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Reading the warning signs at job interviews early on

Reading the warning signs at job interviews early onImage Credit: Supplied

There is a lot of pressure associated with going for a job interview. Your friends and family may be excited and wish you luck. You may also be flattered to be selected for an interview and hoping to score the job.

That is why if the interview turns out to be disappointing, you may find yourself unsure on what to do. Should you be the one to withdraw from the hiring process?

If you have been unemployed and have plenty of time, exploring different options regardless of whether they materialise or not may not hurt. But sometimes going to interviews that are not right for you is like dating. You don't want to end up with the wrong job just because you didn't run early enough. And you don't want to waste time that can be spent finding the right fit.

So what makes a job or an interview appear to be a step on the wrong path? There are, in fact, many factors, including the corporate culture, the job description as presented during an interview, any warning signs about the company or coworkers or supervisor, or simply seeing right through the interview that you are not the right fit.

Although you may be tempted to stick with the process regardless, it is important to know when to make a strategic move and stop pursuing this prospect. Here is how you can deal with each of the mentioned factors.

Corporate culture

To be productive, you need to work in an environment that fits your personality and values — to a certain extent. Some people are more comfortable working in a formal office, but perhaps they don't mind a casual event here or there. To others, personal connections with coworkers are critical and they can't imagine working somewhere where formal procedures and processes rule the day.

Other corporate culture issues include how decision-making is handled, the employer's priorities, and how the hiring manager explains the job in terms of lifework balance, responsibility and importance. If there are too many conflicts with your perception of an ideal situation, you may find it hard to adapt eventually. Never overlook the little remarks that may backfire later.

For example, a hiring manager who says a normal workday runs for 10 or 11 hours, and people often hang out afterward is hinting to the fact that you may have to compromise your personal life to fit in. Does that work for you? Are you ready to fit in or opt out? The answer determines whether you should pursue the job further or not.

Job description

A big goal in any interview is to learn more about the opportunity. If the information you receive contradicts with expectations or don't agree with what you want to do next in your career, withdraw the application. Unless desperate for a job, any job, there is no need to continue a process to get a job that you don't want or wouldn't have applied for in the first place if you were aware of the details.

Sometimes it doesn't have to be the entire job description that doesn't agree with you. It can be some work requirements. For example, that can be the case if looking for an inside-sales job, and the job turns to be for outside tasks. A job post may mention that some travel is required, but if that is 50 per cent of the time and that doesn't work for you, just consider it a deal-breaker.

Warning signs

There are many situations that should raise red flags. For example, a hiring manager who hits on you, a HR representative who makes a racial comment, a future supervisor who doesn't show respect, a revelation of a high employee turnover, etc. Although such warning signs must be taken seriously, don't be too sensitive.

For example, if the interview begins slightly later than scheduled, that should not be the end the journey.

There is no way to list every situation that may make you uncomfortable during the interview, but you must fully investigate anything that seems out of place. If you are leaving your current job for this new opportunity, make sure not to end up unemployed in a few weeks or months.

Is it a deal-breaker?

* Know when to quit a job interviewing process.

* Take warning signs seriously.

* Don't pursue a job that appears wrong for you.

* Ask yourself if you still want this particular job.

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Source: Rania Oteify, Special to

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor