ask the readers: have your gut feelings when job searching paid off?

Last week, commenter Artemesia shared this story about a time when listening to a bad gut feeling really paid off for her:

“I almost moved my family cross country for a job where it turned out the CEO of the foundation had his hand in the till, the program head had alienated all the local organizations critical to success of the big project they wanted to hire me to run, and the person who eventually took the job cut and ran after 6 months of disaster. (I knew him, he was super competent — luckily he had had a recent divorce and was highly mobile and so this was not a disaster for him personally.) I would have used my one ‘uproot my husband from his career’ card and uprooted my whole family into this disaster. It sounded great when they made the offer. I was apparently just right for the job. But I just had this tingley spidey sense and turned it down. I have always paid attention to that spidey sense since then.”

I thought it would be interesting to explore gut feelings further. Have you had a bad gut feeling about a job before? Did it turn out to be right? And perhaps even more interesting, have you ever had the opposite experience, where your gut was warning you against something but it turned out to be wrong? Share in the comments.

Related: should you listen to your gut when job-searching?

{ 433 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. JR

    A good gut feeling paid off, but it was probably a bad strategy.

    I graduated college in 2003 into an iffy-but-not-terrible economy. After a bunch of part-time jobs and one permanent job for a company that imploded, it was now 2005 and I was trying to figure out how to get my career going. I looked into local companies that did public-interest tech, and I found one. I decided I wanted to work there. But they weren’t hiring for the right kind of position at the time. So I spent the next 14 months doing other part-time and temporary work until I could get a foot in the door there, not really looking for other permanent work.

    After 14 months, I ended up getting hired there, and have now worked 10 of the past 11 years there (and counting), with reasonable promotions and raises and skill-building throughout.

    Successful but not recommended.

    Reply
  2. Trisha

    Not with job searching, but with hiring.

    I hired someone when we were pretty desperately looking for labourers at a farm. I hired this guy who gave me weird feelings, but I ignored them because I was in a new position. He had to delay his start date by two weeks due to health problems, and when he finally started I had forgotten that I had, had doubts about him. I remembered pretty quickly! He was let go after three days because he was sexually harassing our LGBTQ staff, and I had to have him escorted out of the building because I was concerned he was going to become violent. He came back in twice after to try and get his job back, crying once, and harassing supervisors the second time.

    A couple weeks later we found out he was arrested for trying to break into someones house, and he had previous charges for domestic assault. Never ignore your intuition!

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    1. TCO

      Yes, I’ve learned the hard way to listen to my gut when hiring, too. It can be tough because you usually have to be able to justify your decisions to yourself and others (to make sure you’re not being discriminatory, or overemphasizing something that isn’t important), but I won’t hire someone if my gut tells me not to.

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      1. Trisha

        For sure! Thankfully in Canada we have a three month probationary period where I can fire without any repercussions and I don’t need a reason, which has saved me a few times.

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        1. Kat

          3 month probationary doesn’t necessarily apply to unionized environments. I had a gut feeling about someone I didn’t personally interview but was part of the hiring panel because the best thing one of the interviewers could say was he’s not like (fill in the blank of employee who works hard) but he can do the work. Based on his resume he bounced around between Union and management jobs (non Union). I had zero justification to push back other than my gut that he wasn’t going to be a good fit. The HR rep wouldn’t let us by pass him for someone with less than 1 mark difference cuz he was an internal candidate and in the union. He was the worst. Couldn’t do the job. Couldn’t follow directions. Screwed up stuff. Didn’t even get that doing 1 thing doesn’t mean you meet expectations when I took away 10 tasks from you so you could AT LEAST get one thing done. Performance management didn’t work so I got rid of him. In hindsight I still can’t say why I had the gut feeling but it was 100% right. Found out his reference lied because they wanted to get rid of him. They were upset when we sent him back to their division. Maybe next time they should performance manage him. He was such a useless dud and 4 months after we got rid of him I try not to think about how much stuff he screwed up while he worked for me.

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    2. Mabel

      Oh! This reminds me of someone I hired who didn’t work out. I don’t think had a bad feeling when we were interviewing her, but when she wanted to delay her start by two weeks, that made me nervous. It turned out that she was getting divorced, and her ex-husband had taken their child to a state about 2,000 miles away. She was completely, and understandably, preoccupied with getting her child back, and she really didn’t have the bandwidth for a full time job. The last straw was when she stood up a client because she was at her lawyer’s office for a meeting, and it ran longer than her lunch hour. I would have been more understanding if she hadn’t been very rude to me several times in the previous couple of weeks and if she was at least apologetic about the client who was expecting her. Her attitude was that what she was doing was the most important thing happening and why was everyone so worked up anyway.

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      1. Scarlott

        Oh, Harsh, but if she wasn’t even apologetic about it then she’s not even letting work be anywhere on her priority list.

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        1. Mabel

          That’s exactly what the issue was. When she was let go, she completely understood why. I found out later from one of the other employees that when she was supposed to be shadowing him and learning the job, she would wander off to make phone calls. Again, while I am very sympathetic to her situation, she still had a job to do, and she wasn’t doing it. And she was quite rude to me and others, and a big part of the job is being friendly or at least polite to everyone.

          I asked the other employee to let me know if something like that was happening in the future because I need to be able to deal with it. This is one of those situations in which telling your manager what’s going on is not “tattling.”

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    3. Person of Interest

      Yes – definitely with hiring. I once had to choose between two great executive director candidates. I just had a better overall feeling about the one we picked. The one we rejected sent me a pretty scathing email about how much he had dedicated himself to our process, and that no one could possibly have been a better choice than him. So, turned out my gut was right. The person we picked turned out to be wonderful!

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    4. S L

      I recommend reading the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker….he teaches you how you listen to your gut!

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      1. Lefty

        In many situations, I second the recommendation for “The Gift of Fear”. The chapter on workplace violence was particularly useful to me in recognizing some issues in a previous job.

        I’d just like to say that the book is somewhat problematic in its handling of domestic violence/abuse situations, so maybe just tear that chapter out…

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        1. Dan

          If you understand the author came from an abusive home then I think you can put his comments in that chapter a much different light. It seems very jarring because so much of the book is practical and avoids moralizing but then you get to that chapter and it’s very moralistic. I guess a good summary, in my opinion would be: “the rest of the book is all about doing whatever it takes to be alive, including learning to throw everything else by the wayside to ensure your safety, but then in that chapter he takes the stance that in this one specific case not being abused (and by inference from his own life experiences, protecting an innocent child from abuse when you are the parent and can leave the situation and the child cannot) is more important than being alive, that this one specific situation, unlike the chapters on other violent situations, is worth dying for.”

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    5. Dee

      On the subject of hiring:

      In a former job of mine I was sort of part of the hiring committee every time they were interviewing people for my department. (It was a rapidly growing company, so that happened a bunch of times.)

      My manager would usually do the interviewing and then ask the candidates she considered to come in for half a day to get a feeling about what the job was like. It was a highly stressful environment and people would constantly underestimate the what doing this job really meant, so that was a good tactic. These candidates were then sent to me to spend time at my desk, and I would show them how we worked and at the same time got to know them a little.

      Usually, my gut feeling was really good in this kind of situations and some highly successful hires were the result.

      But there was one, who I completely misjudged. She was a few years older than most of us (it was one of those very young start-up companies), which came with more work experience than most new hires in my department. Also, she seemed confident and stress-resistant. I honestly thought this was somebody, who wouldn’t be easily overwhelmed by the fast-paced and sometimes chaotic nature of our everyday work and could maybe even teach a few people a thing or two about how to manage their projects.

      Boy, was I wrong. She was overwhelmed easily, more so than most of the others, was always the one most stressed out (although her workload didn’t reflect it at all), always complaining about everything and all in all just not a very pleasant person. I think management hoped for a while that she would quit on her own, but when she didn’t for almost a year (!), she was finally let go. It was a relief to the entire team.

      I still sometimes wonder how I could be so wrong about her, but I guess she was just a good actress – when she needed to be during the hiring phase.

      Reply
  3. PB

    Hoo boy. I wish I’d listened to my gut once. It was the early days of the recession, and I was a recent grad in a contract position that was ending in a month. Times were tough, but I was getting a lot of interviews. Finally, one led to an offer. I had about five seconds of excitement, followed by an intense feeling of dread.

    Part of it was that I had an interview scheduled three weeks later for a job I really wanted, but obviously I couldn’t keep the offer waiting that long. So, I had to decide whether I wanted to accept that job, or take the chance on the other job I really wanted, and run the risk of being unemployed in a month.

    The risk was too big, and I took the offer, despite my reservations. This job was a nightmare. When I outline everything bad that happened while I was there, it sounds like I’m lying, but too much of it was very public, even landing on the front page of the NYT at one point.

    In addition to the crises at an organizational level, my department was awful. I had a toxic coworker who, at one point, literally yelled at our supervisor for several minutes, left, and came back to continue yelling. When our supervisor justifiably wanted her dismissed, our supervisor was told she needed to communicate better. Things got worse when I was assigned a project to lead a major change. My coworkers, especially Ms. Toxic, made my life misery: intentionally withholding information, badmouthing me behind my back, refusing to do the new workflow, trying to do the old workflow in secret and encouraging me to lie to the director about it(!).

    And those are only the biggest problems.

    One day, I stepped out of my car in the morning and had the spontaneous thought, “I hate this place.” I’m not usually the kind of person who says or thinks those things, so that scared me. That afternoon, I received an offer from my current job. I am so glad I got out.

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    1. Qmatilda

      I spent a few months in a job where I dreaded the minute I pulled into the building each morning. Just miserable.

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      1. Liz T

        I just spent 6 months in a job where on Saturday I’d start dreading Sunday because it was only one day from Monday.

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        1. Delta Delta

          Ooh, that’s a bad one. I once was physically ill on a Sunday when I checked my phone and saw 8 emails from BigBoss who decided he (and by extension, everyone) should also be working on a Sunday. I didn’t stay long after that.

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        2. Lala

          Yep. I hit a point when I was starting to cry (literally, and I am not a person who normally cries even when you’d expect it) out of miserableness on Sundays, which was bad enough; then it started happening on Saturdays because I only had one day left before I had to go back. When I reached that point, I knew I had to find something else. I have never been so burnt out and miserable in my life.

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    2. Matilda Jefferies (formerly JMegan)

      our supervisor was told she needed to communicate better.

      o.O

      So glad to hear you’re out of there!

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    3. pope suburban

      Jinkies, to quote the Scooby gang. That sounds a lot like where I work now, especially the parts about the secrecy and cloak-and-dagger routine, so I’d believe you even as I can relate to the “Oh god, people think I’m lying” feeling. I’m glad you got out! That kind of thing is so corrosive to one’s well-being, even if you’ve checked out emotionally and are just coming in to pay the bills.

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    4. Yogi Josephina

      Me too. My job that I had before this one (where I’ve been for almost 7 years now), throughout the entire iterview process, I got an absolutely AWFUL feeling from the entire team. When I was offered the job, my whole being filled with dread, and I really, REALLY didn’t feel good about it. I took it anyway, because a) the money was FANTASTIC and b) I really had reached the end of my rope with my previous employer.

      It was an absolute you-know-what show. I was already job searching again 3 months later due to the toxicity of the workplace and the AWFUL managers and coworkers, but what time period was “3 months later?” October of 2008.

      Needless to say, I wasn’t going anywhere.

      I spent 3 years trying DESPERATELY to get out. I got TONS of interviews, which even during the recession was impressive, but I would ALWAYS make it to the finalist stage where it was between me and one other candidate and they ALWAYS went with the other candidate. It was frustrating to the point of tears and depression. In retrospect, I’m so glad none of those worked out, because I realized over time it wasn’t just my office that I hated, I actually hated the whole field I was working in. Even though a better office would’ve been great, I don’t think I ever would’ve been happy regardless doing that work.

      Finally, 3 and a half years in with no new job in sight, I got into a colossal argument with management and more or less quit immediately. I was SO sure they would let me leave without having to give a notice period since we HATED each other by that point, but for some reason they wanted me to stick around for the month-long (UGH) notice period that was their policy. I needed the vacation payout so I had to suck it up and do it.

      I have ALWAYS remembered that awful feeling I had in my gut about those people, and how I blatantly ignored it because ker-ching. I will never, EVER make that mistake again.

      Reply
  4. GreenYogurt

    I met with a headhunter for an interview. I felt the interview went horribly. Described it to a family member as “throwing butter at a brick wall – everything I said just slid right off.” I didn’t feel like she “got” me at all.

    Turns out I couldn’t have been more off-base. She sent me to a law firm for a temp-to-perm job that did in fact, become permanent. It’s ten years later and while I’m no longer there, I look upon it as one of the best firms I ever worked at.

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    1. Taylor Swift

      My gut instinct about how interviews go always seems to be wrong. The offers I’ve received always seem to have come from what I thought were the worst interviews.

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      1. Jadelyn

        Same – anytime I think I nailed it I get nothing back, and my interview for my current position I felt wasn’t awful, but wasn’t good either since I didn’t have any of the specific experience they were asking about. They extended an offer for temp work that same day, and I’ve been here over 3 years now after going from temp to regular 10 months in.

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        1. Rachel 2: Electric Boogaloo

          Same with me. I’ve gone on interviews that I thought I totally nailed, but never heard from the companies again. On the other hand, when I interviewed for my first newspaper advertising job (it was temp-to-hire), I didn’t think the supervisor liked me that much, plus during the interview I brought up a job I’d had that I left off my resume (and went on a mini-rant about it!) – a big no-no. The agency called me with an offer about an hour after I got home from the interview. Go figure! (I temped for 3 months, got hired full-time, and was there for 4 and a half years, until I resigned to go back to school full-time and finish my degree.)

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  5. Jean

    Oh, yes. I once interviewed for a job that seemed shady in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on. It was a group interview for a call center position and they hired about half of us on the spot, which is strange but not necessarily alarming, but for some reason I just had a bad feeling about the place. After stewing for a couple of days I finally Googled the company (this was in the earlier days of the Internet, when that wasn’t the automatic procedure it is now) and discovered that the CEO was a convicted murderer. I did not show up for my first shift.

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      1. Jean

        The last I looked they were still in business, but that was several years ago and now I can’t remember the name of the company.

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      1. Jean

        If I’m remembering correctly, he had beaten his abusive father to death with a baseball bat. I’m sure he had his reasons, but I’m also sure I don’t want to work for that guy.

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    1. Amadeo

      I ran into this three years ago. I was offered a job at a protection dog magazine on the spot. I took a couple of days and then accepted and told some online friends about it, one of whom is a breeder of my chosen breed. She warned me that this guy had been tried (not convicted, but tried – though that was enough for me) for rape.

      I felt like I’d swallowed a rock. Fortunately I hadn’t given notice at my old place yet, but I talked to a cousin of mine who’s a retired detective of a local police force and he told me that were I his daughter, he would not allow me to work for this man.

      I backed out of the offer, but I was totally broken-hearted over it. It was a combination of two things that I love: protection dogs and art/design. I’m in a better position now than I may have been had I taken it, so it worked out and I possibly dodged a horrible bullet, but that’s the only time I’ve been devastated to have to turn down a job.

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      1. Zowayix

        As a rule of thumb though, if someone’s been tried and acquitted (especially the worse the crime is), it helps to look up what their defense was. There’s a humongous difference between “I’m not guilty because I thought the victim consented” and “I’m not guilty because you’ve got the wrong person/a witness picked out someone else of the same ethnicity from a set of photos”. Only bringing this up because innocent people get hit with serious crimes more often than petty ones (because of the stronger desire to rush to judgment being more likely to land on the wrong person), and it sure doesn’t feel nice to be an innocent person who wins an acquittal and then has everyone around them still assume they’re guilty. But a check of their defense clears things right up.

        (Contrary to the average crime drama on TV, a guilty person on trial very rarely says “I didn’t do it”. The prosecution will likely have physical evidence, and they’re much more likely to confess to some parts and then try to argue to the jury that they didn’t meet some specific element of the crime necessary for conviction, such as an intent to cause harm. Or they’ll just plead guilty because they want to reduce their sentence and then there won’t be a trial at all. It’s the innocent people who get falsely accused when witness memory becomes notoriously unreliable under stress, and then the crime’s bad enough that everyone’s more focused on making sure the person doesn’t get away rather than trying to avoid locking up the wrong person. Then their trial contains things like timestamped receipts, photos, phone location tracking, and the like that no guilty person could present, while the prosecution may have only witnesses and no physical evidence, so they (*hopefully*) get acquitted. And then, hopefully, other people don’t go up to them and say “I don’t trust you because you were tried for a heinous crime and ‘got away with it’ and ‘never admitted to anything’.” Again it’s all in the defense – both innocent and guilty people can go to trial and get acquitted, but the range of defenses will be drastically different. If I have only the existence and outcome of the trial, I have no clue which one this falls under.)

