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Updated 15 January 2014

10 bad job signs

Here's how to tell during the interview whether taking on this job will be like stepping into a minefield.

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Work is scarce, and these days even getting to the interview stage for a new position is almost an achievement in itself. There are, however, jobs that would be best to stay away from very far, unless you are completely desperate.

But how can you tell during the interview whether taking on this job will be like stepping into a minefield?

10 signs of disaster

Oh! It's you…. The interviewer has clearly forgotten that he/she is supposed to interview you and you get the feeling that the interviewing process is rather slapdash. Also the interviewer has clearly had this task assigned to them at the very last minute.

Unknown CV territory. It becomes clear during the interview that the interviewer has not really looked at your CV, since questions are asked, which could easily have been answered by reading this document.

Where there's smoke. The interviewer smokes without asking you if you mind. Not only is this considered bad manners, it is also against the law and shows a lack of respect for prospective employees. This won't happen in large companies, where smoking is forbidden in workplaces, but if you are being interviewed by a small business, it can and does happen.

Warning. If any employee or interviewer warns you against certain other employees, take note. This place of work is probably a snakepit and backstabbing and office politics are probably the order of the day. Also, take great care never to confide in this particular person who issued the warning. He or she probably cannot be trusted.

Mystery vacancy. Your question about why this post is vacant is not answered honestly. You get the feeling there is something they are trying to hide, such as the high turnover rate in that position, or that the previous person in that post was fired.

Full training provided. Although certainly not always the case, this phrase usually means that they don't want to pay experienced people. Very often the training is also very short and insufficient and merely an excuse to underpay staff.

Dangling details. Questions about specifics, such as medical aid and pension or salary structure are dismissed with vague statements. Be very careful, they could be trying to hide something. It is very difficult later to prove that you were promised medical cover during the interview. Ask for details in writing if you are offered the job.

Job description mystery. You leave the interview and you still have no real idea what the job will require you to do every day. Direct questions were skillfully evaded and you are still mystified. If the interviewer is upfront and says that you will have to do a wide range of things, at least you know what you're letting yourself in for.

Hail fellow, well met. A job interview is a formal thing. An overfriendly interviewer who slaps you on the back is off-putting and leaves you not knowing which social codes to follow. This person is not your friend and may later be your boss. Be careful if people are too friendly.

One big, happy family. Be careful of interviewers who describe their company as 'one big happy family'. Anyone who is part of a family will know that these are often at loggerheads with each other. An interviewer who has to tell how happy everyone is who works there, is probably not being completely honest.

 
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