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6 Reasons to Run From a Job Interview

6 Reasons to Run From a Job Interview

Liz Ryan | Business Week

Job seekers have issues to keep them up at night. They worry that the beautifully crafted cover letters they’re sending off won’t be read and that plum jobs will go to less deserving candidates. They worry that their résumés don’t showcase their shining accomplishments well enough to command the six-figure offers they’re hoping for. If they’re job hunting while working, they worry that a stray comment by a hiring manager or human resources screener to the wrong person will make its way back to their own boss.

These are all reasonable worries. Personally, I worry about something else—on behalf of job-seekers everywhere. I worry that they’ll tumble into The Vortex and accept a job they should have scorned.

What’s The Vortex? It’s the set of forces that overtakes a job seeker when he or she is deep into the selection process, somewhere between the first and third interviews, when the employer begins to send signals that he’s interested. The Vortex is deadly, because in the face of all that approval and positive feedback (way more, in many cases, than we get on our jobs most of the time), it’s easy to lose one’s head. It’s easy to overlook slights and red flags that should warn us away from dangerous waters. It’s easy to get sucked into The Vortex and let our brains override what our instincts are telling us: that no matter how much wining and dining and affirmation is involved, some companies don’t deserve our talents.

If we end up taking a job because of Vortex effects, we’ll regret it, and we know it. That’s why we’ve created this list of Six Reasons to Run from a job opportunity, no matter how pleasant and charming the company representatives are, and no matter how much latte, red wine, and discussion of end-of-year bonuses is involved.

(You’ll see that our list makes liberal use of the notion of Strong Mutual Interest. Each of us must determine on our own when SMI has been established, but it usually happens between the first and second interviews.)

Here’s our list of Six Reasons to Run:

1) Your employment references are requested before a strong mutual interest is established.

Any employer who values a job candidate also values his or her time and relationships. When a headhunter or company recruiter tells you “We’ll need to call your references” too early in the game, they’re sending a signal that the valuable time of your reference-givers is not nearly as valuable as the time that the company would waste in interviewing you before checking up on you. Your cue to bail.

2) The employer asks for your Social Security number or your approval for a credit or background check before strong mutual interest is established.

When a company says, “We need to check on you before we can spare the time to talk with you,” it’s time to get out of Dodge. A talent-focused employer will call you for a phone interview (at a minimum) before bothering you for personal information that they won’t require if they don’t make you a job offer. This type of batch processing shouts, “Get in line to genuflect.” Keep looking.