what future raises could look like. Here are a few common “perks” that don’t have much financial upside:
- “Unlimited paid time off.” The unfortunate reality is that there’s no such thing. If an employer were truly willing to give staff unlimited paid time off, we would all take the full time pay in exchange for part time work. So ask for clarity in the interview. The employer will have a maximum number of weeks per year that employees can take as vacation time. You might also consider asking if the time is earned, accrued and paid out if unused or if it can be rolled over to the following year.
- Company-organized staff outings and volunteer opportunities. Sure, these might be good team building events. But unless a full day or half day of work is dedicated to team building, are you really going to dedicate your free time to company functions if the time is unpaid? We’re all adults. We’re all capable of inviting coworkers to meet up outside of work in order to socialize or to find a charitable organization that we’re passionate about and want to give out time to. When employers organize these types of activities to make them official, they’re often employers that struggle to recognize that employees should have time away from work.
- Take note of well-being programs. The human resources industry has latched on to the term “well-being” in the past decade or so. As a result, human resources departments at companies across the country –including hospitality businesses—often include perks intended to improve employees’ physical and mental well-being. Some, such as discounted gym memberships, have value.
Of course, working in the hospitality industry can come with its own set of perks. Free or discounted meals and hotel stays may be available, feel free to ask about these when an employer brings up benefits and perks.