Other harbingers people mentioned: messy offices, bosses who tell you that you need to like sports to work there (and you don’t like sports), creaky old computer equipment or outmoded software systems, interviewers running unforgivably late, pressure on a candidate for a fast response to a job offer, refusal to put things in writing, and long commutes that you try to persuade yourself you can handle.
Brenda Flynn of Stoneham supplied me with the best warning sign of all. She was applying for a programming job at a health care software company in Boston. By the end of her phone interview, she says, “I was brainstorming with my interviewer about how he could get out of the awful work situation he was in — and affirming to him that it wasn’t OK how he was being treated, and he could do better.”
Naturally, after dispensing that impromptu therapy, Flynn opted not to show up for an interview at the company.
Scott Kirsner can be reached at email@example.com.