Moving into a new job always involves some degree of uncertainty. You should do your best to find out all you can about a prospective employer, starting right from the pre-interview stage.
Here are some things to look out for. If one or more of these warning signs are present, you need to be doubly careful about joining that organization.
1. The company is in the midst of mergers and acquisitions, or there is a major reorganization taking place, staff cutbacks are on the anvil or some other major flux is occurring.
2. The company you are considering is not undergoing problems like those described above, but many other companies in that industry are. That could be an indication that trouble may spread to your prospective employer sooner or later.
3. The person who will be your boss has a bad reputation. This is something you should find out about from your network.
4. Your prospective boss has joined the organization very recently and his or her reputation is generally not known.
5. You asked to meet with and speak to your new colleagues and this request was refused. What are they afraid the existing employees will say to a prospective new hire?
6. This is a non-profit organization that has had funding problems several times before. In such cases, think twice before taking up a position.
7. They told you a story about the company or about your career prospects that sounded too good to be true. When something sounds that way, it usually is.
8. The company is a small business that is not very profitable and does not seem to have access to strong funding sources. It's very easy for small businesses to go bankrupt if they're mismanaged to any degree.
9. The position you are being offered has high turnover. This is usually a bad sign.
10. The interviewers keep saying that they want you to hit the ground running from day one. This may imply that they don't have the means to provide enough support for your role. This could be a problem particularly if you're used to working for large organizations that do provide lots of support.
11. The whole interviewing process was done in a big hurry or in a disorganized manner, leaving you in doubt whether they really had a chance to know you.
The presence of a warning sign from the list above does not necessarily mean you have to write off that organization as an employer. It does mean that you must get all additional information you need. Perhaps you could get an opinion from a trusted friend who is familiar with the industry and company. You need to do some serious thinking before you make a decision either way.
Ann Wilson is a successful business author who writes extensively on jobs and careers. Her articles include best interview tips, how to write effective thank you notes and many others with cutting-edge advice on interviewing.