How to identify an undesirable company during the interview process.

Most employers talk about how great their company is. Often as a candidate you really don’t know what a company will be like until you step in the office door that first day and wake up to a nightmare… or your dream job.
Here are some ways to avoid companies based on how they handle the recruitment and interview process. Some of these bad omens don’t always correctly identify a problem with your boss or organization, as it could just be a certain department or just the recruiting / HR department but often you will find that any company culture that tolerates these types of attributes probably has systemic issues. Generally speaking you should avoid them, that is of course, my professional opinion anyway.

1. No show on phone interviews or face to face interviews.
Think about this for a minute. If the person you are supposed to be interviewing with for a new job doesn’t make the interview, they are ignoring the best asset of their company, the people who will work there. You can bet your bottom dollar that if you end up working for this company you won’t be able to get meetings when you need them, answers when you need them and will often be blown off or dismissed. Generally, expect chaos.

2. Not calling or emailing when they said they would.
We all have things going on, life happens and not everything moves on an exact schedule, but when someone in the interview process says they will update you, they should. Even if they don’t have all the answers yet. No one is perfect, but generally if the employer doesn’t do what they say, then you are going to get more of the same when working with them. I personally made this mistake once and the manager who said he would call me waited 3 days later to follow up after a scheduled appointment. The whole time I worked for him he was extremely disorganized, never made one meeting on time and regular cancelled meetings after he was 20 minutes or more late. You can bet this company / manager will not respect your time.

3. Taking weeks and months to get feedback or never getting any at all.
This is a sure sign you are going to be working for an extremely bureaucratic organization and/or an organization that is highly political. It may be they can’t give you feedback because no one person is willing to take the fall for moving forward with you. They must gain consensus. This can create a CYA environment and one where things don’t get done in a hurry. It also means that your potential hiring manager probably doesn’t have the authority to make final decisions, meaning his boss may be a micro manager. Sometimes in people interview for positions because that is what they have been asked to do, but truth be told they may not want to hire someone for this role. I’ve encountered this many times over the years and usually no feedback will accompany this situation. It may also be a company that thinks others can wait for them, this usually involves an inability for managers and directors to take a hard look in the mirror for self evaluation. Not good.

4. Offering a low ball salary AFTER numbers have already been discussed.
More than likely this company doesn’t have budget in their IT department to hire what they really need. This shows that the company probably doesn’t see IT as a true strategic partner and probably sees it more as a cost center. Getting approval for needed software and hardware will probably be an issue, hiring anyone else in the department will be like pulling teeth and you will be expected to work more hours than you thought and do more duties than were first communicated. They call this compressing positions and it usually isn’t something you can sustain for more than a year without disliking it.

To summarize if you feel like you are being treated like a second class citizen during the interview process then you can guess with a relative degree of certainty there will be problems once you get in the door with said company. Even if there aren’t problems in your work, there are bound to be some when you go to hire more people if simply because you know the process is terrible.
As a candidate you are seeking employers, but that doesn’t mean an employer should be treating you less than best. If they are, then something is wrong.

-Shelton Dickson –> – Founder / Sr. IT Recruiter at Dickson Resources

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