Practical Tactical Thursday – 5 Warning Signs to Beware of an Open Position

Many people forget that a huge part of the interview process is for the candidate (YOU), to audition the company a well. Interviewing is a two-way street. I know that when you feel desperate for a job, this process is easy to overlook, but the long-lasting side effects of jumping into the wrong company, takes a long time to correct. And if we’re truly honest, the only way to truly know the company, is to be on the inside. Based on my experiences at several companies, here are warning signs for you to look for when in the hunt (and be sure to pass on their offer).

5 Signs to Beware of an Open Position

They are doing a lot of hiring. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but companies (especially smaller companies), who are expanding rapidly or have several positions with the same title open, should be your first warning sign. While in a boosting economy, this is a positive sign of their stability, in our current times, it is most likely due to a revolving door. When you are going through the process, be sure to ask why the position(s) is open and dig for specifics. If they respond with any of the following, beware:

1. “Our company is doing so well we can’t keep up with the demand.”

Companies typically spend a lot of time analyzing what’s around the corner and how their workforce needs to flex to keep up with the demand. If they are saying this as the reason, it means that a) they are covering up another reason for the opening or b) the company does not know how to plan. Both are flashing red lights that this is not a company you want to work for.

2. “We have had a lot of turnover recently.”

Um, hello – having high turnover is not a good sign, it says that people are choosing to leave the company for better opportunities. I would suggest digging deeper and asking about the kind of turnover they’ve been having and why, but know that there really isn’t a way to sugar coat this reasoning. People leaving in droves means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the company, no matter how the hiring manager wants to spin it.

3. “The previous person was promoted/moved to a new position at the company.”

My first instinct is that this is fantastic news, as that means that company supports internal movement. BUT, you never know why the person was moved. 😉 How’s that for HR paranoia? If the person was promoted into a new position, be sure to ask if the person will now be your manager.

If so, I’d say skip the job altogether. Remember, your new manager was doing the role last week which means he/she thinks she can do it better than you, regardless… and he/she will be the person in charge of grading your performance. It’s really a no-win situation.

If the person was moved to a different position, this could mean that he/she was either very unhappy in that role or they were not performing in it. It’s critical that you find out as much as possible – and the best way to seek out this kind of information is when you are meeting with other people at the company (not the hiring manager).

4. “I’m not really sure.”

The hiring manager or recruiter should absolutely be able to answer this question. If they aren’t sure why the position is open, it could mean that you have an incompetent hiring manager/recruiter (both lead to an experience you want to skip), they are truly unaware of the reason (think: the previous person just did not show up the next day); or perhaps they are filling in for the person who does know (hiring this position is not important enough to someone that their efforts are being focused elsewhere).

5. “This is a new position.”

I cannot tell you how many times I have accepted new/growth positions. And most of the time they work out fantastically. I have included it on this list because you absolutely must beware before jumping in. Here’s the thing – creating a new or expansion position, can provide you with a huge opportunity to mold the position into what you want it to be and really make an impact to the company.However, you will be dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis; you will have to constantly prove your knowledge and expertise to doubters; your direction will change several times a week; and you will have some fumbles.

If you thrive in this type of role, then consider yourself warned and jump in. But if any of that seems like more trouble than it’s worth, stay clear. Frustrations abound when you are creating a new position – and you will only be able to implement a small percentage of the things that actually need to happen.

And above all else, use your gut instinct… as long as you remember to remove your rose colored glasses. Just because you are seeking a job does not mean that you need to be desperate about it and accept any position that crosses your path. I have found (several times the hard way), that if a  position seems too good to be true during the interview process, it usually is.