Considering a Job Change? Watch Out For Red Flags in the Interview


Potential Employer With Great Promises and a Lowball Offer


I am faced with a dilemma and I need some advice. Although I am currently employed, I had a meeting with a prospective employer and things went (mostly) great. Although they knew my salary restrictions going in, they balked at guaranteeing anything near that amount and they made me a lowball offer. Of course, they talked about numerous opportunities for merit increases and discretionary bonuses at the end of the year that could get me close to what I need. What do you think? Jerry in Indiana


What do I think? I think this is what we call a red flag.


Regardless of the side of the desk you’re sitting on during an interview, red flags are called red flags in an interview for a reason. More than one red flag, and you need to go in a different direction.


As an interviewer, I like to allow the candidate to screw up just once in the process. Two red flags and they are simply not a good fit for my company. While this may seem harsh to some, it’s important to remember that candidates are on their best behavior during an interview – it’s not going to get any better after you’ve hired them.


But, I’m The Interviewee


Sorry Jerry, back to your question. Just as prospective employees are on their best behavior during an interview, so too are those conducting the interviews. They are trying to sell you on their company, and they’re not about to blow it buying displaying their warts.


If they are unwilling to guarantee a suitable salary in writing, then you may want to look elsewhere. As my father always said, verbal promises are not worth the paper they’re printed on.


I would be concerned if a prospective employer wanted me accept an initial compensation package below what I felt the position and I deserve. I can tell you from experience that it never, ever gets any better once you’re employed with them.


You Can’t Feed Your Family On Promises


The bottom line is that you can’t deposit promises in your bank. If the employer is unwilling to fully compensate the position today, what makes you think they’ll ever deliver fair compensation for what you deliver?


Unless you’re just absolutely desperate, I would thank the prospective employer for the consideration, but that you simply cannot justify making the job change without X dollars year in guaranteed compensation. Who knows, they may come around. If they don’t, you’ve lost nothing.