        Reply
  6. Longtime listener, first time caller

    So this isn’t totally related, but I am a HUGE advocate for following your gut. It has saved me a few times.

    At my high school job at a gym, I was swimming laps in the pool. There are windows from the second floor (where all of the gym equipment is), and I noticed this guy starting at my while I swam. It gave me the serious creeps. Later that week I was on our state’s sex offender registry (because I’m paranoid), and I saw this guy’s face. Turns out he was a registered sex offender, and actually shouldn’t have even been allowed to have a membership because we have an on-site day care and preschool. I sent the info to my boss, and she and management dealt with it i.e., revoked his membership.

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    1. Bryce

      My gut’s saved me from food allergy issues a few times, but I’ve found it’s also on a hair trigger and leads to me being rather picky. And naturally, when it goes off most of the time I don’t get to find out if something would have been a problem. “You don’t have a reaction to 100% of the food you don’t eat” or something like that.

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      1. Mabel

        I’d say, “better safe than sorry” in that kind of situation (even if you can’t verify you were right not to eat something).

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        1. Bryce

          Yeah. I usually say that too. I fully intentionally err on the side of caution, I just also like to be aware that I AM erring on the side of caution, if that makes any sense. If someone does things differently I don’t assume it’s gonna end badly for them.

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    2. Jesmlet

      Haven’t been saved by my gut but my gut feeling has been confirmed several times. Choir director at children’s choir I was singing in when I was 12 majorly creepy me out. I quit after 1 year and months later they discovered he had a thing for little boys. Second time was shortly after with a priest who I never liked but couldn’t figure out why. Turned out he was gay (only slightly relevant, this is obviously not the bad part) and had stolen $1.5 million (this is the bad part) from the church to finance vacations and an apartment with his boyfriend.

      After those two times, I’ve trusted every gut feeling I’ve had since, good or bad. Happily this is how I ended up at a job I really like and now trust my gut to help make every hiring decision I make.

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    3. seejay

      I had a similar situation where this guy started showing up at our paintball field. He latched onto my group of friends since we were all around his age and hung out there regularly as we were friends with the field owner and we volunteered/worked there. This guy was emotionally/socially stunted and tried to force his way into our social group instead of naturally letting a friendship grow. We felt bad for him so we tried to be nice, and the field owner also tried to be nice and let him come over when we were cleaning gear after the game day was over.

      Well one day, it was me, my fiance, and the field owner running the field and some games for a group of kids. I went into the gear shed which was just a tree-house type shack that someone had built (so not very well secured or anything, but the main door was behind the counter where we, staff, conducted business) and I was in the dark getting gear out. Creepy guy had snuck in from a crack in the back and was just standing there staring at me. I didn’t notice him at first because he was dead silent. When I did, I shrieked because he was literally staring at me like I was prey. I told him he needed to get out because this was a staff only area, where we stored the equipment and he had come in through a not-door.

      I pulled my fiance and field owner aside right away and told them “do not leave that guy alone with me no matter what… I am creeped out by him, there’s something wrong with him”. Well, they both poo-pooed me and told me I was over-reacting and being a hysterical woman and he was harmless and just socially inept and whatever else.

      Yeaaaaaah.

      Since I couldn’t trust them to not leave me alone, I had to basically tail them everywhere to make sure *I* wasn’t left behind.

      A few weeks later? Someone caught creepy guy touching kids. Like in the 5 to 6 year old range. Not a rumour, not someone heard about it and told someone else. Someone caught him and he got charged. Field owner had a 4 year old son and a 6 year old daughter and he *freaked out* when he found out about it because this guy had been in his house. It took everything in me to not say “I TOLD YOU SO” to him.

      Do not underestimate the ability of women to detect a sexual predator. We’re not stupid.

      Reply
      1. J-me

        >>Do not underestimate the ability of women to detect a sexual predator.

        Adding on to this a bit. The book “The Gift of Fear” talks about this. The “gift of fear” is basically the idea that gut feelings are generated for a reason. Not to say that every gut feeling about someone is 100% accurate, but just that gut feelings aren’t magical–they are a response to something in your environment, and should at least be examined before you decide to dismiss them. Anyway, it was an eye-opening book for me.

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        1. seejay

          I’m in the middle of reading it right now. I’ve had a gut instinct for detecting questionable scenarios for a long time (late teens to early 20s at least) due to some hard-earned wisdom learned at a young age probably and it’s shocking me how much I’m reading in the book that is sadly way too familiar to me. Not to say I know everything (gods knows I don’t, I’m learning a lot from reading it) but it’s definitely helping cement that a lot of the mocking and crappy comments I got from people for assessing situations and saying “hey, this feels bad, I’m leaving” were way off base and my feelings weren’t out in left field.

          In short, it’s an excellent book and I’d recommend it to anyone (and everyone).

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        2. Lala

          Seriously. I met one of my husband’s coworkers once who majorly creeped me out, for no reason I could explain. But turns out he was working the “but I’m just being a nice, honest guy” approach as much as he possibly could (nice professors do not confess to their students how attractive they find them while said student is still in their class…and they don’t hide behind their “christian principles of honesty” to do that when they are already MARRIED).

          I was not at all surprised when husband found out that the guy was considered creepy by most of the female (college) students. After one definitely-skirting-the-line incident a couple years later, dude was transferred to an online-only teaching position. And his ass got fired from *that* position after creeping out his new manager.

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          1. Yellow

            I had a fitness instructor I’d always had an off feeling about. Never felt quite safe around him which was ironic since it was a self defense class. He was married and it turned out he was having an affair with one of the other girls in class. Came out that it wasn’t the first time either, his wife had previously been a student he’d had an affair with while he was married to someone else.

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      2. Bess

        That whole “he’s just awkward”! thing drives me nuts. There’s a difference between “awkward” and “actively testing boundaries.”

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        1. Aurion

          I find “awkward” a completely bullshit excuse, and I’m not super socially adept.

          Here’s the thing: if someone is legitimately awkward with no ill intentions, when you call them on their creepy/awkward/whatever behaviour, sure, they’re mortified…but they’ll also fall over themselves to apologize and they didn’t mean to scare you. And bonus, if they have good intentions, they’ll learn not to do it again.

          Doubling down and using awkwardness as a shield and excuse for creepy behaviour, and insisting on keeping to that behaviour? That guarantees I’ll never trust that person. Ever, ever, ever.

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        2. seejay

          Guys think it’s “just awkward”. We women know what it really is. We can tell awkward from creeper.

          When I’m being looked at by a predator, I can tell. And when two people I trust tell me to shoosh up about it because I’m being hysterical and over-reacting? Screw that happy horsepucky.

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          1. Whitinohio

            Frankly you’re making generalizations about men and women in a way that makes me extremely uncomfortable. You’re generalizing from your single experience to everyone everywhere. You’re also assuming that all AAM readers are women. Frankly, if you flipped the genders in your comment everyone would consider it extremely sexist.

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            1. lonestarbrooklyn

              I think she’s not saying all AAM readers are women, just that “we women know” what it really is. I, for one, totally stand by that. Women are too often told they are overreacting, or that there is no evidence for their fear.

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            2. The Other Katie

              She isn’t assuming all AAM readers are women, she’s saying that women, as a class of people, can tell if someone’s socially awkward or if they’re actively creepy. And that’s pretty much true, no matter how much shushing we get about it. Socially awkward is different from creepy. Very different.

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            3. Kate

              Frankly, women are attacked by sexual predators far, far more often than men are. It is not sexist to suggest that women are better at detecting sexual predation.

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        1. Liz T

          Yeah or at the very least gave HIM a major “I told you so,” until he agreed to trust you about your own experiences in the future.

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        2. seejay

          Sadly I did not at the time. This was 15 years ago, I didn’t realize how toxic that behaviour was (and other big fat warnings signs) and stayed until we broke up 6 months before the wedding.

          The good thing is, we did break up and I got the better end of the deal in the long-run. And I learned some really valuable lessons out of it.

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    4. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

      Yeah, my parents had this family friend when I was around 15-16 who was friendly, and funny, and who gave me the absolute creeps. He made my stomach turn, and I never wanted to be alone with him.

      About five years after I moved out of home, he wound up in court convicted of three (historic — back in the 80s) cases of indecent assault of a girl when she was between 8 and 11, and one charge of rape of a 9 year old girl.

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    5. Thlayli

      I had a bad feeling about a guy like that that as far as I know was wrong. I was lecturing in the evenings to mature students and one of the guys in my class really creeped me out – to three point that I felt nervous about leaving at the end of the class in case he attacked me. He had done nothing I could tell to make me feel this way he just creeped me out for some unknown reason.

      I was seeing a counsellor for unrelated issues and after talking with her about it I finally figured out it was because he looked like a guy who had tried to rape me when I was a teenager. It wasn’t anything he had done at all.

      After I figured that out my whole attitude to him changed and from what I saw of him he seemed like a perfectly nice normal guy.

      Reply
        1. Beverly Cleary Doesn't Live Here

          You are not wrong. My husband and I have been together for 15 years now. Over that time I have proven my gut instinct about people to him time and time again (much to his chagrin). It pisses him off how right I usually am about people.

          BUT, we had a friend who we knew and loved for over a decade who suddenly committed suicide. We were stunned as it seemed completely out of the blue. It wasn’t until his wife pulled us aside (two of just a handful of people that she did this to) to tell us the devastating news that in his suicide note he had admitted to being a prolific pedophile and that he knew that he was about to be busted by the cops so he offed himself instead. Never in the entirety of our relationship did I ever have the slightest of inkling of his true nature. Ever. And I also discovered that I knew a couple of his victims as well. We were horrified. 10 years we knew him and spent countless hours with him and never ever did I suspect a thing.

          So yes, I strongly believe in my gut. But I know it’s not perfect.

          Reply
      1. Hankie Enlightenment (formerly Sarahnova)

        Yeah, I have had plenty of “justifiably creeped out” moments, but also a few guys who tripped me just because they resembled the guy who abused me in physical appearance/mannerisms.

        Guts are not infallible, but they should still always be listened to.

        Reply
        1. Emelle

          There was a parent at a school I briefly taught at that creeped teachers out. He was just creepy, made comments that seemed innocent- but later you would realize that it had a whole other meaning, and would intensely stare (sometimes bordering on leering) at you. A friend that knows him and his wife socially said he was the only husband in her circle that she would not let her kids be alone with because she wouldn’t be alone with him. But she has no concrete reason, just this guy gives off a vibe.

          He hasn’t done anything illegal in the 10 years I have known him. But dude has tripped up multiple women’s instinct to stay away. (One of my current co-workers knows him and she swears he is the nicest person, but I cannot get past the “Nope” screaming in my gut every time I see this man.)

          Reply
          1. Kate

            Honestly, the fact that your co-worker thinks he “is the nicest person” sets off huge flashing warning lights for me. Predators are always “lone weirdos”, usually they are very good at blending in with society to get close to their prey, to gain people’s trust. Nice is one thing, really nice and really charming always makes me wary.

            Reply
          2. Salyan

            A while back, we had a fellow visit my church. One day I came into service to see one of our young girls sitting next to him and my inside just SCREAMED that she had to get away from him. Immediately. Couldn’t figure out why I had such a strong response, since he seemed pretty innocuous. A few years later, though, I heard some stories of what he had been up to – nothing illegal/wrong, but some huge red flags (hanging out in the nursery asking about the kids, singling out the preteens to talk to, etc.) that confirmed my unconscious response. Thankfully, my pastor is awesome, and basically chased him off (turns out almost every woman in the church had the same gut reaction to the guy). I don’t know if that guy was truly ‘off’ or not, but he is the only person that I’ve ever found myself randomly wondering whether he was a pedophile.

            Reply
  7. Competent Commenter

    I had the opposite. I worked for a terribly dysfunctional small museum—one of those places with charisma, where the staff were loyal for years despite bad treatment because the place just had something special about it. I left for another job that turned out to be really disappointing, and then the museum hired a new director, who met me for lunch and asked me to come back in a higher capacity. I was so smitten with her—she just seemed amazing, warm, funny, sharp. The moment I first saw her I got this overwhelmingly strong positive feeling from her. I still remember it!

    She turned out to be a complete psycho who fired several people, then fired me for no good cause except I was 8.5 months pregnant (I was able to negotiation a resignation and a small payout), switched to hounding good, competent and dedicated people out of their jobs since her brush with my lawyer scared her…eventually, after 6+ years, she was fired by the board after at least one complete turnover of all 15 staff. It was so bad under her that the staff unionized, which is just unheard of for such a small place.

    I was only 23 when she fired me, and it was so devastating. I worked hard and was very competent but I felt like a failure. Now I’m 50, and I still haven’t completely gotten over the way my instincts led me completely astray. I just don’t trust it when I get positive hits off people.

    Reply
    1. Anon Anon

      Me either. And I actually prefer when I’m not blown away with how amazing someone is who is interviewing me. Because it’s so easy to be taken in by people who are incompetent, but engaging.

      Reply
    2. iseeshiny

      I have had something similar happen! Three people I have worked with have been convicted of serious charges. Only one of them did I ever have an inkling that he was off (rapist). The other two (hot-blooded murderer and child porn possessor) I had no idea either of them would have been capable of something that awful. It definitely lingers in my mind and makes me question my judgment sometimes.

      Reply
      1. Competent Commenter

        Oh my gosh, that’s a lot worse than my ex boss. Yes, she fired people for being pregnant and “old” but she didn’t murder anyone!

        I’m glad/sad to see I’m not the only one who hasn’t completely recovered their confidence being fooled.

        Reply
    3. AnonAcademic

      I fell for a supervisor’s “office mom” schtick when I interviewed – I found her warm and friendly. I was later fired after she lied about my performance to her bosses to cover up how the projects I’d taken over 2 months prior had been slipping for over a year. Her “warm and friendly” relationship with them made it so that they did not question her claims. For some people social skills are more a disarmament tactic to neutralize or confuse enemies, than skills that promote any social good.

      Reply
      1. Beverly Cleary Doesn't Live Here

        Ha, I had an “office mom” early on in my career who fooled me good and will forever make me wary of any and all little old ladies who are too nice to me. Although I guess technically I’m too old to be “mothered” anymore and too high ranking. She undermined me so bad, talk about two-faced. In one breath she praised me and had me doing all of this advanced administrative work for her. In the other she was taking credit for my work, bad-mouthing me to the agency that placed me there, and salting the earth so that the agency would not only not make me permanent as originally planned, but never place me at another gig in the area again. I made her look bad, I did her job better than her and she feared that they had brought me in to replace her. I was blown away with the stack of lies she had told the agency about me, but in the end it was her word against mine and she was the one who was in charge of me. So I had no recourse. But man, I would have loved a blog like this way back then.

        Reply
    4. dawbs

      I tend to think I have good instincts. And I’m not stupidly over-trusting.
      I disliked my one sister’s boyfriends for years. One after another, they were all lousy. Like 10 of them I barely tolerated.

      Then, she dated one that I liked. He was charming.
      (and when I say that, people will tell me how *THEY* never fall for charming people–that they are immune to charming people. WHen I say he was charming, I don’t mean ‘he was the sort of charming that you think of when someone says a used-car-salesman is charming’, I mean, he just seemed genuine and likeable and to make you feel like the biggest thing in the room.)

      Guess which one was the one who abused her?
      Yeah. Mr. Charming.
      (because it’ll come up, yes, she got out. He’s still around somewhere. He’s still an ass, from what I know. She’s with a lovely man, doing quite well. But it did make things hard for a few years)

      Reply
      1. Madison

        Having been in your sister’s situation, thank you for being there for her and I’m so glad she’s free from it.
        It must be annoying and condescending when people launch into comnents like that, with no knowledge or understanding of the abuse. I’m wondering if you could get the same point across by saying ‘kind, inclusive with everyone’ etc. instead of charming?

        Reply
  8. DatSci

    When I was a teenager I turned down a waitress job because the owner of the restaurant struck me as a real creep in my interview. My parents were on my case like crazy to get a summer job, but when I told them about my gut-feeling on this guy, they agreed with me to pass.
    Several months later we read in the newspaper that he was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting several of his underage staff members. I was never more grateful I trusted myself and that my parents didn’t question me on it, or worse, make me take the job anyway.

    Reply
    1. Ama

      The boss I’ve mentioned on here many times who was eventually fired for embezzlement always gave me the weirdest “off” feeling. Everyone else at the company loved him, he was being groomed for senior management, and he was always perfectly friendly, but he never felt fully genuine to me. Unfortunately I didn’t really have a choice about acting on my gut feeling since he became my boss after the boss who hired me left and only lasted a year after that, but it definitely has made me trust my judgement about people more.

