As a job seeker, the goal is to get your foot in the door, ace that interview, land the job and power through negotiations.
Well, not in every case.
Keeping in mind that the interview is your opportunity to quiz your potential employers while retaining your power as they evaluate you, it's not always such a good move to accept a job offer. While it may feel like a victory lap if you're looking to get out of your current role, or if you've been on the bench seeking to get back into the job market, entering a potential no-win situation will only leave you with a new problem on your hands. Or, rather a continual one: Looking for yet another job.
If you're in dire need of a paycheck no matter what, then proceed at your own risk. But if you can afford to be selective and strategic, then think twice before accepting the offer (especially if you find out during your research that the company is in bad shape and recently completed a round of layoffs).
Here are several reasons why you shouldn't say yes so quickly.
1. Conflicting job descriptions. If you've ever gone on an interview and noticed your direct manager says one thing about the actual job responsibilities and his or her boss says another, then run; do not walk to the nearest exit. If they can't agree upon the actual job itself, that shows poor communication, potential internal strife and an unclear set of responsibilities. How can you succeed if there's a lack of clarity surrounding what you're supposed to excel at doing?
Although many jobs end up having additional responsibilities that aren't included in the original job description, it's a huge red flag if it's starting out that way before you've even begun.
2. Identifying a potential bad boss. If your potential boss seems distracted, disinterested or just like a plain old bully, that's certainly enough of a reason to pass up this opportunity. According to Gallup poll, "State of the American Workplace," only 30 percent of Americans enjoy their jobs and their bosses. Since having a bad boss is enough of a reason to resign from your job, shouldn't it be enough reason to move on before accepting a position?
3. An odd culture and unpleasant interview experience. Keep your eyes and ears wide open during the interview. Does something seem off? If you have to question it, then yes, it probably is.
If an interviewer is constantly looking at his or her email as you're talking, that's plain rude. It could be an isolated incident, but if every single person you meet during the interview is doing it, then it's a pattern. Is an employee interrupting your interview by barging into the conference room with a report that must be approved by your interviewer that very second?
Are your interviewers significantly late? If they keep you waiting 20, 30 and even 45 minutes or more, then they're testing you to see if you'll step out of that empty room and speak up. They're also disrespectful of your time. Just some food for thought.
4. Lack of work-life balance. If you can schedule an interview toward the end of the day, go for it. If it runs long and you're still there past 6 or 7 p.m., don't look at it as a sign of rudeness during the job interview process. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to do some investigating. Is the office still crowded? Does it seem like the norm for everyone to still toil away at their desks?
5. Abrupt office interactions. Do people seem to interact with each other or are they entirely zoned in at their desk? Do they seem respectful of one another as they interact? Is the coffee station merry and bright? Does the office itself look like people genuinely seem to enjoy it? Is it a bright place to work or is it drab?
Take all these pieces into account as you assess whether you could picture yourself working at the company. Granted, this may not be reason enough to respectfully decline an offer, but it could weigh into your decision-making process overall.
6. Are you convincing yourself it's not so bad? If you're currently in a horrible work situation you want to prevent your next job from being the rebound one. Quickly accepting a new job offer just to get out of your current situation could bring a whole other set of challenges.
If you have to convince yourself the commute won't be so bad, the pay isn't the best, that you'll transfer internally once you're on board or that you'll eventually build rapport with a standoffish boss, there's your answer.
7. Your gut. It's always right. Something may feel odd with the company, your boss, the job description, the role. Even if it all looks fantastic on paper, go with your heart over your head. If your gut tells you to decline the offer, think of it this way -- when has it ever steered you wrong before?
Vicki Salemi is the author of Big Career in the Big City and creator, producer and host of Score That Job. This New York City-based career expert and public speaker possesses more than 15 years of corporate experience in recruiting and human resources. She coaches college grads individually with an intense Job Search Boot Camp, writes and edits the MediaJobsDaily blog on Mediabistro, and conducts interviews as a freelance journalist with celebrities and notable names. BlogHer named her one of the country's top 25 career and business women bloggers worth reading.
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