You applied to what you thought was an amazing company. But when you went for the interview, you definitely got some different vibes.
If this has ever happened to you, there’s a good chance that company was trying to fool you into thinking they were better than they really were. Here’s how you can tell — and how to find a company that’s as great as your first impression thought it was.
1. Their communication is extremely impersonal. You’re probably used to the automated emails you get when applying for jobs. And they’re a good way to confirm your application went through.
But if the only communication you’re getting is template emails — say, to take extra tests or schedule an interview on their automated scheduling system — it’s probably not a great sign. You also want a company that’ll at least give some kind of timeline instead of leaving you hanging.
You want to look for a company that takes that extra step. In a timely manner — within two weeks, for example — they should respond with a personal email to call you in for an interview. A company that leaves it all to an automated system, without giving you a chance to choose a different time, probably isn’t one that cares too much about working well with their employees.
2. No one seems enthusiastic to be there. When you go in for an interview, you’ll likely encounter a few more people aside from the ones you’re interviewing with. Take a look at their personalities in addition to those of your interviewers. Did the receptionist greet you warmly and offer help? Take in any employees walking around, too. It’s easy for someone to have a bad day, but if everybody in the workforce is using the bad day excuse at the same time, that’s a major red flag.
You don’t want to work for a company where everyone is miserable — that’s never a good sign. See how everyone is communicating, both with you and with each other. It’s easy to see if it’s a natural and happy conversation or if it’s forced and tense. You want to be in a place where the employees seem like they’re content at the company.
3. Quality doesn’t seem to matter to them. The building itself can be the first indicator of this. If it’s rundown and hasn’t been updated in decades, it isn’t a good sign. They may claim to care about quality, but in-person it’s easier to see. Ask for a tour of the building and your likely workspace, since they may only show you the more impressive rooms for the interview. Take note of any certificates, awards or certifications. If they have them, they’re going to be displayed proudly.
You want a company that cares about quality and has certifications to emphasize it. Their documents will be in order and their information will be organized efficiently. The company should care about being on top of things — that’s how they’re going to stay in business and it’s also how they’re going to retain high-quality employees.
4. They hype their culture a little too much. Corporate culture is one of the most important things for employees currently. People don’t want to be miserable at their job when they spend so much time there. So it’s going to be a selling point that companies want to emphasize. Make sure you look at the whole picture, though. Don’t be distracted by company happy hours and game rooms, although those are certainly nice perks. Look into all of the other elements of culture, as well.
A great company is going to have the flashy benefits, sure, but they should be able to back them up with more practical, pro-social ones. Games, happy hours and other social events are always a good thing, but community days and charity matching are even better. So are great pay, retirement and health insurance options.
Culture also has to come from the people working there, too — during your visit, take a look at what everybody brings to the table.
5. The Internet is full of terrible reviews of their company. The Internet is an easy place to post a bad review for something trivial. But it’s pretty easy to see which ones are legit and which ones aren’t. Check Glassdoor and similar sites for workers’ reviews of their experiences with the company. If you see ranting about nothing ever going their way, it’s probably the employee. But if there are a lot of reviews with similar, perfectly-reasonable concerns, it’s probably a considerable issue at the company.
Look for an organization that has positive reviews — or at least reviews that seem to have improved uniformly over time. If they’ve gotten better, it shows they’re willing to address their employees’ concerns and make the company a better place to work. There’s probably no employer who has a perfect score, but you want to find a place whose solid feedback shows they take their employees’ thoughts seriously.
6. They have a subpar Internet presence. Internet presence is important. It’s most likely how you found the company in the first place — and how most people are going to find it in the future. If a company has virtually no social media presence and a terrible website, it’s a good sign they aren’t keeping up with the times.
On social media, you want to see quality posts and interactions with customers. On the website, you want to see things are current, laid out well and accessible. If a company has that, it’s time to dig deeper. Make sure everything on their site is presented in well-written and easy-to-understand language that’s free of glaring grammatical errors. If the site passes these tests, it shows they care about their presence and want to project a good image.