      Reply
    2. bookish

      When I was a kid I resisted going to church on Sundays with all my might. Church wasn’t so bad, but the teachers at Sunday School afterwards made me uncomfortable. And yet, they hadn’t actually done anything, so I felt like I couldn’t tell my parents about my icky vibe.

      It makes me really sad to think of how little agency kids have sometimes. I remember absolutely feeling like things I said wouldn’t matter and wouldn’t affect anything – or if I actually voiced my concerns, my parents would make “too big a deal” out of it when all I wanted was to quietly stop going to Sunday school. Nothing bad happened to me, but if it had I wouldn’t have been able to get out of it, even though something felt off and I didn’t want to go.

      Reply
      1. Bess

        I think that too about a teacher I had who once really invaded my space in 5th grade. I felt so uncomfortable and powerless, but he only did it once, so I didn’t know how I’d say anything or to whom. The inherent threat behind the actions (he sort of trapped me against a wall when I was upset) really landed and I just never told anyone. Looking back, I’m not sure my school would have taken it seriously, but I wish I’d said something. I can’t have been the only one he made feel weird.

        Reply
      2. Fifty-Foot Commute

        This resonates so hard with me. I still have nightmares about my fifth grade Sunday school teacher. I know my mom also found him kind of creepy, but I still had to go every week, often by myself. I feel like I’m still unlearning some of these lessons about agency and instinct and how it’s okay to keep yourself safe even when it’s not socially advantageous.

        Reply
        1. Jill

          “kids have no agency” Yes, because they are rarely given any. As a Catholic (see: priest pedophile scandal) and as a public school district employee (google: teacher arrested for sex with student) I know all too well that children are often poo-pooed when they describe feeling weird about adults, especially adults in positions of authority or trust.

          When I had my first kid 3 years ago, I vowed that my children would understand that their body belongs to them – no matter who it is that wants access to it! Parents MUST raise their children to own their own bodies from young on – and to trust their gut when someone feels “tricky”.

          Reply
  9. Throwaway

    I work as an event planner, and when I got called in for an interview for a pretty large event production company I was excited. We did group interviews (which seems to always be a bad sign) and then one-on-ones. In the one on one, I learned that the next step of the interview was to prove I could throw a party by bringing 30 of my friends to one of their assigned bars…and making sure they all spent X amount of money. I never called them back, and when I googled them I learned how bad their turnover was (and how many people ask for refunds after their “parties” I mean “interviews”!)

    Reply
    1. Detective Amy Santiago

      … 30 people? Anyone I know would laugh at me if I asked them to show up and spend money as part of a job interview.

      Reply
    2. BTW

      I’m (somewhat) in the industry and they did a group interview for event planning? Like you said, bad sign right off the bat. I’ve never heard of such a thing in our industry, ever! This is insane! I can’t even … lol!
      I don’t get how asking 30 friends (I don’t even have that many friends haha!) to come to a bar and get sh!tfaced is a good way to prove your skills. So glad you ran far, far away!

      Reply
        1. Pup Seal

          Exactly! My boyfriend’s high school reunion barely got 30 people to show, and he had 200 people in his class.

          Reply
    3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Wait, was this event planning, or promotion? Because as skeevy as the anecdote is, this was a fairly normal “ask” for my friends who did event promotion.

      Reply
      1. Throwaway

        It was definitely an event management position. Would have made more sense for a promo job for sure (though I don’t agree with it!)

        Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          OMG this is like the “absolutely crazy-lite” version of the letter where the OP had to attend a day-long interview culminating in having to cook dinner for 40 people.

          Reply
    4. Lucy

      I don’t think I even have 30 friends to invite to a party! I like to keep my social circles tight and separate.

      Reply
    5. Fabulous

      This sounds like an episode of Shameless when Fiona was trying to get a promotion at the club where she waitressed!

      Reply
  10. Alex

    My experience has been the opposite – I’ve had bad gut experiences about feeling like I wasn’t a right fit for the job and then it turned out it’s been a perfect match, and others where I felt like it was going to be a great place to work and it turned out to be terrible. My rule of thumb has generally been to go against my gut and take the job, and it hasn’t failed me yet!

    Reply
    1. Daffodil

      I have a similar rule. I kept winding up with bad bosses that fit a very specific pattern. Turns out they all were much like my dad, and when they’re on good behavior and trying to be charming, some part of me falls for it every time. I think it’s because the pattern is familiar and comfortable. At this point I’ve learned to spot my emotional reaction to that pattern, usually after the fact. I once helped interview someone who fit this pattern to a T, and I walked out of the room shaking because I’d just survived an hour in a room with someone exactly like people who have hurt me badly. And my coworker thought I’d liked the guy, because I laughed at all his jokes and flattered him. Turns out that’s my survival mode – I’m really good at appeasing people like that.

      If I don’t quite “get” someone – if I’m not sure what makes them tick and I can’t seem to charm them – I know they’re at least not that particular type of dysfunctional.

      Reply
  11. em2mb

    I work in a niche industry where even the folks at shops in other cities know each other. I was working in a city about 8 hours from where I grew up, and I jumped at the change to interview at a place that would be much closer to home. They had a great reputation and were starting a partnership everyone thought was really innovative. The interview went well, everyone was friendly, but something just seemed … off. Then, when I was offered the job, the boss wanted an answer by the close of business that day. It was already noon! I was in a pretty toxic workplace, but for whatever reason, every fiber of my being was screaming NOOOOO!!! I passed on the opportunity.

    Soooo glad I did. It turns out, the merger ended up being really rocky, and a lot of the folks I would’ve been eager to work with left within a year. I ended up holding out at my last job for another six months before I got a great offer and landed where I’m in today. I think I would’ve been fine in the other job, but I know I would’ve been looking by now.

    Reply
  12. Anon today ....and tomorrow

    I ALWAYS listen to my gut! Years ago I was working at a retail establishment where the management was doing some massive hiring but they weren’t checking any background / references. I was a lower level manager and was being forced to train people who frankly were just bodies in the building. One recent hire gave me a case of the icks but I couldn’t get the managers to take my concerns seriously. They didn’t check references and just took this woman at her word. I ended up quitting the job with nothing lined up and couldn’t even reasonably explain to my own friends why I’d quit. Literally two days after I left the woman and her boyfriend robbed the store. It was a fully armed robbery done in the middle of an early evening shift. Her boyfriend hurt one of the other employees before taking off and leaving her behind. Police came and she was caught in the store, with a gun drawn. Luckily no shots were fired but yeah…people were traumatized.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous Poster

    I interviewed for a job where I’d move from Houston to DC. My job in Houston was likely fine, though there were layoffs happening, but I didn’t see the opportunity for upward mobility. The new job was an engineer job with defined levels based on experience and education, along with generic performance requirements. This employer is well known for holding to time and experience for low level promotions (I was still only a couple years out of school, so I was low level), and has a pretty rigid engineering level structure. It was very reasonable for me to expect to be hired at a certain level because of how relatively new to the workforce I still was. My gut feeling was off when the manager refused to hire me at my experience level but insisted at a level lower, with the justification that it would let me get additional raises that come with promotions as time goes along in the company. The company gives raises at a set time, and raises alongside a promotion, so he reasoned I’d get 2 raises a year instead of one. I was skeeved by that and told him I was concerned that my experience wasn’t being traken into account, and he said I’d attain that first promotion within a year and then my second promotion in 3 years. I was skeptical, but thought I’d have more mobility at the new place and wanted to live closer to my relatives.

    I should have listened to my gut feeling.

    People probably aren’t shocked to hear that the promotion schedule was not held to. My previous experience was dismissed as irrelevant and not applicable post-hiring. The first promotion was delayed because I had been there less than a year. The next year it was delayed again because he wasn’t happy with my performance, but that hadn’t really been an ongoing conversation. It finally happened, but then the next promotion happened after 5 years with the company. By that point I had been job searching for a little while, and found a new job ~3 months after that promotion.

    I don’t mean to bash because he wasn’t the worst manager I’ve heard of (even neglecting the winners that get written in to here about!), but my taking this job and uprooting myself revolved around this promotion schedule because it directly related to my expected pay and the rather large boost in my cost of living. My gut feeling was right and I shouldn’t have taken the job.

    But at least I can take solace that I met my now wife here in DC, and have found a very good place to work!

    Reply
    1. IT_Guy

      I had a interview with a company that was going to hire me at 5K below my current salary, but I was in an incredibly toxic workplace, and they promised a promotion shortly after I hired. I quizzed them further and since I would be there less than a year before the annual review, I wouldn’t get an annual increase/bonus. Quizzing them further led me to suspect that the promotion may or may not happen it would ‘depend on my performance’. The real red flag was when they asked how was I about handling overtime.

      The got extremely irate, when I declined to go further in the process, since the money was possibly survivable starting out, but it would be 18 months before any kind of pay equalization.

      Best move of my career.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous Poster

      In response to what I think my gut feeling was reacting to:

      My former manager was a fast talker, and really could spin a convincing story. I’m put off by people that respond to my questions with very long, wall-of-words explanations because it makes me think something’s being buried somewhere and I’m probably going to miss it.

      He was also very friendly right off the bat, which also makes me uneasy because I wonder, “why does this person think I’m their good friend already when I’ve just met them?” It’s a gut feeling that sometimes backfires, but has helped me avoid people that just want something from me.

      Reply
    3. SanguineAspect

      Ugh–what you’re describing sounds a lot like my experience with a job where I got a similar line (re: coming in at a lower tier than my experience, but being told I’d get a bump within the year). I found out once I got inside that their promotion/salary increase practices are basically like The Hunger Games (only 2 promotions per department, per career tier, and you’re competing against everyone else at your level in your department for the entire company–in an 8,000 person company, there were hundreds of people with my role and level). It’s the one and only company I worked for for less than 2 years — I was out of there in 9 months.

      Reply
  14. Jaguar

    The only time I got a strongly positive or negative feeling about a job was after the interview process. I had negotiated a salary, they gave me an offer (without the salary in it, but I didn’t think anything of it), and then after I had quit the job I was leaving and was getting set up, they told me they had to pay me a lesser wage (they didn’t have to, mind you). That’s not really interview stage, but it’s before-the-first-day stage, and the place really did turn out to be a nightmare, and thankfully I was able to leave for a better position four months after starting.

    Incidentally, they were irate when I left, accusing me (correctly) of lying when I told them I was happy with the job when they would periodically quiz me on that. I still wish I had thrown their bate and switch back in their face when I left, but oh well.

    Reply
    1. Blue

      I was once in a similar situation, but by the time they reneged on the original salary, there were enough red flags that my gut was already screaming at me to walk away. The reduction in salary was actually quite insignificant, but it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I regret *how* I turned them down, but I’m very happy that I walked away.

      Reply
  15. Happy Writer

    At my last job before becoming a freelancer, I had a bad feeling after a very strange interview with the “Big Boss.” I ignored it thinking a) I wouldn’t be working directly for him and b) I was being laid off in a week and jobs as a full-time writer aren’t exactly aplenty.
    It ended up being a really, really bad fit. Not only was “Big Boss” a total narcissist, my boss was a huge politics player who would talk sh*t about you behind your back then smile at your face. There were two many absurd circumstances to describe, but the bottom line was that by the end of my 8-month tenure (the shortest ever, by far!), I cried every day on the way to work. I was just emotionally spent. Thankfully, an old employer reached out about a part-time freelance opportunity and so my business was born! 4 years later, I’m still going strong.
    Funny thing is, that terrible job is now a client of mine. It wasn’t the work I hated, just dealing with the office politics and certain people. (Big Boss is now long gone…)

    Reply
  16. ThursdaysGeek

    It’s hard to know if the result would have been better or not…

    I was at a job that I loved: I loved the work, I loved my boss, I loved my co-workers. Then my grandboss retired, and our acting manager didn’t really seem to care about our team, and didn’t spend a lot of time acting as manager. He came to me and said he wanted me to take a different job. It was non-programming, and I’d be doing all the parts of my job I like the least (testing, documenting), working for payroll (so not a lot of time flexibility), and at the same pay (I felt underpaid). I was actually needing some time off, right as the job was going to start. But he very strongly recommended it, said I needed to take it. Every time I thought about it, I felt sick, and I finally decided that sick feeling was important and said no.

    A couple of weeks later, we had layoffs. My boss was laid off. The acting manager didn’t like my boss. Even though I was the only one supporting several projects, I was the next called in and was also laid off. The job offer was obviously a way to keep me employed, and I didn’t take it. (And one of those managers of a project I was supporting called and yelled at the manager for getting rid of me.)

    I certainly had the time off I needed, and then some. I finally found a job, about when the unemployment was running out, at $15k less per year. And I made the right decision. I was going to lose that loved boss, work, and co-workers anyway and I just didn’t know it. I’m now doing work I enjoy, with good co-workers and a decent boss. The company I was working at has generally fallen apart, and I hear it’s not that nice, from the few people who are still there.

    Reply
  17. Another Lauren

    I was headhunted a while back, and had a fabulous experience with the recruiter and her team. The hiring manager, however, was a different bucket of kittens. In the three hour long interview, she: did not make eye contact even once; interrupted me just a few words in to every sentence; told the HR person who offered me water that I didn’t want any (I did, btw); and just gave off the worst vibes. That’s the only job I’ve interviewed for where I wasn’t offered the position, and I was not sad about it.
    However: a year or so later, I interviewed for a position with a different company, and had a similarly awkward first interview with their COO (who would be my grandboss). Again, no eye contact, didn’t seem to have looked at my resume at all, checked his phone through the entire duration of the interview. I was furious, because he still kept me there for 90 minutes even though I KNEW that he wasn’t interested. As I was driving home, still seething, I got a call asking me to schedule a second interview — which I took, gut feeling be damned, because what did I have to lose?

    Aaaand, I’ve been here for three years, I’ve more than doubled my previous salary, Mr. Awkward Interview is far and away the best boss I’ve ever had, and the company that didn’t hire me sent their entire staff over to learn from the program I developed. Womp-womp.

    Reply
    1. MissGirl

      Did things go better in the second interview that changed your perception or was it a huge leap of faith?

      Reply
      1. Another Lauren

        The second interview was actually a phone interview with the person who would be my immediate boss (who couldn’t make the first interview due to an emergency). She and I got on really well, and by the time the third interview happened (with her, Mr. Awkward, and the exec director), it was pretty much just a formality. I wound up talking almost exclusively to her and the ED in the interview, since I was pretty sure that Mr. A wasn’t on board. But as it turns out, I was everyone’s first choice, and he’s just socially awkward and doesn’t realize he’s that way.

        Reply
      1. Another Lauren

        He’s awesome! He wasn’t checked out at all, he just has an almost pathological need to check email. And since we were kind of in start-up mode at that time, he was averaging 1 email every 2 minutes. He expects a lot, he’s very blunt (like one or two word emails), but you always know where you stand with him, and he goes to bat for his people. Once you figure out that he’s not going to pick up on social cues, it’s easy. I know he’ll tell me if my work sucks, and if I need him to tell me I’m going a good job, I go to his office and demand it.

        Reply
  18. Jen

    I had one that was a big time gut signal and then another minor one.

    For the biggest: I had only been out of college for about 10 months. A job from out of state called me and did three phone interviews. They would not fly me out for an in person interview (sign #1) but they also acted like they really really wanted me which was odd because my experience was OK but not so great as to merit that sort of overzealous love for my skills. They promised me a Sr. title (Sr. Associate Producer) but wouldn’t put it in writing. Being 23 and not terribly smart about these things, I didn’t demand it be put in writing. They also kept really pushing for me to get there in one week. From four states away when I had a job that I had to give notice to. Once I started, they told me that the “Sr” in my title wasn’t official and wouldn’t be my official title (Associate Producer was all I got) and I had to sign a really crazy contract or I would have lost my job that I moved across states for. The job was really cheap and really terrible and I’d ignored every single warning sign and I should have listened to my gut.

    The second one was minor but I had a few interviews at a place and my gut told me that I wasn’t a great fit – the job itself wasn’t my passion, the office seemed a little stuffier and quieter than what I needed to be happy. I took the job though and sure enough – all of my early gut instincts were right. The work was boring. The office was too quiet. I was pretty miserable there.

    Reply
  19. Jade

    I had a gut feeling I wasn’t going to like my chosen career path, and ended up being right about that one, sadly.

    Reply
    1. Serin

      I had this sort of feeling as far back as ninth grade, which is when I decided that “everyone” was right when they said that journalism was the most reasonable job path for a person who liked to write.

