Red Flags to Watch Out for When Choosing an Employer - The Career Foundation

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Tips for Job Seekers
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Red Flags to Watch Out for When Choosing an Employer

When job searching, we all create narratives based on what we think is important. When we look at potential companies to work with, we see what we want to see. But just because you’re not looking at something doesn’t mean it’s not there. 

Believe me, I’ve been in your shoes before. 

Job seekers desperate to earn money to pay back their bills and stop dipping into their savings tend to overlook red flags. Crossing their fingers in hopes that their relationship will eventually work out, they are willing and eager to accept an offer from a potentially dangerous employer.

It’s important to remember that employers own their hiring process. They design their hiring process to ensure they hire the best candidate. Occasionally (and unfortunately), some employers simply want the candidate that best serves their self-interests. Your self-interest is not the employer’s concern — nor should it be —and therefore it is on you to look after during your job search and afterward.

As a job seeker, you need to be diligent in determining whether a potential employer is right for you and your career. Before accepting a job offer, vet the employer to make certain the opportunities and work environment will serve most of your self-interests and goals. You don’t want to find out, after joining, that the company, your job, or your boss isn’t a good fit for you. I’ve been there — not fun!

Don’t ignore red flags because you want to see an end to your job search. When assessing an employer, look for these red flags: 

1. They're too eager to hire you

I’ll admit, more than once I was taken in by a hiring manager stroking my ego. (“You’re just the person we need.” … “You have much more experience than the candidates who’ve applied for this position” … “I can see you doing great things around here and moving up fast!”) Gushing flattery feels good; however, it usually comes with an agenda that’s not typically in your favour. 

There’s a big difference between an employer pursuing you versus being too eager to hire you. Be wary of employers who move quickly through the hiring process. Depending on the position, expect at least three interviews (a video teleconferencing “get-to-know-you” interview and two face-to-face interviews, one with the manager you’ll be reporting to). 

2. The employer is always hiring

An employer having many job postings can mean they’re in a growth phase; it can also mean they’re having problems with retention. This may especially be true if the employer is reposting the same roles repeatedly.  

I always ask my interviewer how long they have been with the company. Then I ask what’s the tenure of certain key people (for example, Regional Managers, Directors, VPs, the President)and who’s the most tenured in the department I’ll be joining. 

3. You're not comfortable with the work environment

From the moment you start the video call with the interviewer, when you visit the company, or meet employees you’ll be working with, if something doesn’t sit right with you, don’t ignore your feeling. I believe in feeling negative energy just like I can feel positive energy. If the employees don’t seem actively engaged, that’s a telling sign. 

TIP: Since my career revolves around people management, I always ask to meet, ideally over coffee or lunch, with those who’ll be reporting to me. A few times, I’ve been discouraged from doing so and ended the interview then. 

Being discouraged from visiting what’ll be your actual workplace, meeting your potential team members and reports, if applicable, is a huge red flag! 

4. Unfavourable reviews

Your employer’s reputation has a significant influence on your career. Go on Indeed, Glassdoor, MouthShut, or Google the company name and then “reviews.” See what employees, current and previous, are saying about the company you’re interviewing with. As well, check out the comments on the company’s social media channels. 

I’ve gone as far as to look up on LinkedIn past employees and reach out to them. In several cases, I was glad I did. Don’t dismiss negative reviews as disgruntled employees venting or trying to get back at their employer. 

As you conduct your job search, pay attention to your instincts, or your gut feelings. A gut check can save you from ending up in a terrible company or job!

About the Author

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at or connect with him on LinkedIn.