Today is Halloween, so let's begin with a spooky story about a job interview.
"The interview took me to a tumbledown building in the city's historic district. I pushed the door open to let myself in and I did not see a single person. Just a dark hallway crowded with disorganized piles of boxes and books. I called out and nobody answered. Everywhere I looked there were broken window frames, dust, fixtures with no bulbs, and dripping pipes. Somebody finally emerged from the dark to greet me. She said 'forgive our appearance, we're in transition,' and then left me alone in a dingy little room to take a test.
Later, I sat down to talk with the owners of the company, a husband and wife in identical black turtlenecks. When I asked what happened to person I was replacing, the two of them paused and gave each other a look. The wife said awkwardly, 'She just … ahh … she just wasn't a fit for us. She didn't work out.' And then she abruptly changed the subject. That was when I knew it was time to go. I can't work in an environment like that."
Sometimes a 30-minute conversation can send a clear message that an opportunity isn't right for you. Employers can get negative feelings about an interviewee, but you may get an immediate "get me out of here" vibe from employers who should be working hard to impress you. Keep an eye out for these unsettling signs — on Halloween, and always — to avoid the horrors of a haunted house!
Skeletons in the closet
Does the company have a scandal to hide? What about a bad reputation to conceal? If you suspect the answer is yes to either, proceed with caution and do some research. (That's what the internet is for!)
Is your interviewer rude or belligerent during your first meeting? Is he more than 10 minutes late with no apology or explanation? Does he cross-examine you, try to poke holes in your story, or make you feel as if you've done something wrong? This behavior won't change after you accept a job offer. Walk away now.
Cobwebs and spiders
Sometimes the location where the interview takes place tells you everything you need to know about the company. Poor upkeep, weird smells, overflowing trash, and a lack of natural light say "we don't care about this place or the people who work here." Exercise caution if your interviewer wants to meet outside of the office.
Look around as you make your way from the entrance to your interview location. Do the employees of this place seem happy and engaged, or do they seem miserable, depressed and burned out?
Gravestones and ghosts
Ask your interviewer about the company's turnover levels, and find out what happened to the person who left the job you're about to step into. If this place feels like a revolving door, or your predecessor left under questionable circumstances, look closer. Or just take your search on another direction.
For more on how to find the job that's right for you and avoid a mistake—or a professional trap—turn to the tips and resources on MyPerfectResume. Happy Halloween!