      I didn’t recognize it, though; I just thought that all job interviews would always feel like trying to impersonate someone I wasn’t and all work would always feel like swimming upstream. Because that was my punishment for being an introvert, or something.

      The first time I had an interview for work that actually didn’t depend on my willingness to talk to strangers all day long, it felt so easy that it almost seemed like cheating.

      Reply
      1. Vesper

        I studied journalism as well, but I knew after my first year I did NOT want to be a journalist. It gave me so much anxiety to cold-call strangers and turn stories around on a dime. Despite this, I finished my four-year program and learned a lot of really good skills. I eventually got my master’s degree in publishing and became an editor :)

        Reply
      2. jesicka309

        Yes! Career counselors need to stop recommending kids that are good at writing do journalism! Journalism is such a narrow field to study and it’s in decline & competitive too. I did 4 journalism subjects then switched to Business majoring in marketing because I was stressed out by doing interviews for assignments! Let alone how I’d do in the real world.

        Better ideas for writing inclined kids:
        -Marketing
        -PR
        -Business
        -Engineering or I.T (seriously, the value of someone who can do math or trouble shooting, AND tell me what & how they’re doing it effectively is indescribable and it’s such a rare skill!)

        Reply
        1. PM Jesper Berg

          Engineering and IT tend to be a completely different skill set than writing. Merely because you’re a good writer doesn’t mean you have an aptitude for STEM fields.

          Reply
          1. Serin

            I’m now in an IT-adjacent job (contract-related job within an IT firm). I would definitely encourage writers to check out IT firms even if they think they’re not skilled for STEM; there are writing jobs everywhere.

            Reply
      3. Hollis

        “Punishment for being an introvert” — yes! As bad a colleges’ career counselors can often be, I’m grateful to have talked to one who made me realize that it was okay to pursue a career that was actually a good fit for my personality, and that I wasn’t morally obligated to choose a career I’d never be good at just because it would prove that I was trying to be more outgoing.

        Reply
  20. engineermommy

    I was a already a supervisor at my previous employer, but a higher ranking supervisory position came open in our division. I had worked closely with the person who left, so I knew the duties and team members that position supervised. As soon as it came open, my gut knew I didn’t want that job. About a week later, my relatively new boss tossed out a comment about how he was expecting me to apply. Thought about it, and put my application in anyway. Didn’t get the job, was relieved. The person they hired call the morning of his first scheduled day to tell them he wasn’t coming. Since I was their second choice, I then got the job.

    Taking that job was the worst mistake in my life. The workload was just different enough to be too much, and the team members, oh the team members, were a cast a characters who tested me in every way possible (up to and including threatening me with physical harm). I left that job and employer in the worst physical, mental, and emotional condition I have ever been in. I’m now with a different employer in a non-supervisory position, and the thought of supervising anyone again still makes me shudder almost 4 years later.

    Reply
  21. Lurker NJ

    I had an interview for a marketing job at a telecom. Greatest interview I ever had. Met with four people, and all of them just came across wonderfully. I was so pumped for the opportunity to work with these folks.

    Then, I get a call from HR. I need to come on to talk to the VP they just hired. I Google him, learn that he was previously the CEO of a different company. I check the Glassdoor reviews of this company and… Holy Mother of God. They were dancing in the aisles when he got canned.

    I met with him anyway, and he was every bit as unpleasant as I expected. Just an arrogant, condescending jerk. I was actually hoping at that point that I’d get rejected. I just felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me.

    Turns out, I was offered the job, for $20k and two weeks more vacation than I currently had. Every alarm in my head was SCREAMING, but I couldn’t turn down that offer.

    I lasted seven months, in which time I ended up in therapy, on medication, and within a hair’s breadth of leaving with nothing lined up. In that time, every single person I had interviewed with in the first round (all wonderful people, btw) had run. I got a new job, took a $10k pay cut, and never looked back.

    Reply
  22. Mimmy

    I’m not usually very good at listening to my gut when it comes to jobs and other opportunities. I get so starry-eyed when an opportunity arises that I just wave off any red flags. I had a couple of jobs early on where I was hired on the spot, which I should’ve seen as a red flag but took them anyway. One job was truly toxic, and I lasted only 2.5 weeks. I knew right when I was hired that I’d be miserable, and I wish I had turned it down. But, I was receiving VR services, and my job coach insisted I take the job, probably to look good to the state.

    Another instance was not toxic, but when offered the job, I had some inklings that I was really going to struggle. But I had been looking for most of that year, and took it on a leap of faith. That job lasted me less than a year.

    Now I’m in my first job in several years, and it was awesome as it was presented to me during the interview. One month in, and the spidey senses are returning. I don’t think it’ll be toxic–everyone is very nice–but something is telling me that it won’t be as awesome as promised. I really hope I’m wrong because I can easily see a career within this agency.

    Reply
  23. Hannah

    I am a big believer in gut feelings! I think that they are your brain’s way of interpreting things you pick up on but don’t have the room to fully process in the logical way. I’ve definitely turned down (or actually, just withdrew from the interview processes) jobs where I just knew something wasn’t right. I don’t have the benefit of knowing how things turned out for whoever did take those positions, but don’t regret not taking them myself.

    With my current job, I’d been aggressively job searching without a ton of luck and just a handful of interviews that were all underwhelming and where I was really stretching to be the right fit. I was really desperate to get out of the job I had at the time. After being rejected a few times, when I interviewed with the job I have now, I just knew I was going to get an offer this time, and I was right.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      The book “The Gift of Fear” makes this point exactly about gut feelings saying that there are small clues – non-verbals mainly that some of our senses pick up on and can’t process and therefore we just get that “ick” feeling – the book is a great read about trusting your gut. He even does a great job of talking to people and helping them identify those little cues that they’d noticed so you get better at noticing them again. It’s a Sherlock Holmes kind of thing. On some level we’re observing the thing that “just isn’t right” but our brain isn’t fully processing it for what it means – just that “this isn’t right and my spidey sense is tingling.”

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Yes! I love that about that book.

        I’m dying to ask everyone commenting here to see if they can figure out what their brain/gut was reacting to, because I bet there were signs there that they were picking up on.

        Reply
        1. Drea

          I got my wallet stolen, and I realized later that I did glance to my side and notice a man standing next to me, which I thought nothing of. Upon realizing what happened, and thinking about it more, I think what my brain was noticing was that it was raining pretty hard, and the man did not seem concerned – no umbrella, raincoat, good, etc. I assume he needed two free hands to do the pickpocket. Something was “off” but alas I couldn’t figure it out in time to keep my wallet!

          Reply
      2. LBK

        Yes! I love that part of the book. The woman realizing she knew her attacker was going to kill her because he closed the window was as fascinating as it was chilling.

        Reply
        1. Lissa

          I really resisted reading that book for years because of the way people talked about it online, funnily enough. A lot of people talk about “gut instincts” like they are these magical signs that come from nowhere but are always right, which is a philosophy I don’t agree with (I am quite enjoying the stories where people are wrong in this thread too!). Then I actually read the book and really really liked it, because it wasn’t “instinct magic!” at all but explaining where those type of feelings could come from.

          Reply
          1. LBK

            Agreed – I don’t think a lot of the praise I hear about it really does it justice. It’s a lot more scientific than just “trust your gut,” even though that’s not necessarily an inaccurate summary of his thesis.

            Reply
        2. Seuuze

          This is before the age of cell phones. Once I traveled to a suburb I’d never been to outside my city to spend some time with a friend. It was the weekend and on the way home I stopped at a post office to mail a letter. Post offices on weekends can be empty and sometimes scary for women. I was alone when I went in, but upon leaving, a man was there with his hand in the letter slot. As I had to walk past him to leave, I got a scary tingling on the back of my neck and I felt scared in my gut. He said something like “I need some help here” acting like his hand was stuck or something. I mumbled something and very quickly walked past him to jump in my car and leave. I knew, deep in my gut, that he wanted me to go over to him and see what was wrong so he could grab me. I noticed it was the perfect set-up as women like to be helpful. As I got in my car I noticed that his vehicle was a delivery truck with a big box on the back and no windows. I shudder to think what may have gone on in the back of that truck.

          Reply
      3. Symplicite

        Mine was about a truck that had pulled up next to me in a grocery store parking lot. I’d been on the bluetooth handsfree with my Mom, and I had a feeling that he wasn’t ‘right’. Turns out I was right: he clipped the front end of my car as he was getting out of the parking space! My year-old brand new car had its front bumper torn off, and totally devalued my car. On a plus note, he was an honest guy who actually paged me in the store, gave me his insurance info and whatnot, so it wasn’t a complete wash. But I should’ve trusted my spidey-sense at that moment and moved my car.

        Reply
  24. Sami

    Yep. When I was 19 or so (had temporarily dropped out of college) I was looking for live-in nanny jobs. I drove 3+ hours to meet with a family. They were nice enough but I just had a bad feeling about the situation. I don’t think they would’ve been awful or anything like that, just a very bad fit for me. I’m definitely glad I listened to myself, even at a relatively young age.

    Reply
  25. The Other Dawn

    Yes, I’ve had the gut feeling…and ignored it to my detriment.

    The bank I’d worked for for 18 years shut down and I had to figure out which direction to go, as I’d been a Jill-of-all-trades. I’d been on unemployment for a couple months and totally loving it, but it was time to get a job. Someone who had worked as a consultant at my previous bank was working at another bank, and she called me about a new position she created. I went in for the interview and it went just fine. The job sounded interesting and I thought it was the direction I wanted to go (compliance/risk), so I accepted the job offer when it came. During the same timeframe another bank’s CEO had been trying to hire me, but I didn’t want to go there because I thought I didn’t want to go that direction (information security/IT); I’d been traumatized by having to be the IT person in my previous bank, which had no resources and I was the available body for the job, and didn’t want to deal with that again.

    So, the first day at the new job comes. I go for my mandatory drug test and then head to the office afterwards. I arrive at the parking lot and suddenly a voice–that’s the only way I describe it–comes into my head and tells me, “You’re at the wrong place.” It was clear as a bell. I ignored it, shut off the engine, and went into the building. Within a month I was crying in the shower daily and calling the other bank to see if they would take me; however, they’d already hired someone else. I ended up with the wrong job, the wrong company, the wrong kind of boss, the wrong culture. Everything about it was wrong. It was a crappy 10 months until I finally found my current job. I took it as a lesson that I should never ignore my gut. And I typically don’t. But I did this time for some reason, and I paid for it.

    Reply
    1. Bess

      Wow! It’d be so interesting to try to examine the little signs you maybe subconsciously picked up on to get such a clear warning. Not that you always can…sometimes it’s just a flash like that. Glad you’re in another situation now!

      Reply
    1. Gut feels

      Feel the same way.

      After interviewing with two companies (one is a fortune 10 company, another is less than $B) and receiving both offers, my gut was telling me the smaller company would make for a great fit. I enjoyed speaking with everyone, and the VP personally emailed me stating I would make a great fit. But because I was laid off recently, a combination of nerves and fear pushed me to accept the fortune 10 company where the job isn’t as interesting.

      My gut was telling me “smaller company!”, and I went against it. I’m scheduled to start the new job in 2 weeks, but my gut now is telling me to reach out to the VP. I wonder if I made the wrong choice….

      Reply
      1. The Other Dawn

        Personally, I’d contact the VP before it’s too late. It might be already, but you’ll forever be wondering if you don’t at least try. Yes, you accepted a job offer already, but you didn’t start the job yet. I say you should go with your gut. I wish I had (see the post above F’s). It would have been a smaller company, a more interesting job, and a better culture.

        Reply
        1. Gut feels

          Thank you “The Other Dawn”, really appreciate it.

          This smaller company is also a place where people stay long-term and have had a great tenure (based on linkedin profiles and my interviews). The role I accepted with the fortune 10 company is in their oil and gas division, which concerns me now given the current industry dynamics; whereas the other company is growing rapidly and places heavy emphasis on culture and people.

          Well, here goes. Shooting off a note now! Thanks again!

          Reply
          1. The Other Dawn

            You’re welcome. And good luck! I feel like your gut is right on this one. My current job has just what your smaller company has: a heavy emphasis on culture and people, as well as long-term employees who wouldn’t dream of leaving because they feel there’s no place better to work.

            Reply
          2. SanguineAspect

            YES!! Especially if you know you work well at smaller orgs vs. larger ones, definitely go with your gut! They’re very different feels and I learned the hard way (9 months of hell I’ll never get back) that I don’t like working for giant companies. Small orgs are where it’s at for me!

            Reply
  26. Bend & Snap

    I had employee conversations for an interview process in the conference industry and it was ALLLLL red flags.

    minimum mandatory 55 hour work week, (for salaried workers) “we work a lot,” “management has high expectations” and other nightmare statements that I ignored because I needed a job.

    It ended up being the most unprofessional, toxic, crazy place I have ever worked.

    Example: Someone printed porn on the work printer. Instead of tracing it back to the employee like a normal company would, the president berated everyone during a group meeting and taped the photo to the wall.

    Also, it turned out the 55 hours were counted by when people could see you instead of when you were working.

    So I did my “extra” hours in the morning every day, but they didn’t count because everyone else did theirs at night, and I got dinged in my review. i only lasted 7 months before I quit.

    Reply
    1. peep

      That’s insane! 55 hours only when people can see you?! I guess I would’ve put a puppet in my chair or something. Ugh.

      Reply
    2. SanguineAspect

      Reminds me of the time my once-CEO was going through a divorce and brought a returned portrait he’d had photographed for his ex wife into the office. It was a poster-sized photograph of our CEO from behind. He was nude in the picture. Our cafeteria manager thought it was hilarious and asked him to leave it in the cafe. He did. Fortunately, our mortified HR manager removed it (in a black plastic bag) about 15 minutes later. But not before the morning cafe crowd got an eyefull.

      Reply
  27. JP

    I didn’t listen to my gut and got screwed. This was my first professional job offer and didn’t really know any better. I went into the interview for an “entry level” position where the manager basically just tried to convince me to take the job and barely asked any questions. It seemed odd at the time, but I really wanted to make sure I was employed, so I took the job. It ended up being simple data entry (I have a master’s degree!) and I was asked to resign after 6 weeks because they didn’t feel like training me (for an entry level job!!!!).

    Reply
    1. soupmonger

      So you feel your masters degree means you need no training whatsoever, even to find out the details of data entry?

      Reply
      1. Clinical Social Worker

        It sounds like OP meant the opposite, they were let go because the company assumed they would need no training whatsoever and that OP felt that not being provided training was ridiculous and unfair.

        Reply
      2. V

        I read JP’s comment to say that he thinks training is appropriate for an entry-level job/companies should plan to train entry-level employees, but that this company didn’t want to train him, so they asked him to resign.

        Reply
  28. Mimi

    Ironically, this post is currently driving me crazy because my “gut feeling” is currently blinded by stress (many things), worry, and fear. I don’t know where else to ask so I need to throw this here.

    I managed to pick up a retail job in the midst of job hunting. I accepted that one because I didn’t know when/if anything else was going to come for a while. I have yet to give them a start date but I need to soon.

    While waiting for background checks to come back on the retail position, I got an interview for a great company in a field I have desperately been trying to get into. I had 2 interviews, one with their main hiring person who is also a VP and another interview with the same person plus another higher up. After the 2nd interview, they had me have lunch with the team in which the open position would be with. I had a good feeling after the second interview and sent a thank you note promptly. I was told I would likely hear back by the end of the week.

    It’s been a week and I have heard nothing. I need to get back to the retail position with a start date but I don’t want to give them a start date then have to leave in case the Major Job works out by some holy miracle. But I do need the retail to keep myself afloat if Major Job ends up being a dead end after all.

    I’ve spent this week unable to sleep, eat, or do anything due to stress because I want Major Job so badly but I don’t want to bring my hopes up. At the same time, I am afraid of following up incorrectly and hurting my chances for it.

    I feel all of this stress has clouded my judgment and I’m afraid of making bad decisions. Does anyone have any input?

    Reply
    1. Lora

      Take the retail job for now. It may take them a while to put together an offer, if they even do make one. Send the recruiter a quick email, no more than a couple of lines, next week, saying something like “just checking in to see how things are going”. That’s it.

      Reply
    2. Sydney

      It’s been a week and you haven’t heard anything. Call them or send them an email and ask them where they are at in the hiring process. You’ve waited a reasonable amount of time.

      Reply
    3. Kathleen Adams

      First of all, it’s totally normal for somebody to say “You’ll hear by the end of the week” and then not in fact get back to you by the end of the week. They usually aren’t misleading you on purpose because they almost certainly really want to get it settled in a week, but these things *very* often take a lot longer than everybody wants them to.

      You could try emailing someone at Major Job and asking them if they have a better idea when they’ll make a decision. But if that doesn’t work (e.g., if they just can’t make any promises right now), what I would do is accept Retail Job, and then if the Major Job works out, quit the retail job with many thanks and apologies. This isn’t ideal, but a gal’s gotta eat. That’s how I look at it.

      Look at it this way: Assuming you hear from Major Job in just a couple of weeks, Retail Job won’t have invested much time and effort in training you, so while not the best thing in the world, it won’t be the worst thing either. And retail jobs are generally used to pretty high turnover anyway.

      Good luck!

      Reply
    4. Turtlewings

      Allison always says proceed as if you didn’t get the job. Give a start date at the retail job asap. Even if you get this job, it could be weeks before you hear anything! And if you have to leave the retail job abruptly, that’s not ideal, but trust me — retail places are used to it.

      Reply
      1. Mimi

        I’m so sorry! I felt it had to do with gut instinct but I didn’t realize I tangented horrendously.

        Your follow up advice has been helpful in me trying to keep myself grounded though. Thank you for them.

        Reply
      2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        Sorry, Alison! I posted before I saw your update and didn’t mean to continue to reply.

        Reply
    5. Sal

      Give retail a start date. If you have to break it for a full-time (?) gig in your preferred field, oh well. It’s not the most professional thing that you could do, but it’s understandable.

      Reply
    6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Take the retail job and be ok with possibly quitting on short notice and without spending much time there. I’m assuming by “retail” you mean on-the-floor sales, in which case high turnover (with little notice and less than a year’s service) is pretty common. If you mean something higher up the chain, then it may make sense to check-in with Major Job.

      Reply
  29. Anon2day

    I had a gut feeling about my current position but I was a new grad and student loans were looming and I’d just moved to the area but wasn’t making a lot of headway in the types of organizations I was interested in, so I took it. While I did what I had to do, I’ve been miserable ever since and many days, I wish I had listened to my gut and waited it out even just a little longer.

    Reply
  30. Pup Seal

    Right out of college, I applied for a job at a start-up well known in the higher education field. They company is actually in the same building where I currently work (awkward!), and I know the CEO himself. First, it took them 2.5 months to respond to my application and set up a phone interview. They then canceled it and also called me the wrong name. Then a month later they contacted me again asking if I were still interested in the position. I was put off by the whole thing, so I decided to pass. For awhile, I regretted not interviewing. This company has parties all the time where employees get free food, and their wages and benefits sound great.

    Recently, they just laid off a bunch of people, and some are quitting. I think in the beginning I had a gut feeling they were really disorganized, and I think a combination of disorganization and expanding too fast is taking a hit on them. My supervisor has also overheard some of the employees gossiping about their co-workers in the lobby, and I’m pretty sure it’s this company whose employees were stealing my food from the shared kitchen area.

    Reply
  31. Office Mercenary

    I’m job hunting, and I’m not sure if I should trust my gut or not. I’ve been very indecisive during this job hunt thanks to paralysis through analysis; for example, relocating to one place prevents me from having the benefits of relocating to another, while specializing in one subject would take time away from my other professional interests, etc. It’s been hard to make plans for a lot of reasons, and I recognize I’ve been making it harder for myself by trying to pursue all options at once. Every time I start to commit to one time-consuming course of action, I start to get nervous about the other, equally time-consuming options.

    That said, I’m not sure if the job I interviewed for this morning is right for me. I’d be able to relocate internationally, work directly with the director, and take on significant responsibility when the department starts a new program later this year. I wouldn’t have to pay taxes, either, and a classmate of mine who works there is happy with the work environment. However, a quick Google search shows one of the company’s other divisions has been involved in some seriously unethical stuff. Unethical behavior is unfortuntely common in that industry, and the division with which I interviewed is much more respectable, but I still feel a little uneasy. I’m also not crazy about the lack of a 401k and don’t know if this job would help me learn new skills. Am I just having cold feet? Should I commit to something, build my resume, and then move on once I’ve learned all I can? Or stay away?

    Reply
    1. MissGirl

      Can you make a list of everything you’re looking for in a position and then prioritize them? Unless you’re really lucky, no job is 100% perfect. List your must-haves, your biggest wants, and things that would be nice. Also weigh how much you need this job versus the risk of a continued search. It also doesn’t sound like you have an offer yet so you don’t have to make a decision yet. Keep educating yourself.

      As for the other decisions, I would suggest making a choice and moving forward with something. If it’s wrong, you can change your mind later. Life is long. Remember, not making a decision is in itself a decision. It’s much better to live a life you choose than one you’ve default into.

      Reply
      1. Office Mercenary

        Thanks for your advice! Making lists really appeals to my inner overthinker. :) I don’t have an offer yet, but the second interview is on Sunday and then they’re making a decision on Monday. They want the new hire to start asap, preferably on May 8th. That leaves less than two weeks for a transcontinental move, and I doubt I’ll hear back from my other applications before then. If I get the offer, I’ll have to make a decision about this job pretty much immediately.

        Reply
        1. Halpful

          another thought that might help: would you be mad at a friend for picking the second-best job available? probably not. so it’s not reasonable to be mad at yourself for it either. Forgive yourself in advance for probably not picking the perfectly optimal choice based on limited information.

          (easier said than done, by far, but the sooner you start trying the sooner you’ll eventually change those feelings)

          Reply
      1. Jo

        No, you don’t, unless your annual income is over a certain amount (I think around $90,000 or so). You still have to *file* taxes in the US but unless you make that amount or more, you shouldn’t have to pay anything.

        Reply
      2. Office Mercenary

        The first $100k or so is tax-free, and the country where I’d be living doesn’t collect income tax. The base salary in this case isn’t great, but since it’s untaxed it’s equivalent to a much higher salary stateside. I wouldn’t be paying into Social Security, though, so it’s even more important to invest in a retirement plan, which this job doesn’t provide. I’d have to set aside a little extra, which is another cost to consider.

        However, if I can get a security clearance, there are equivalent jobs in DC that pay much more, even after taxes, and have retirement plans.

        Another issue: I just started freelancing for another company in the same field, and found out their conflict of interest policy would require me to choose between the two companies.

        Reply
  32. MissGirl

    Two instances stand out to me. When I was in college and about to graduate, I went to an alumni event where grads talked about the working world. I wanted to get into book publishing but the speakers were all tech writers. I felt like I should approach one of the speakers with my resume but was uncertain as her career was different, and I had just discovered my resume had a huge error (a editor). I spoke to her anyhow and she mentioned someone had recently reached out to her about a position she wasn’t interested in and asked me for my resume. I reluctantly handed it over error and all. A few months later, I was hired at the company where I stayed for ten years.

    Several years later, I wanted to move to a new area and there was only one publishing company there. I was excited to get an interview with the owner but that’s when a little crazy came out. During the interview, the owner who was also a realtor offered to help me buy a house, he went off on several odd tangents, and was very excited about what I thought were bad ideas for marketing. Nothing too horrible but things to consider.

    I received a job offer a few days later (December 23) asking me to start on January 1. Gut says run. My company was closed the week between Christmas and New Years, so this wouldn’t allow me to give them any notice, let alone it was less than two weeks. I told him I couldn’t start that early and he rescinded the offer, even though he said he created the position specifically for me. I felt I dodged a bullet. Around January 1, he reached out again to say he couldn’t find anyone and asked if I wanted the job. I politely refused.

    A year or so later, he winds up in the news because he went on a homophobic rant against an author and refused to publish his books. I also spoke with former employees and most only lasted a year there.

    Reply
  33. Shadow

    i try not to rely on gut feeling without exploring the cause of it. I think if you cant explain plainly exactly why you have a certain gut feeling that feeling is just as likely to be flawed by irrationality and or prejudices.

    Reply
    1. Nora

      I agree! I’ve seen many people make racist/sexist/elitist decisions and blame it on their “gut feeling”

      Reply
      1. Shadow

        Your comment makes me wonder about the post last week about the manager that didn’t want to hire the black girl.

        Reply
    2. Bess

      +1. I’m a big believer in gut feelings/spidey-senses, but these important tools can be flawed based on messed up life experiences, socialization, bias, etc. I don’t think I’d go so far as to say it needs to be plainly explainable…because I don’t think those signals from the subconscious always (or even often) allow themselves to be captured that way…but I do think examination is often warranted, if it’s not a split-second decision kind of situation.

      I also am not always the best about separating raw emotion from what I think of as true, gut, “know in your bones” stuff. Learning to quietly listen and sift those forces has been really important for me in decisionmaking.

      Reply
    3. Jaguar

      Agreed. Gut feelings are good when you don’t have anything better to go on and at least make some effort to live honestly, introspectively, and fearlessly (which is to say, respectively, you don’t delude yourself into believing more convenient ideas, you look inside yourself for what biases you carry and what crappiness you’re capable of, and you don’t avoid things basis of fear). However, they shouldn’t be weighted over things you can quantify. Like, there are people that have gut feelings that higher education is corrupting, but those people probably shouldn’t make decisions on the basis of that gut feeling.

      Reply
    4. Lissa

      Definitely agree. There’s a mindset that goes “always trust your gut” and stops there, and I find it really does not work for me, and also can lead frustrating places. So Anna trusts her gut and thinks Beth is awesome, but Candy’s gut says Beth is not awesome. One is wrong, but this cannot be possible, because they both trusted their gut, dammit!

      I also find that people who believe their instincts are always right about people can end up at higher risk to get fooled because they don’t look at other signs, just how they feel about the person. Gut reaction is just one tool of many in evaluating a situation.

      Reply
  34. Folklorist

    I had a bad gut feeling about a job once, and it turned out to be right. Unfortunately, I ignored it and took the job anyway–I had been unemployed for a few months, and if I turned down the job, I would lose my unemployment benefits. I really, really needed the paycheck and the benefits! It was far and away the most cartoonishly toxic workplace I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t believe it existed if I hadn’t worked there!

    I’ve written about it here before–tiny company (5 people with 2 owners and the other 3 wanted to quit). One owner turned me into her personal babysitting service; the other constantly laughed in my face about how much she lowballed me and was paying me way below what she should, while at the same time saying things like, “You’re so lucky you’re poor–I have so much trouble figuring out how to spend my money!” while I was worried about losing my apartment and taking second jobs. Then said that she couldn’t afford to give raises. (Another great boss-ism: “You know, you should really apply to be on Survivor. Maybe then you’d finally lose weight!”) They worked hard to bilk non-profits out of their money and bragged about how much they were charging these places to do fake market research–for which they made up the numbers they reported. They finally fired me less than a year after I started when they found out that I was applying to grad school.

    Even with as desperate as I was, I SO wish that I had listened to that gut feeling. Everything went wrong with that interview. Even when they offered me the job, they emailed the offer three times(!!) and my email somehow rejected it every time. They ended up calling me and bullying me into making a decision about taking the job that day. Right after I was hired, I got invited for a couple of great interviews, but didn’t feel like I could go on them. It took about six years, but I finally have mostly shaken off the PTSD and bad habits that the toxic atmosphere drilled into me! The best thing I can say is that I learned a lot about how NOT to run a business while working there!

    Reply
    1. Snork Maiden

      My jaw kept getting progressively lower and lower throughout your entire post. Survivor?? Making up research numbers to bilk charities???? All that’s missing is a forcible liver transplant and a lot of quacking!

      Reply
      1. Folklorist

        Yeah, this was in 2009… maybe right when AAM was getting started, but definitely before I knew it existed! I would have had so many shocking letters to contribute! “Alison, my boss is mad that I shut my office door when she brought her daughter in because I needed to concentrate and the kid’s playing hide-and-seek under my desk. She’s saying I must hate kids. What do I do?”

        “Alison, my other boss and my coworker got in an hours-long screaming match. It made me really uncomfortable, but they said that that’s how they communicate here… they don’t hold in their emotions. But when the printer broke down and I groused at it, they called me into their office to talk about my negativity. Help!”

        “Alison, my boss says that I won’t get a raise unless I come up with ways to save the company money. I came up with several, including printing on both sides of the paper (we print thousands and thousands of pages each week one-sided when our printer can easily handle two-sided printing), or moving our systems online so we don’t print at all. She laughed at each one and said they were “too hard”. How do I get her to consider my ideas?”

        And on, and on, and on….

        Reply
        1. Folklorist

          “Alison, I’ve had to pull three all-nighters in two weeks to accommodate my boss’s crazy production schedule but I was proud of myself when I made all of my deadlines. When she called me into her office, I thought she was going to thank me for my hard work… instead she criticized me for “seeming unhappy” and threatened to fire me! She said that I “act like they should be thanking me for doing my basic job.” I kill myself every week for them to do a great job (amd they grudgingly about that I learned the job much faster than anyone else) but they’ve never even smiled at me! What can I do?”

          Reply
    2. Been There, Done That

      I can so relate. In the early 2000s recession I was job hunting. Interviews were scarce but I got several. One was with a woman who was just very unpleasant and I knew I’d never want to work for her. I was praying one of the other jobs would come through, but guess which one was the only offer I got. I too needed a paycheck and benefits, so I accepted. Ms. Unpleasant had told me the vacancy was because it was a newly created position; that was a lie. The place had a revolving door. In fact, they’d hired another applicant before me; after one week she left a voice mail that she wouldn’t be back. No one in at least 4 years previous had stayed long enough to get on the 401k (one-yr waiting period). Ms. Unpleasant treated the other lady in the dept. like dirt in front of me and badmouthed her to me behind her back. Other Lady left a few months after I arrived. Then Ms. Unpleasant started in on me. She railed at me for doing the financial reports exactly as I’d been trained to do them. I started looking again, but Ms. Unpleasant beat me to the punch. I felt like a horrible failure. I saw that job advertised 2 or 3 times in the next couple of years, and a neighbor who was a manager told me that when a job frequently comes vacant, it means the problem is the manager, not the workers.

      Reply
  35. TCO

    My gut has always (or almost always–sometimes you don’t really know the “what if” about a job you don’t take) paid off in job-searching. I do my best to always trust my gut while job-searching. I can’t think of any bullets dodged that were wildly major, but I have definitely avoided places where I’d be unhappy, and even more importantly, ended up in some really fulfilling jobs because my gut said yes when my head wasn’t so sure. (But I’m an N on the Myers-Briggs, so it’s naturally how I make many decision. It’s worth knowing that about yourself.)

    Reply
  36. Catalyst

    I can’t say that I have had an experience where I have not taken a job because of gut feelings, but more than once I have felt that someone I was interviewing was off and then been talked into hiring that person because they were totally qualified, etc. Each time it didn’t work out, and now no matter how hard my boss pushes, I won’t hire someone I don’t ‘feel good’ about, I think she thinks I’m insane when I say I just don’t feel it and I won’t hire that person, but at least she lets me follow my gut.

    Reply
  37. VroomVroom

    Two years ago almost exactly, my current position was in a flux because of a reorg. I was in the same role, but as an external contractor, and the budget for my role was being reallocated in the end of Q2. My boss told me to job hunt, but he’d also try to work out what he could, and to keep an open line of communication with him.
    Well, I was offered a position with a large German Manufacturer. The position was a pay cut, but I was going from external contractor to internal employee with benefits, etc. so I expected that – but it was a tad bit below what I told them my bottom dollar was. I spoke to my boss about it once I got the offer, and he actually had great insight – he’d started his career at that company and spent 15 years there in the 80s and 90s. He said he understood if I took it, but that it wasn’t a great company and they still try to screw him on his retirement account he has with them (so not just the ‘old’ culture, but current). He also said he felt he was *very* close to getting something worked out to bring me internal in my current role, so I passed on the role.
    The VP of the region (boss of the person who would be my boss’s boss) called me personally and begged me to reconsider. He offered a 7k signing bonus to get me to my bottom dollar – but TBH even if it was just about money, a signing bonus is only a one time thing and that doesn’t make up for less salary. I still held firm and turned down the offer.

    Less than two months later, the news broke about that German Manufacturer being involved in a major emissions scandal…. Dodged a bullet there!

    Reply
  38. MissMaple

    Yeah, I’ve definitely made a mistake when I was trying to get out of one situation that seemed untenable at the time…and ended up somewhere worse. I wish I’d been reading AAM at the time because I think I would have understood some of the signs for what they were. The people weren’t horrible, it was just a matter of being disorganized and unclear about business norms.

    The interview was extremely short with a panel required to ask set questions and not answer any of mine. While I was driving back to work from the interview, the manager called and said he needed to call all my references and that he had to speak to my current manager before he could move forward. After everything was so rushed, and he’d tipped off my manager, I got an unofficial offer contingent on background check and finger printing. It took three months for them to get through that process. Honestly, I don’t remember ever deciding to take the job or officially accepting, it just seemed like a forgone conclusion after everything I’d gone through that I’d start when they gave me a start date.

    When I finally got there, the manager didn’t seem to remember me. The job ended up being entirely different from what was described in the job listing, whether it had changed in the ensuing 3 months or they’d never intended to have me do what I’d been planning to work on was never clear to me. The job responsibilities were completely outside my experience and not something I even would have applied for if it had been described as such. In the end, I lasted about a year and a half. I learned a lot, but gained 20 lbs and got an ulcer in the process because of the stress of the disorganization and unexpected travel required.

    Reply
  39. Lora

    Oh boy. Took a job where the HR and hiring manager had approached me via LinkedIn. I knew going in that I was going to hate it, was going to be bored silly but the boss was at least a good guy. Three weeks in, I was informed that I would be getting a new boss due to reorganization of the department.

    Two weeks later, I was sitting in a training session and there was this horrible guy in it. He asked questions just to show off how smart he wasn’t, dragged the training out for hours longer than it should have been with a bunch of snarky nonsense that was completely unnecessary and even a little nasty to the trainer, implying that she didn’t know what she was doing (she did). I missed my regular train because he dragged it out so long with his egomania. I had no idea who this guy was, but the tone of his voice as soon as he spoke three words set my teeth on edge.

    Of course, he was my new boss. The job went from “boring but tolerable” to fantasizing about my boss’ untimely death on a daily basis. Our department had 100% turnover.

    Reply
  40. Girl Alex PR

    I was offered a very high paying job at a federal law enforcement agency in my hometown. While the location was ideal for me in terms of wanting to be near my family, I live in D.C. The agency head bent over backwards to get me to take the job, offering to let me stay at their D.C. HQ until I could sell my home, etc. But something just felt off. Like the LW, I would have used my one “uproot my husband’s career” card, and I just couldn’t pull the trigger. I stay in touch with the new hire (it’s a small field) and she is MISERABLE. I’m blissfully happy at my job and am so grateful I trusted my gut- even in the face of being offered exactly what I assumed was my dream job!

    Reply
  41. imakethings

    OH yes! I interviewed for an entry level marketing position last year. I showed up to the sketchy office (broken toilets, sparse walls, folding chairs) and knew IMMEDIATELY this place was bad news. There was a line of us waiting in the “lobby” with the secretary, who was conducting phone screens about 2 feet from us. At one point I went to the bathroom and considered just leaving, but sheer curiosity won. I was called into an office that was equally dingy with one bad ikea print on the wall and a younger guy in an oversized suit coat starts giving me this spiel about all the things I’ll learn at this job. I repeatedly asked him, “So what is this job exactly?” and I’m finally able to deduce that it’s a company that is contracted out to Costcos and Sam’s Clubs to pass out food samples. The catch is, you have to set up the appointments yourself. A total pyramid scheme. I glared at him and half answered questions for the remainder of the interview, not even bothering to show how pissed I was (I had bought a nice new pair of pants and commuted 45 min for this garbage).

    I looked into it again a couple of months ago and could find no evidence that the company even existed. Prior to showing up for the interview, I had found multiple LinkedIn profiles listed it as their employer. Those profiles no longer exist.

    Reply
  42. heismanpat

    I went against my gut feeling and I regretted it.

    I desperately wanted to leave my current employer after being used and abused for the better part of 8 years. I lined up 3-4 interviews rather quickly (experienced software developers are hard to come by). One of these places employed a good friend, so with a personal reference, they got the ball rolling pretty quickly. That was when the good vibes stopped.

    Their interview process was a shit show. First, I had to record a “video interview” (stare into a web camera and answer 10 questions). For the in-person interview, everyone in the room was an emotionless, soulless robot. I could tell that none of them wanted to be there. It looked like they were all miserable puppy dogs waiting to be put down. Any attempt at humor or levity was met with stone cold stares. I left both interviews feeling like I failed miserably, but they were extremely impressed and gave me an offer almost immediately.

    At one point, I reached out to my friend to ask about their behavior. He assured me they were “poker players” and this was how they treated him too. Honestly, I sensed a bad vibe and would have walked away if my friend hadn’t sold me on the place.. Instead, I wound up accepting their offer and I didn’t even last 3 months before jumping ship. The company got bought out the week I started and things went downhill quickly (my manager changed after a month, an on-call rotation was implemented, and I got cheated out of a quarterly bonus that should have been pro-rated at 2/3).

    I’ll never doubt my gut again.

    Reply
  43. Dislike Names

    I ignored a gut feeling and it was a bad, bad move on my part. I started a job where the home office was in another state, across the country. I was asked to stay for a week. They arranged an AirBnb for me and when I arrived, the place was uninhabitable. I had only one person’s contact info, and it was very hard to get ahold of her. I actually thought about just staying and not complaining – who wants to complain on the day BEFORE their first day – but then I found underwear in the bed and I escalated the issue. I was put up in a hotel, which was fine. I chalked it up to AirBnb.

    When I got to the office the next day, no one was there yet. It was 9a. Once someone arrived, I was told my computer wasn’t ready yet and I should take my own computer (that I wasn’t asked to bring) and watch some videos. The computer was delivered mid morning the next day, and was inoperable when I opened it up. I spent about a half hour on with apple support to get it running. I chalked it up to bad luck.

    A month in, when things were going very badly, nothing was being managed well, and expectations became unrealistic, I told the owner I was bowing out, as I didn’t think this was a match and I wanted to leave and basically pretend it never happened. And THIS is where my gut instinct was telling me to follow through – and I let them talk me into staying. 8 months later, we mutually split – they would have fired me had I not said I was leaving. I will never ignore that gut feeling again.

    Reply
    1. Delta Delta

      The last paragraph is unfortunate. I worked once with a guy who wanted to leave and gave notice. The job was a bad fit for him and the fact it didn’t fit stressed him out to the point he didn’t feel like himself anymore. The boss talked him in to staying. He limped along for 6-8 months, all the while deteriorating. He had a complete breakdown and ended up in the ER. I have heard different versions of the ending of this, but I do know he called the office from the ER and said he had to quit. Some sort of severance was negotiated and literally nobody has seen him again. If everyone had gone with their respective guts, probably none of that would have happened.

      Also, ew to the underwear in the bed.

      Reply
      1. Dislike Names

        wow – that is terrible that it went that far with your former colleague. I wasn’t ER worthy but I had several bouts of panicky crying to my husband where he took me by the shoulders and looked me in the eye and said PLEASE. QUIT. I don’t think I ever felt so out of control while working. luckily, it was a remote job, so no one else saw me.

        and yeah, the underwear. thanks for the validation!!

        Reply
  44. tangoecho5

    Oh yes, my spidey sense was on one time.
    I interviewed with the person who would be my supervisor. I could tell that she was not that friendly and something seemed off. I felt like she’d be difficult to work for. Well I received an offer and accepted it. Not because I discounted my feelings, it was because at that point I was working part time in retail and wanted to divorce my spouse. This was a full time job for a Fortune 50 company and paid significantly more than I was making and was a “professional” job. I felt that if working for this person sucked, I could hopefully make it through 1 year before I internally transferred. Well it turned out that she was not fun to work for. We called her Cujo and used to IM each in the morning to warn of her mood for the day if she was nasty. I used to say that if I didn’t need the job, I would’ve quit. But I made it through and took a promotion to another department.
    I think whenever possible it’s best to listen to your intuition.

    Reply
  45. Delta Delta

    One summer in college I interviewed for a PIRG, not really knowing what it was. I had no idea what the project was that the organization was working on, and the interviewer vaguely mentioned “canvassing.” Then he told me I was so impressive I would be a manager. 20 years later, I understand that PIRGs do really good work, and that I probably would have gotten some neat experience. But the fact that the guy didn’t tell me what the job was but that I’d be managing it (at age 18 or 19 or whatever I was) felt like a flag. I declined and got a retail job where at least I knew I was supposed to be folding t-shirts or whatever.

    I can also think of a couple red flags that I experienced while I was helping with interviewing candidates for a position at an old company. One was a woman who showed up and said she was interested in Y job, when the interview was for X. She said BigBoss promised her that Y was actually the job when he called to set up the interview. I’m 50/50 on whose story was true. The other was a guy who interviewed and refused to make eye contact with me. I interviewed him with another person from the company. I’d ask a question, and he’d answer it, but only speak to the other person. It was very odd. We hired the first person – she self-combusted in about 5 months when it was clear she was going to do Y job regardless of what she was told. We didn’t hire the second person, due to all around weirdness.

    Reply
    1. Nallomy

      I interviewed for a PIRG summer job at the same age and got pretty much the same spin. I remember thinking at the time, “But I’m 19 and I’ve never done this…who would I be managing? 16-year-olds?” I also made it clear that I was only interested in the job in Location A (15 minutes from where I lived), but the recruiter was pretty firm about wanting me for Location B (45 minutes from where I lived), so ultimately that was what I cited when I declined the job.

      Reply
  46. Purest Green

    After I graduated from college and spent months in an unsuccessful job search, a friend told me about this local businessman who was looking for college students to help him on a project. He was kind of hesitant to suggest it to me but gave me the guy’s name and number anyway. My gut was telling me not to pursue this, but I was desperate. I “interviewed,” if that’s what you want to call it, in this businessman’s home, where he explained how I would be helping him develop some kind of theory from Jerry McGuire by acting as his “Napoleon’s idiot.” Sometime while this was going on, his Russian wife slipped into the room wearing nothing but a bathrobe and offered me some lentils. I only mention her nationality because he straight up told me she was a mail-order-bride.

    Perhaps it goes without saying, but I did not accept the job of being Napoleon’s idiot.

    Reply
    1. Delta Delta

      “wearing nothing but a bathrobe and offered me some lentils” might be the weirdest thing in a job interview story ever! It’s making me giggle.

      Reply
    2. Not Karen

      What on earth…

      This one time I found a job on craigslist and my mother freaked out because she thought the interview was going to be in the guy’s basement. No mother I don’t think the guy lives in a business park.

      Reply
    3. Bryce

      That’s a really odd way of putting it. The scientists I grew up around just said “sounding board,” and coworkers who had a knack for translating Science into English were highly appreciated.

      Reply
  47. EhWhyNot

    There was a recent role available at my workplace that would have been a promotion for me. They were forming a new team but they had not yet hired a team lead. All the management expected I would be applying because it was a salary level higher, but I did not. One, it felt odd to apply for a role where I didn’t know who I would be working for (I’m not that far in my career, but far enough that I know that being handed a mystery boss could make my life hell). Two, the business overall doesn’t interest me anymore and it didn’t feel right to just take a job for more money when I really don’t care for the work. Three, I’ve just really gotten to know the programs I manage now, so I would I turn my back on all that work and move on for a new “challenge.” Now is where I can really make changes and progress in my current work. It’s about integrity to me.

    Thanks to those choices I am even more respected by my boss and management all of a sudden has this vested interest in “making me happy.”

    My gut told me not to take the job. I can’t say I would have been totally unhappy with it and the pay increase, but I feel really good where I’m at for now.

    Reply
  48. Wing Girl

    I’m not sure if my gut was right or not, but at one point I was overwhelmed and overworked at a job and was job hunting. I accepted an offer with a new company, thinking the cut in pay and reduced benefits would be a fair trade-off for having a less stressful job. After I accepted the offer, the new manager mentioned a few key aspects of the position that hadn’t come up in the interview. Those aspects would most likely have led to working just as many hours as at the job I was trying to leave. My gut was telling me that the new job would wind up being “from the frying pan into the fire” and all for less money and benefits, so I rescinded my acceptance. Not sure if that was the right move or not, but from what I heard, the new company was never able to hire anyone to fill the position at the salary and benefits offered.

    Reply
    1. Bend & Snap

      I wish I’d done that. One of my first jobs was for a marketing associate position at a personal financial services firm, and they talked up all the marketing experience I’d get working there.

      My first day they introduced me to the switchboard and receptionist’s desk and I didn’t speak up, even though they’d never mentioned that was 85% of the job. The other 15% was placing ads in local newspapers.

      I stayed 6 miserable months.

      Reply
  49. Jackie Paper

    I had one job 12 years ago where I didn’t listen to my gut because I was desperate for a job. I ended up lasting for just under one day at that job.

    The owner of a wholesale lighting place in SF contacted me because he needed an assistant. I went down to meet him/interview and he had me immediately filling out new-hire paperwork. He also spent the whole time while I tried to fill out my paperwork talking very explicitly about his sex life (he was gay, so wasn’t hitting on me) and personal life, his last assistant and what an ungrateful brat he was, etc. He was from NY and had that sort of brusque, no-nonsense demeanor, but the feeling I got from the whole thing was that he was really lonely and just wanted someone to talk to (about completely inappropriate, un-work-related topics).

    I went for my first day and he showed me that he had to unlock the door between his showroom and the firm next door to allow me to use the bathroom. As someone who drinks a lot of water I knew that would be a problem. Then he started trying to train me on Peachtree software, but got upset and chastised me when I took a second to try to figure out the next step on my own. Then he left to get an hour and a half haircut, leaving me in the open showroom alone with absolutely no training or information about anything. People were coming in, looking around, and trying to ask me questions like, “can you tell me about this light fixture?” No! I know nothing about anything here! “How much does this cost?” I have absolutely no idea! I don’t even know when the person who does know will come back!

    It was a nightmare. Then he came back and got upset because I had had difficultly with the fax/copier that he hadn’t shown me how to use when he told me to fax something and then left for his haircut. I cried on the way home but honestly there was no way I would have gone back for a second day at that place …

    Reply
  50. peep

    Oh my holy yes. I was working a nice retail job that paid very little while searching for jobs in my field (not ideal, but I was extremely happy to be there, and it’s semi-related to my field). My mom kept pushing me to find something more high-paying but completely out of my field. She met a lady at our local Starbucks, who turned out to be the office manager of a local business. It turned out they needed office help, so my mom said I should apply, and I did reluctantly. They claimed they wanted to move really quickly, but it ended up taking like 4 months to finally start (and my gut was screaming the entire time, but…family pressure, and $$ pressure).

    They were SO disorganized, and the office environment was terrible for me — lots of shouting information back and forth, no instruction manuals, and lots of angry customers on the phone because they’d double book service appointments and the techs would avoid answering their phones (I would too, frankly…). I was always borrowing someone else’s desk since there wasn’t space for me, and the group of 5 office/customer service people shared a single email. No matter how many times I told them how to spell my first and last name, they got it wrong multiple ways. If they didn’t need me for the week, they’d tell me the night before which meant I couldn’t offer to pick up extra hours at my retail job (but I was SO relieved not to be there!!).

    Finally after 3 months of office terror, I was able to help them migrate their info to a new database and work on data entry and not touch the phones or talk to customers. So much relief, but the work was mindnumbing. Thankfully I was able to escape after 7 months into something in my field! I still am on call at the retail place, which makes me happy. I think my mom realizes what a mistake she made, so I’m hoping she won’t recommend stuff like that anymore…. I will ALWAYS follow -my- gut from now on.

    Reply
  51. Hey Karma, Over here.

    My first post college job…I’d been temping. One of the places I worked wanted me full time, to do something I had no 1) training; 2) natural ability; or 3) interest. Imagine if you’d studied graphic design in school and someone called asking you to do computer coding. “You’re such hard worker. You’ll be great.”
    Should have said no. I didn’t.
    I went for my first day. I was being trained for the week by the woman currently in the position.
    Me: “oh, where are you going?”
    Employee: “the beach.”
    Me: “oh, cool.”
    Then I find out that she would be going on vacation the next week. She didn’t know that I would be taking her job when she got back. And still I stayed.
    She came back from her trip. They still hadn’t told her. And I still stayed.
    So week three AND four we worked together. And I still stayed. She didn’t quit either.
    Lasted another week. I made it a year.
    Just say no, people.

    Reply
  52. Anon Accountant

    Yes. I had a horrible feeling from when I interviewed and kept having a nagging feeling to turn down the job. I was unemployed and needed a job ASAP. Against my better judgment I accepted the job and started searching again within the first month.

    The secretary screamed at people, including clients, bullied staff, she’d bullied staff until they quit without other jobs. 1 coworker would show up 2-3 hours late consistently and without any reason why. He would stream TV shows loudly on his computer all day. His favorites seemed to be CSI and Law & Order. He did almost no work so you had to pick up his work along with yours.

    I should’ve looked at my workspace before starting there. For 3 of us our “desks” were 2 small filing cabinets with a block of wood laid across them. The boss/firm owner insisted staff do unethical tax and accounting practices to reduce taxes his clients owed. He would become belligerent for months afterwards when you refused.

    Biggest lesson learned is save up a large emergency fund so quitting a bad job or holding out for a better job is an option. Plus listening to your gut.

    Reply
    1. Anon Accountant

      I should’ve done more due diligence on him because he had disciplinary action taken against his CPA license and nearly had it revoked.

      Always will trust my gut in the future.

      Reply
  53. Student

    I had a bad gut feeling when my prospective boss pretty much blew off my job interview. We have day-long interviews with multiple panels, a presentation, and one-on-ones in my industry. My boss showed up to an initial one-on-one, but asked me no questions and basically made small talk for as short as he could get away with, then dashed off. He didn’t show for my presentation, didn’t show for his panel, and barely said goodbye to me as I headed out the door. Everyone else involved in interviewing me were thoughtful and normal. I thought for sure that it meant I’d blown the interview, but then they hired me.

    I figured that meh, maybe he was new at interviewing (I was his first staff), maybe he wouldn’t end up as my final boss, or it couldn’t be that bad if he’d decided to hire me. After all, everyone else I interviewed was great, and the work was great.

    Worst job decision I have ever made. Dude ignored me for two years – couldn’t bother meeting with me once a quarter, barely responded to emails, never showed to meetings. He pushed off projects he hated onto me (and then vanished into the aether). As if that wasn’t bad enough, there’s a cherry: unbeknownst to me for years, he scapegoated me with higher-ups the whole time, whenever anything went wrong with his projects. When I finally moved from working under him to being his peer, I got the nasty surprise of finding out he’d made my name mud with everyone important in my org. I’m trying to repair the damage and consider getting a new job every single day.

    Reply
  54. NoMoreMrFixit

    Had this more than once. Turned down a job as I got the feeling they wanted a clone of the person who had departed for greener pastures. Turned out I was right as job got relisted a few times over the next couple years. Turned down another job as gut screamed at me to run away. 3 years later the company was embroiled in a financial fraud case involving local government. Last time I had a bad feeling I did something stupid. Hated my current job so much that I ignored my gut and took the new position. Ended up being the worst place I’ve ever worked and I ended up changing careers by the end of it.

    Reply
  55. Magenta Sky

    I find that my instincts are rarely wrong when I meet someone new. People rarely surprise me. One place I worked, the owner seemed rather weird, but nice when he interviewed me. And he was. He had a fetish for my first name – it was his ex-wife’s name, it was his son’s name, it was his girlfriend’s name, it was his lawyer’s name. It rhymed with his name. But he paid well until the economy tanked.

    The guy who fired me for taking a lunch, the day after he chewed me out for not taking a lunch, was a jerk from the moment I first met him. I think I lasted two weeks.

    My current job, the guy who hired me (an assistant manager) was kind of weird and a little off putting, but the rest of the company seems good. That was nearly 25 years ago, and the AM is long, long gone, and I’m still here.

    The only time my instincts ever completely failed me was not job related. I knew a real estate agent a little bit, who seemed like a decent guy and a polished pro at what he did. He got into commercial investment properties (apartment complexes, mostly) and convinced a number of friends and family to invest. It turned out to be a giant Ponzi scheme (with a younger woman involved), and when he gets out of prison later this month, he’ll have several million dollars in restitution hanging over his head. But I had no clue (and, fortunately, no inclination to invest in rental property).

    Reply
    1. Agnes

      I find the reverse. Many people I thought would be a great friend turned out not to be that interesting, and good friends I got to know later I wasn’t particularly interested in to start. I guess I’m easily blinded by charm.

      Reply
      1. Kelly L.

        I’ve learned that if my gut says No, it’s probably right, but if my gut says Yes, I need to think further–it might be right and it might be wrong. There’s one type of asshole I can suss out pretty quick, and another type that has enough charm to get past my initial filter, I think.

        Reply
  56. Blue Anne

    I had a gut feeling not to take a job, but took it anyway. I walked off without another job lined up three months later.

    It was a family business, which was deliberately concealed in the interviews. The president and sales director were married.
    They regularly lied to clients, sold them substandard merchandise, and told me to lie to clients as well.
    They paid the salespeople tiny commissions and encouraged them to “tip” the warehouse manager out of their paychecks, instead of giving the warehouse manager a raise.
    The sales director talked insultingly about clients (referred to a black client as “from the ghetto”), encouraged the salespeople to think about making a sale as convincing a hot girl to sleep with them, and would regularly walk away while people were talking to him.
    The president asked me to falsify invoices to avoid customs charges and told me it “isn’t a big deal, it’s a big gray area, we do this regularly” when I objected. She just had someone else do it instead.
    When clients told us to delete credit card info, we didn’t. We kept it all on file in case they paid a bill late, in which case we would immediately process tons of charges to all their cards until we could get as much of the outstanding bill as possible.
    They treated the marketing director like a personal assistant and dogsbody, even asking him to unclog the toilet.
    The handle broke off the toilet in the women’s bathroom and they “fixed” it by having the warehouse manager tied a piece of string to the thing inside the cistern. It was damp and gross. That was the “fix” for about a month.
    The sales director tried to sell me his extra car when he heard I was looking for one. He said I should be able to afford a payment of about $600 a month since I didn’t have student loans and wouldn’t it be great to avoid financing a car. (I bought a car outright for $2500.)
    I was the accounts receivable manager. I designed the layout for and ordered all the shelving for our new warehouse. Because reasons?
    When I said I was quitting, the sales director pulled me into a THREE HOUR meeting in which he tried to justify all their crappy behavior, guilt tripped and manipulated me, made like he knew me so well and we were on the same side, anything blatantly illegal they do is fine because they’re selling a “health product” that’s good for the world, people like us don’t want standard jobs at big companies, etc.

    Also I just realized I have a $200 tax bill because they weren’t withholding my municipal tax. Should have listened to my gut.

    Reply
    1. Gadfly

      If they are still in business, keeping cards on file is a BIG nono. If they are not kept just perfectly right/secure and with explicit permission to keep them, there is a regulatory body that charges tens of thousands of dollars in fines for each violation and/or prevents them from running cards…

      If you are feeling vindictive, you just need to report it to a credit card company–call the number on the back of any credit card and ask them about reporting pci dss violations.

      Reply
      1. Blue Anne

        Yeah, I’m tempted. There are a lot of laws they’re breaking. I might report them now that I’m done with tax season.

        Reply
  57. The Optimizer

    I interviewed a guy once that seemed like a good fit for the job – had the right (verified) experience and skills, or at least he said he did. He was well-spoken and said he was eager to work the hours we needed him for despite the two hour time difference between our office and his home. It was explained that we needed to bring him on to add to staff but it was especially important that he be available to cover beginning on X date when a key current employee was scheduled for surgery and expected to be out for 2-4 weeks and he said it would not be a problem. All the while, my BS detector was going off. My boss also interviewed him as well and thought we should hire him, so we did.
    He was difficult, to say the least. While he had worked in a closely related industry, he had apparently retained no knowledge of it because the most basic terminology and processes had to be explained. He had none of the technical skills he said were “easy enough” and he managed put our company at great risk for losing our largest and most important account because he could not follow simple instructions. He made mistakes continuously and then said he could not work the week of the surgery because he had jury duty, which was actually training for another part time job. On the day he was scheduled to come back he didn’t show despite confirming less than 12 hours prior that he would. Instead, he demanded more hours & money. When told he wasn’t meeting standards and that wasn’t going to happen unless he improved, he came back only to be fired less than 2 weeks later for making even more errors.
    I knew in my gut that this guy was not who/what he said he was and I was right.

    Reply
  58. Karen D

    I guess it’s my go-against-the-flow week at AAM … I had one case where my gut was yelling “no no no no no” and I went anyway because frankly, I was miffed.

    New Company contacted me about a position they were anxious to fill; at the time, I was working at a job that was HUGELY underpaid for the work I was doing, and had the wrong title attached. I knew very little about New Company (and some of it was bad) when they reached out to me. I didn’t really intend to go to work for them – but I wanted ammo for my bid to get the better title and/or more money at Old Company. The management at Old Company shut me down cold, so I said “fine then I quit” and called New Company and accepted the job. (If you notice me not mentioning any kind of interview process or anything – it’s because there wasn’t one. They offered me the job pretty much in the initial recruiting phone call.)

    During the notice period, doubts set in bigtime; I basically heard non-stop “you are making a mistake” from that little voice in my head. I am so glad my wounded pride didn’t allow me to listen to it, because I really landed in the clover at New Company. I was rapidly promoted and given fun, challenging work to do.

    Reply
    1. Karen D

      But I can offer one countervailing story from the other side: We recently had to hire a new caregiver from my mom. It came down to two choices. One, “Missy,” had a thick stack of professional certifications, glowing letters of reference, wowed other family members in interviews, charmed my mom and lived very close by. The other, “Fern,” had a few reference letters and the bare minimum of certifications, was rather shy in interviews and lived a good distance away.

      Despite all that, my gut said “go with Fern.” Talking to the other family member who was a key decision-maker, I finally realized she was feeling the same way – both of us were just drawn to Fern and something about Missy turned us off.

      Well, Fern has been amazing; she’s endlessly patient, cheerful and is doing all kinds of cool things with mom, including art therapy. Her biggest “flaw” is that she cooks too much food and we sometimes have to nobly sacrifice and eat it ourselves :) .

      Meanwhile, Missy went Psycho McNutsypants when she didn’t get the job. The idea that she would have been alone with my mom – who can be a real pill when she wants to – gives me chills now.

      Reply
      1. SophieChotek

        I’m glad it turned out! Trusting the care of a loved on to someone else is such a monumental decision.

        Reply
        1. Karen D

          Yep. Before we’d always gone through an agency, but this time we decided to strike out on our own. Big Scary.

          All the documents were shared among our (very large) family, and every other family member was like “well, clearly it’s Missy, there’s just no contest.” But the two of us who had actually interviewed both candidates were quietly touching antenna, and were kind of surprised to realize we’d had the exact same reactions.

          Reply
  59. Episkey

    Yes. I mentioned this as a comment on the letter where the LW wanted to walk out of a job on his first day. I started a job (where there had been obvious red flags in the interview process that I know now, but was too young & naive to recognize then) and knew almost immediately — first or second day — that I was going to hate it. I didn’t listen to my gut, but sincerely wished I had.

    I had been laid off in a corporate reshuffling a few months prior and was still on unemployment benefits from that job. If I had walked out and never come back after the 2nd day, I could have kept my benefits with no one being the wiser. Because I didn’t listen, I lost my UE benefits, ended up in a miserable & toxic job, and did some serious damage to my marriage because I became so depressed and unhappy (luckily, we’re fine now, probably even better than we were before).

    Reply
  60. Venus Supreme

    A few years ago I was a brand-new college graduate working full-time at an unpaid internship. InternshipBoss at the time really helped me refine my resume, cover letter, and interview skills and I made the goal for myself that I should be hired for a real job before my internship ended. I had applied for a job in a city I loved that was six hours away from home. I went through three phone/Skype interviews and got a formal job offer within two weeks. Everyone was so nice during the interviews, I had an easy time conversing with them, and InternshipBoss told me she had a “good feeling” about me working in that city, but my gut was telling me otherwise. I remember taking a LONG walk to process if I should take the job or not. I was so desperate for a job, I’d be working in a city I love to visit, I’d be working for a cause I love, and I’m young enough I could take this job without uprooting a lot of my life. Something was telling not to go, though. I remember that it started raining on my walk and I just looked up at the sky and finally made the decision I wouldn’t take the job. That sounded really scary to say when I was in a hostile situation at home and felt the pressure to get out.

    Turns out I was right and should’ve stayed home. We had two earth-shattering family crises that required me to stay near everyone. Now I’m in a good job in my field that’s close enough to home to visit, but far enough that I have my own place. On top of that, the Glassdoor reviews of the other company were terrible, with scathing reviews written as recently as January 2017.

    Reply
  61. Cautionary tail

    After two interviews to be a manager in a company eight hours away and getting a very good salary offer, I wrote up a list of pros and cons about the new job. The cons far outweighed the pros and I declined. Part of those cons was that my first job tesponsibility would be to fire everyone on my team and then build commraderie with a new team that I was to hire. So this was not so much of trusting a gut intinct as it was being hit over the head with the bad news. It turns out I was the second person in a row to decline the position. Then that division foldef three years later. Bullet dodged.

    Reply
  62. Saturnalia

    When my partner and I went to an onsite interview (his interview; I was invited along to explore a potential relocation city) on the other side of the country, I was somewhat flattered that the CEO wanted to interview me as well. Then when he mentioned some of the things he’d like me to work on, I was pretty excited and very flattered to be considered for a huge step up like that. But, having worked for the same company as my partner for 5+ years, I also really liked the idea of *not* working at the same place and having a bit of work/relationship separation. Also the CEO had a few personality & communication quirks that sent up yellow flags for me. I didn’t shut down the possibility, but I put in a buffer of delay – basically told him I’d love to talk more once our relocation was completed. Partner took the job (I really love the new city!)

    Fast forward to today, mid-relocation, partner working 80+ hour weeks, all those communication quirks are out in full force making his job difficult. He is okay with the job, sees this all as temporary stress… And I am so very glad I delayed working there, because what he is taking in stride right now would have me breaking down daily. Even though leading a product redesign would be great fun and good for my resume, in that environment it would probably kill my desire to ever work in software again. Good job, gut!

    Reply
  63. SimonTheGreyWarden

    Positive: I had finished my MA coursework but didn’t know what direction to go, it was the middle of the recession, and the position I had initially entered the MA in order to get never materialized. On a whim, a family friend asked for my resume and said she thought I could do adjuncting (I was working retail). She passed it on to her dean who met with me once for what I thought was an interview. The dean showed up with the textbooks for the class and a schedule for me. I had no idea what I was doing but my gut told me to go for it, so I did. Still teaching. Obviously adjuncting isn’t bliss, but I have a tutoring job I really like and I met my husband through the community college where I was hired.

    Negative: That MA coursework? About two semesters into my three-years, I began to realize I no longer believed in what the MA was about, which was a big deal because it was a field where you had to have passion/conviction. I also began to realize that the group who would be responsible for hiring me and who had told me I needed the MA to be paid to do the work I was volunteering for had no intention of actually making the job paid. I thought about dropping that program as it had very, very limited applications but was halfway in. My gut told me I didn’t want to do that work, but I persevered. My gut was right; I’ve never gone into that field and have no wish to.

    Reply
  64. Ann Furthermore

    I always listen to my gut, since early in my career. I graduated from college and got a job as a staff accountant at an oil and gas company. After 3 years, they were bought out by another oil company, and the corporate headquarters were moved to San Antonio. They expressed some interest in me relocating, but I found out I’d have to pay my own moving expenses, plus, every single person I met from the parent company was a sad, miserable person that absolutely hated their job. It didn’t take my gut to tell me that would be a terrible move.

    I was recommended for another job through the friend of a friend for an accounting manager position at a much smaller company. My gut was telling me that it was not the right position for me, but the salary they offered me was almost 50% more than what I was currently making, and I was blinded by that. I figured I could put up with anything for that much money.

    I was wrong. For many reasons, it was just not the right fit, one of them being that I was just not mature enough or ready to be a manager. In addition, soon after I started there, the company was acquired, and the owner, who had hired me, took his nice buyout package of a few million dollars and retired — and who could blame him? The 2 other guys in charge of the operations side took over, and I didn’t get along with them. At all. We just had completely different approaches to how things should be done. Like, they had all of the service guys there by 7AM, so they could get their assignments for the day and get out to customer sites. So it was really important for them to be there on time. My staff and I worked in the office, so it wasn’t so critical to be there right at the stroke of 7 AM. One of these a-holes told me I should be writing people up (including myself) for being late, and said, “Doesn’t matter if it’s 7:01 or 8:01, late is late.” He griped about one woman on my team who did have some punctuality issues, but I cut her a little slack because she was a single mother with 5 kids, so yeah, she was late now and then, or needed to have her kid come to work with her for a few hours sometimes, and her kids were very well behaved and would sit there and read, or play Minesweeper on an open computer. No, according to him, she was a slacker that I should have fired. This from a guy whose wife had always stayed at home with their kids, and took care of getting them all up and ready for school, dropped off, and so on. so he had no clue what an accomplishment it is to get everyone where they’re supposed to be on time every day. Ugh, he was such an ass. The other guy was not much better, and would stop by my office each day to tell me some sort of really vulgar and offensive joke. I can appreciate pretty raunchy humor, and I’m not a person who gets offended by f-bombs and other swear words in the office, and these jokes were even too gross for me. I finally asked him why he thought I’d think those jokes were funny, and he mumbled something about not being very good at talking to women. So I told him that before opening his mouth, to ask himself if he’d like someone saying whatever he was going to say to his wife, sister, daughter, or mother, and if so, then to zip it.

