When A Job Offer Gives You That Sinking Feeling

In my view, the recruitment process is as much about “gut feel” as it is about rational decisions. For the candidate, the job search has no doubt been a stressful experience, and 9 times out of 10 you are delighted to be offered a role. However, evolution has given humans that sixth sense when something  doesn’t seem quite right, and when that feeling comes along after a job offer, it is important to dig deeper and understand why. The pressure to accept a job offer can be considerable, but if these warning signs are present, then it may be worth politely declining.

1.) Communication is unprofessional or disrespectful. If a company is interested in your candidacy, then they should reply to all correspondence in good time and in detail. If they are unprofessional with their internal customers, then they are likely to act in the same way with their external customers.

2.) There is a lack of trust during the hiring process. Employers should be open and candid in all communication – you have the right to ask as many questions as you like. If they are reluctant to answer without a good reason (i.e. sensitive information, etc) then you have to ask yourself why they don’t trust you.

3.) Employees seem unhappy and dispirited. Now this is a red flag. If there is a toxic atmosphere around the office, then no one can work productively. Take a walk around, maybe have a chat to a few of the current employees. Approach previous employees on social media to understand the company culture.

4.) The company has a bad reputation. A company’s reputation reflects on its employees, and this issue could affect your future employability. There are many ways to investigate a company’s relationship with their clients and customers – Twitter is just one example! If people express doubts, for whatever reason, you might consider your options.

5.) You don’t think you’ll get along with people. You spend the majority of your life at work, and while it is important that you get on with your direct boss, relationships with your colleagues are equally important. This is a difficult one to understand, but take any chance to have conversations with others to gauge the type of people you will be working with.

6.) If the job specification is unclear and there are no success criteria. If they aren’t clear about your job role, how can you be certain that you will be able to deliver? In any new job, your goal should be to meet their expectations from the first day. Ask for a written job description, and understand what they expect of you in the first three months.

7.) They want to hire you without any background checks. An employer who cares about their people will want to ensure that they are only hiring the most suitable candidate. An interview process without detailed referencing is a huge risk to any company.

8.) They want to pay you peanuts. Do you feel that they are paying you in line with your experience? Is the salary competitive in the market? Are they trying to save on your benefits package and bonus scheme? If they want you, they should listen to your reasoned arguments and hopefully move a little in your direction. If they are trying to save money on your financial package, what does that tell you about their financial position?

9.) The office looks like a bomb site. If the environment in which you will be working is less than desirable, what does this tell you about the calibre of your future colleagues and the priority the company puts on their wellbeing?

You should remember that there are many ways to assuage your doubts, and have the patience and determination to get to the bottom of your unease. It is expected that you would want to do your “due diligence” on the company, and if any company has an issue with you digging a little deeper, then that really is a red flag.


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