Most potential job applicants show up for their interview to do more than hear about what you want from them; they're interviewing you, too. And the smart ones are observing far more than you may care to reveal.

Here are 29 of the biggest tell-tale-signs of neglect that could make your favored job candidate head for the exit.

  1. ... there's litter in the hallways or the break room. Because smart candidates know that only jerks don't clean up after themselves.
  2. ... everyone seems miserable. Because smart candidates know they will inevitably become just as miserable.
  3. ... a lot of people have recently quit. Because they know that people leave for a reason, and so there must something must be very wrong that you're not telling them.
  4. ... there's recently been a layoff. Because layoffs are almost never "one and done," and they know that when the next one comes, they'll be the first to go.
  5. ... they hear you badmouth a former or current employee. Smart candidates avoid working in snake pits.
  6. ... there's no toilet paper in the restroom. Because that's a sure sign of a general "not my job" attitude that will inevitably will turn up elsewhere.
  7. ... the boss has a private parking space. Because smart candidates instinctively sense that bosses who demand special privileges don't really respect the people who work for them.
  8. ... the position has been open for a long time. Because they're smart enough to know that there's always a reason nobody has applied for or accepted a job.
  9. ... multiple people have cycled through the position. Because smart candidates know churn means the job is undoable or the work environment unbearable.
  10. ... members of the boss's family work there. Because smart candidates know that anybody unrelated who works for a family business will always be an outsider.
  11. ... the air seems stale or has an odd smell. Because if the smell squicks them out now, they know it will eventually drive them batsh*t crazy if they work there.
  12. ... you're pressuring them to say yes. Because they can sense that you're desperate, which means there's a hidden problem you aren't telling them.
  13. ... the restrooms are less than spotless. Because any smart candidate with a sense of corporate culture realizes that a company that can't execute the basics will be slipshod everywhere else.
  14. ... you propose a trial period at low pay. Because a smart candidate knows that once they work for $$, you are going to resist paying them $$$. (And, let's be honest, they're dead right about that, eh?)
  15. ... the hiring process is Byzantine. Because smart candidates can figure out that complex hiring practices are usually instituted because money is tight.
  16. ... the interviewer (especially if it's you) is late or doesn't show. Because smart candidates know that if the first people they meet don't respect their time, nobody ever will.
  17. ... the company's goals are amorphous or vague. Because smart candidates are well aware that companies that don't know where they're going always end up nowhere.
  18. ... the interviewer (especially if it's you) speaks fluent biz-blab. Because smart candidates figured out long ago that leveraging innovation for synergy won't holistically generate key human capital.
  19. ... everybody in your workplace is a new hire. Because they know they'll get stuck thrashing around, trying to figure out what to do next.
  20. ... they encounter even a slight hint of flirtation. Because a culture that tolerates flirtation in an interview will probably tolerate harassment in the boardroom.
  21. ... everyone else works in an open plan but you have a private office. Because smart candidates know that you're a hypocrite who doesn't walk the talk.
  22. ... you expect them to sign a non-disparagement agreement. Because smart candidates know you'd only ask if there's something that badly needs disparaging.
  23. ... nobody seems to take a lunch break. Because that's a sure sign that 1) everyone is being overworked and 2) nobody likes their co-workers enough to eat with them.
  24. ... you ask them to sign a noncompete agreement. See "non-disparagement agreement" above.
  25. ... your answers to their questions are vague. Because if you seem like you're avoiding the truth, they know whatever you're hiding can't be good (or that you're uniformed and confused, which is even worse).
  26. ... you attempt to pry into their private life. Because once you open that door, it can never be shut, which means they will no longer have a private life.
  27. ... you have "hot desking" with no work-from-home option. Because any sane person realizes hot desking is only tolerable--and barely if that--when the majority of one's work can be performed at home in privacy, peace, and quiet.
  28. ... there's no potential for advancement. Because they know that a dead-end job is, well, a dead end.
  29. ... you only ask "standard" interview questions. Because smart candidates will know that you didn't bother to prepare and are also entirely bereft of originality.
Published on: Jan 17, 2020
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