Avoid Being Fooled Into Taking A Bad Job By Asking These Questions

If your job sucks, and there's nothing you can do about it, you may be tempted to look for another one. Be careful: remember job interviews are sales pitches as well as candidate evaluations, and all that glitters may not be gold. Here are some ways to cut through the pitch and find out if you're walking into a situation that may be as crappy as your last one.

Photo by AlexandreNunes

We've mentioned before that job interviews are an opportunity for a potential employer to learn more about you, but also for you to learn about the company. The trouble is that they're also a sales pitch: you pitch yourself and your skills to the company, and the company pitches itself to you in the best possible light. It's not uncommon to interview for a job, think everything is great, and work there for a few weeks only to find out you're expected to travel more than you thought, or the hours are much longer than advertised, or your boss is nothing like he or she was in the interview.

You don't have to be fooled though; a couple of pointed questions during the interview will help cut through the fog. Over at On Careers, they suggest a few interview questions you may want to ask (if the position you're applying for warrants them):

Factual

  • What is the turnover rate for this position?
  • Do you have any statistics regarding employee engagement? (Some companies do surveys.)
  • Can I see the full, official job description?
  • Who will I be working with most and can I meet them?

Perception-based

  • Can you tell me about the company culture?
  • Can you tell me about the dynamics of the team I'll be working with?

Some of these may be a bit more direct than you want to be, and some hiring managers may not have the data on hand that you're looking for, but it's safe to ask about things like turnover, to see the full job description, and even what the person who was doing the job you're applying for is doing now (that is, whether they quit or got promoted.)

Similarly, asking about the company culture and how well the team you work with likes each other and gets along with one another are great ways to determine whether you'll be working with a tight-knit team that actually enjoys one another's company or an adversarial set of colleagues who can barely stand one another. Also, research the company a bit on the web and see if you can find testimonials from old employees on sites like Glassdoor. That information can go a long way to help you make a smart decision if you're offered a job.

How to Not Get Fooled in the Interview [On Careers: US News Money]


Comments

    Oh good, so I can spend half the interview interviewing them.

      Why not, it's your life, get out of it what you can.

      Not sure why youre not already doing it - its a must so that you dont walk into a job that you dont want to be in. Interviews are a two way street, not just that you need to impress them, but they also need to impress you enough to want the job and want to succeed in it.

      At my latest interview I asked my (now) manager:

      1. Is the current position vacant?
      2. If yes, why did the other person leave?
      3. What has been the turn over for this position?
      4. Describe the company culture
      5. Describe the team culture
      6. If I do get the job, what can I expect during my first day, week and month in the role?

      These types of questions are really important to ask in case you get called to another interview for a job that you're also excited about and could make the difference in assisting your decision to land in a role that is a better fit for you.

      You really should be. You may find the position is way worse than the one your leaving.

    I asked all these sorts of questions... They lied. It wasn't even the job I applied for.

      Yeah, it's frustrating in some areas of work (definitely in IT/Web it seems) where the role can change (or when the interviewer(s) straight up lie about the duties). I'm in the same boat... Now frustrated and looking for a new role because of the changing for the worse role I'm in.

        Er.. I can't say i've ever come across anything like that.. I've always simply asked for a copy of the job description. Why would you enter into an employment contract without knowing the terms of your employment? That's like going and buying a car on loan without checking the interest rate then blaming the bank..

        Obviously if they refuse to give you a written job description or simply don't have one written and prepared, run for the hills.

          A lot of job descriptions seem to have been written from the Cliche 101 manual - just full of rubbish about being part of a team, customer engagement and satisfying arcane technical requirements. Most of these are not useful at distinguishing the job from many others and are indirect guides at best. That said, any company that writes such BS should be strenuously avoided.

            You're right I guess - your JD is just how you would judge it at the interview stage. You could potentially bring civil action for lost income against them though if your employment contract was directly contrary to the JD you had been given at interview.

            That said you're correct - it is still your job on the signing date to ensure you agree to all terms of employment. The job description once signed is irrelevant. Most contracts also include "reasonable other duties" which can be wide ranging.

    Won't the interviewers be spinning the company just as much as the interviewee? You would have to be very lucky to get anything out of it. :-)

      They might, but they're fools to do it. It costs a fair bit to recruit staff, and if you lie to them about the job they usually won't stay long.

      Meeting your coworkers would always be good. Nobody should be lying though, as @thom says - it's SALES not tricking someone to ruin their life heh.

      Last edited 12/03/13 11:23 pm

    Beware small companies that are undergoing lots of change, and want to hire you to be an 'important part' of that change. For a small company, big change means high risk, and that means your job might be at great risk from day one - because if anything goes wrong, it becomes a case of last in, first out.

    Twice, I made the mistake of joining small companies that had just won their first big contracts, and desperately needed more people to work on them. In both cases, problems arose very quickly with the client that resulted in job losses that could have been prevented had there been better planning, management, and more importantly risk management. Questions about these risks that I asked during interviews were all answered confidently, but inaccurately. Once employed, I quickly realised how little planning had been done.

      A lot of companies go under in their first few years. As long as you are handling your own problems, then I wouldn't worry about it. How would you feel as a start up which couldn't attract skilled labor just because of a risk heh.

      It depends what you want though obviously, some people just want a single continuous line of a job/career path for 20 years and that's understandable, but it's rarely how most people become truly successful.

    Some good tips there but mainly to really open the communications up in my opinion. 10/10

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