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As strange as I know it sounds, I think of looking for a job a little bit like dating. Unless you are a reality TV show contestant, you’ve probably never gone on a first date hoping the other person would marry you. You’re there to get to know them, and to decide whether or not to have a second date.

The same holds true with interviewing for a job. Just because a company looks attractive on the outside doesn’t automatically mean it’s a place you want to spend your time. You could end up with eight hours a day of stress, followed by unpleasant evenings trying to recover.

So, what are the red flags you should be on the lookout for? One of the biggest signs you should run the other way is an incomplete interview process. Perhaps the employer wasn’t terribly interested to interview you. Rather than ask you questions about your experience, they were trying to convince you they were a great place to work. This could be a sign that they’re having a hard time finding candidates. Alternatively, perhaps the hiring manager was not the one to interview you or to make the final hiring decision. Their boss loved you and made the decision for them. This may set you up for an uncomfortable relationship with your direct boss in the future.

Another red flag can be how many times the role you’re interviewing for has turned over in recent years. If more than two people have held a role in a four year period, you should wonder what’s going on.

A number of other red flags can show up at the very end of the interview process – after you’ve received an offer and are negotiating. Take note of the following: The employer refuses to provide the offer to you in writing. The employer forces you to make a decision in less than twenty-four hours. The employer requires you to start working in less than two weeks. You are interviewing for a senior role and the employer is not open to any negotiation around increased salary or vacation.

The most important red flag of all is when you get a bad feeling about a company. You aren’t sure why, but something isn’t adding up. Maybe the employees seem unhappy, the boss seems squirrely, or something else just seems off. Even if you can’t pinpoint the exact cause of your discomfort, don’t ignore it. There’s a reason you are unsure.

While you’re sorting through red flags, it can be helpful to learn what others are saying about the company. If you don’t have a personal contact you can turn to, check out sites like Employees rate companies on the website much like diners rate restaurants on popular review websites.

Whatever you do, don’t be fooled. These red flags won’t go away just because you love the company. They often become worse. Know when to walk away from a company just like you would from a bad date.

Angela Copeland is CEO and founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.

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