    Anyway — a few months after the acquisition, there was another one, which meant there were suddenly 2 accounting managers when only 1 was needed. They seized their opportunity and kicked me to the curb — and I was glad to get the boot. I’d realized early on I’d made a mistake in taking that job, and I’d decided to stick it out for a year, since I’d been referred by a colleague and I didn’t want anything to reflect badly on her.

    That one a-hole I didn’t get along with had the gall to call me the next week and ask how to use a pretty complex Excel file I’d been designing to do the monthly financial statements. I told him my consulting fee started at $200 per hour, and when I got a $1000 retainer I’d be glad to answer all the questions he wanted to ask me. That was the last time I heard from them.

    And ever since then, I’ve always listened to my gut when making career decisions. It’s never steered me wrong.

    Reply
    1. Purest Green

      Good grief! I believe you when you say you weren’t ready to be a manager, but it doesn’t sound like you were the one with a problem.

      Reply
  65. Chickaletta

    I have totally bad spidey-sense. A couple times I thought a job was going to be perfect and they ended up, well, less-so.

    One was where during the interview I really liked the people, I thought it was going to be a fun place to work. Turned out to be a contentious place where they would get into heated political debates, and one of my coworkers was the type of person who was always looking for a fight; she became the only coworker I ever got into a real argument with (although I regret my actions, she did get into a fist fight over a parking space with someone else, and also got kicked off her roller derby team for being too mean – that’s how hard she was to get along with) . I had two managers at that job – one was cold and the other was a nepotism hire who was barely in the office.

    At another job, at a small company, I thought the owner/boss really knew what he was doing and was going to be easy to get along with. We had good raport in the interview. But once I started working there he became hard to read and his wife was always bossing us around even though he never mentioned her once during the interviews or said anything to me about her once I started, she literally just showed up and started telling me what to do. It was an electrical company but he ignored a lot of safety regulations, he couldn’t manage the cash flow of the business, and I was let go only three months into the job because he didn’t have the money to pay me anymore.

    I’ve been freelancing for several years, but I just accepted a new job and will be going back to work in a couple weeks. With my bad track-record, I decided not to work for small companies any more. My new job is with a large employer with a proper HR department and plenty of room to change departments or move up. My manger has a manager, who has a manager. I asked questions during the interview that Alison suggests throughout her blog and her book. And most of all I’m taking a pragmatic approach and listentening less to my gut – because even though a part of me isn’t excited about this job, on paper it looks good and it checks the boxes. Here’s to hoping it works out.

    Reply
  66. Parenthetically

    I was young and insecure and needed the money, so I didn’t listen to my gut when the woman who was interviewing me to nanny her kids described their situation (both parents worked more than full time, oldest child was “homeschooled,” middle was in public school, youngest was preschool aged but not toilet trained), my responsibilities (to care full-time for the youngest, manage homework and school things for the middle, and oversee tutoring for eldest), my authority (none; I wasn’t allowed to tell the kids to do anything, only to ask), my title (“babysitter, NOT nanny; we don’t want our kids to get confused about who is in charge in our house”), or my pay ($8/hour to start, no reimbursement for gas or mileage or the food I picked up for the kids while we were out at lunchtime).

    Yeah. Listen to your gut, folks.

    Reply
      1. Parenthetically

        Probably lots of things about that job were at the very least extremely unethical, including the fact that the daughter primarily “homeschooled” in the patient waiting area of her mother’s psychiatry office, right outside the door of the room where her mother met with her patients.

        Reply
  67. Going Anon

    I had an interview at an internationally recognized cultural institution. I was so excited and thrilled to be considered, that I ignored a million tiny things that should have set off every alarm bell there was. Still, at the end of the interview, I commented to my boyfriend how I thought the experience had been really strange and rather off putting. He told me I should trust my gut. Well, I didn’t get the job, but I later realized how lucky I was to have been not choosen. They went through two people in that job in the course of less than two years. And trust me, this is in a field where that sort of turn over is completely abnormal.

    Reply
  68. CaliCali

    I had an experience where I had a weird gut feel about a place. I had interviewed, everything about the job seemed ideal – a bump in pay, easier commute, better position. I couldn’t shake that something was off about it.

    It turned out that I was half right. The “off” feeling was because the workplace employed a lot of very devout Christians, and I was coming from a workplace of fun-loving heathens. Lots of people who homeschooled and such. BUT it’s where I’ve been for 2.5 years now and it’s a much, much healthier environment — they treat people fairly, recognize their accomplishments, place high importance on work-life balance, pay well, and it’s been a net positive overall. The toxicity of my “fun” workplace previous had warped my perceptions a bit too much, and I was weirded out by things that, while not really part of my lifestyle, also weren’t entirely related to work.

    I place a lot of importance on my gut, but also, if you’re coming from a toxic environment, recognize that your gut may not be entirely reliable, considering it’s become accustomed to a very bad diet.

    Reply
    1. Lucy

      Your last line is on point! I am worried I might be in that position but I am cautiously navigating my future right now with the help of a lot of experienced friends.

      Reply
  69. AnonToday

    Some years ago, I interviewed for what was advertised as a legal research/assistant job with an elected official (state level). My hink detector went off when I got a call for the interview, yet had never actually applied for the job. It turned out the official had a friend who owned a business, and had an account on Monster.com and had harvested a bunch of resumes for the official to use for the search. I ignored the “um….” voice in my head, because I was unemployed, and went on the interview anyways.

    The interview was very, very odd. He mentioned the job would be split time-wise 50/50 between the city where his district was and the state capital (which is about 5 hours away), despite the fact that these positions are almost always based 100% in the state capital, and the legislature sure is not in session in this state half of the time. But no worries, I could travel WITH him, but it’s cool, I’d pay for my own accommodations. Or not, whatever I preferred. He wasn’t interested in my experience, more interested in what I liked to do in my free time. I chalked up part of his confusion to him being in his first term, but still felt icky.

    Never got a call back, but a few years later, I was not at ALL surprised to see that he was embroiled in a massive harassment suit against….his former female staffers, all of whom he’d apparently sexually harassed.

    Reply
  70. LAP

    I’ve had a decent amount of success listening to my gut when it comes to job searching. One good example happened a few years ago when I was just beginning my graphic design career. I had a job interview that, in retrospect, was full of red flags.

    1. The art director was about 45 minutes late, not only that but for the last 10 minutes or so of that time I could see him through a glass paned door casually laughing and chatting with random employees.

    2. He spent about half of the interview talking up himself and awards he had won.

    3. The team I would be joining apparently consisted of the owner’s 16 year old niece and a guy who had no design training, just a little knowledge of the software.

    4. The final straw was when he decided I needed to perform a trial project on a freelance basis. Fine, but when I quoted him what I thought was a fair amount (I think around $15/hour) He lectured me on how greedy and ignorant I was and how I’d never find work with my attitude.

    I didn’t get that job and I don’t know what happened with that company, but I don’t really care because since then I haven’t been paid less than what he said I’d never make.

    Reply
  71. Lily Evans

    I’ve always had weirdly strong gut feelings regarding a lot of major life advents. During my job search immediately after college I applied to tons of jobs, but there was one that I applied to that right after I sent in the application I just had a feeling I’d get it (a feeling I’d never have admitted to if I’d been wrong). I was right about that one, even though it didn’t work out long term (I really hated the town I’d relocated to for it, in the end) it was definitely a good move for me at that time. I also had weirdly negative gut feelings about a couple of my superiors there, for seemingly no reason at the time, but it turns out those were spot on too according to a friend who stayed there after I’d left.

    My job I have now wasn’t quite as immediate of a reaction, but as I was walking back to my car after the interview I had a really strong feeling that that was where I was meant to be, which is something I hadn’t had after other interviews. I was really gutted when I didn’t get the job I’d originally interviewed for here, but they had a second position open that they encouraged me to apply for, and that’s the role I have now! It even worked out better, which I know now that I can compare things like the working hours and which coworkers each position works most closely with. My gut feeling generally works for apartment hunting and dating too! It never works out when the positive feeling’s not there.

    Reply
  72. Aphrodite

    I have worked at my college for quite a few years but when the department I was in closed and I was transferred to the same position in another department I couldn’t take it. The office would have been underground and I have a phobia about being trapped. So I was put on Leave of Absence. My vacation time was used, then sick time so I had about three plus months. About a month and a half into it a new position was opened in another department. I was excited and went to meet the supervisor.

    I have never had an experience like this, but when I pulled into the lot space and prepared to wait–I was about a half-hour early because I wanted to ensure I had a parking space and time to spare–I was overwhelmed with a feeling of total dread and sickness. Literally overwhelmed. I tried to calm myself but no matter what I did I couldn’t shake that feeling. It was stronger than anything I had ever felt about anything.

    Not surprisingly, it turned out to be for a reason. My body was screaming that this was all wrong, and it was. The supervisor was the worst, treating me nastily in the interview. I accepted the job but the next day she called HR and declined to have me. While I was still scared of being unemployed I was thankful I was rejected because I didn’t have to take the job. There have been other “gut” times but this was, by far, the most dramatic. (Not surprisingly, there has been turnover in that position.)

    Reply
  73. NotTheSecretary

    I failed to listen to my gut once and have since gotten much wiser.

    I took a job completely outside of my interests and skill set simply because it was an office job and I had graduated into the recession. The fact that they were so eager to have me start that they insisted I couldn’t give my then current job notice should have been a hint. The interview was scheduled at a different office from the one I would be working at because the person I would be replacing didn’t know yet that she was fired (which ended up being a terrible omen fie how my own tenure there would end). The manager who hired me was vocally on his way out when I started and the manager above him gleefully informed us that the new manager would “whip us into shape”. New manager did so with constant threats, yelling, and a habit of making impossible promises to our clients that we (the staff) were held accountable for.

    New Manager caught me job searching and begged me to stay by giving me a raise. Really, that should have been a signal to me to double my efforts.

    All in all, I lasted about a year there before I was so broken that New Manager fired me. I left with a drinking problem and some serious mental health issues that took years to work through.

    Listen to your gut, people! It wants what’s best for you!

    Reply
  74. SKA

    I had the opposite in that I took a job that could have potentially looked sketchy, but turned out great.

    I was getting ready to graduate college, and accepted a role at a brand new company (and signed a year lease on an apartment) in a middle-of-nowhere town where I didn’t know anyone. The interview was at a coffeeshop because the offices weren’t ready yet (I still hadn’t seen proof they existed when I accepted the job). I would be the sole employee to start off. My boss, the company owner, was in his early 30s and hadn’t ever run a company before.

    It turned out terrific, and I was there for about 6 years (and when I left there were 6 employees). To be honest, I never picked up on any potential sketchiness, and was naive enough to not even think about the fact that new companies rarely last very long. At one point my mom mentioned how worried she was about me taking the job (told to me years later, she didn’t say anything like that at the time I was starting), and it took me a second to realize why should would have been worried at all.

    Reply
  75. Ann O'Nemity

    I made a mistake with the last person I hired.

    Bob seemed too good to be true on paper and was recommended by a well-respected colleague. I had a “not great” gut feeling after the second interview, thinking Bob was a little too over confident and a little too casual. But both of these were small concerns in the grand scheme, right? I mean, the rest of the team loved him and he was the best qualified for the position. So I hired him annnnd… Bob has turned out to be a sloppy know-it-all.

    Reply
  76. Bend & Snap

    For my current job, I really wanted to work at this company but was being aggressively pursued by another company that fell into the “coopetition” category.

    Other company seemed like a sweatshop, they threw a surprise new direct manager at me post offer (she said things like, “I don’t expect my employees to go off and do things on their own” and “I’m not afraid to get down in the weeds with you), and one of the “perks” was you could go home at 7 and finish from there. It sounded like a sweatshop.

    They offered me more stock, more money and comparable benefits to my current company but I couldn’t make myself take the job. I’m still pretty happy in my current company several years later.

    Reply
  77. Gen

    I was already doing a bar tending job when we had a manager change. The new manager made my hair stand on end, really creepy. He kept trying to fit in with certain clientele by wearing too-tight leather trousers. I wish I’d quit, I was too uncomfortable to be in the bar alone with him and bribed friends to hang out when I had to work. Busiest day of the year the police turned up. He was more-than-naked in the office upstairs deliberately flashing the residents of the neighbouring building

    Reply
  78. Anonymous Educator

    I won’t say my gut ever paid off, because I’ve never turned down a job offer. For some reason, I never have trouble finding a job, but I do have trouble finding more than one job during any given job search.

    I did have a couple of “dodged that bullet” scenarios in which I had gut feelings the places were toxic (which got confirmed later by people I know who ended up working in those places), but I didn’t end up getting the job anyway.

    Unfortunately, I did have one job I had a bad gut feeling about that I ended up having to take… and it was a lot worse than I’d ever imagined it would be. Fortunately, I was able to leave that place pretty quickly.

    Reply
  79. Uhdrea

    When I took my first professional job out of college, I accepted because working in a coffee shop wasn’t paying for those student loans and as the first one of my family to go the high school –> college route, there was a lot of pressure on me to succeed. I had a niggling feeling throughout the entire process that there was something up, but it was a nonprofit, so I figured lower pay, slightly idiosyncratic work environment was pretty par for the course.

    It turned out to be a complete nightmare. Expectations of twelve hour days, co-dependent and incestuous staff, a horrifying mandatory week long ski vacation for a staff pulling in less than $25k a year, and a micromanaging manager.

    It took six months before I broke down sobbing in my office and quit. I will never again ignore a niggling feeling.

    Reply
    1. Lucy

      “incestuous staff”

      You can’t say that and then not elaborate! Unless of course, elaborating is traumatizing for you. Then carry on.

      But seriously, I am stunned.

      Reply
  80. RussianTea14

    A few years ago, I interviewed for a position at a bank. I interviewed with a couple of the higher ups, one of which asked me a lot of inappropriate questions that had nothing to do with the job I was interviewing for. I had a bad feeling about the expectations for the role, as well as the ethics of some of the management.

    I sent an email to HR, formally withdrawing myself from the hiring process. The higher up sent me a separare email, telling me how disappointed he was in me and how I was blowing a great opportunity, blah blah. It was pretty over the top and reaffirmed my decision not to work there.

    A few months later, I read that the bank was being investigated by the federal government for some shady business practices. Yikes.

    Reply
  81. Arduino

    Not work but … There was a guy everyone thought was super nice. I always felt really uncomfortable around him and refused to be alone with him ever. Whenever I voiced these concerns people always got on to me “what? Him? How could you feel that way he is so nice”

    Turns out he was a seriel killer and had several people chopped up and buried in his back yard.

    I was 14 when we found out so I have trustedy gut sense then.

    Reply
  82. Kyrielle

    I can’t really say I have. I had one interview where all the surface information told me I very much wanted that job – and my gut told me to back away slowly and not take it.

    But they didn’t offer it to me, and I have no idea what it would actually have been like. (On the other hand, that ‘get out of here’ vibe made it very easy to not get upset when they sent the rejection.)

    Reply
  83. Amber Rose

    This was my last job. It came with a pretty big pay increase, and I ended up listening to my wallet instead of my gut. The owner seemed like a bit of a “dirty old man” type who made a crack about my physical fitness, but the office manager actually told him off on the spot about that and it was her I would be working for, so I shrugged off my other apprehensions and took the offer when it came.

    Turns out, I wasn’t working for the office manager. Or at least, not really. She spent a week training me, and was pretty great, and then I was given an unrelated job and started reporting to the owner.

    At no point was any request I made treated as reasonable. I once asked for maybe some file holders to organize my papers and there was a looong awkward pause followed by an offer of some old metal bins that were in the garage. I later asked for a pencil sharpener. I was begrudgingly handed one of those old school type ones that bolt to the desk and you turn the handle (where did they even get this?), even though it was unusable because I had no desk to bolt it to. I was working on a small table that I had to share.

    I stuck it out two years and escaped after the owner died tragically in a plane crash. Does it sound like i’m making this up? It sounds to me like i’m making it up and I LIVED it.

    Reply
  84. IT Director

    I failed to follow my gut instinct, but it ultimately ended up OK.

    I was recruited by a headhunter for a role as Director of IT for a small, privately-held insurance company–I was about 5-6 years away from being considered for similar roles in my then-employer, so I went through the interview process. During the second interview, with the CEO, he was seated in a way that he could see out through a conference room window into the (internal) hallway. As I was presenting my 90-day plan for the role, he was visibly craning his neck to look out the window–at least three times during a 90-minute interview.

    His tone when I asked a few questions (and made a couple small, incorrect assumptions about the firm’s business model) was also a bit “snotty,” and I wrote it off to what the headhunter had told me about him, namely, that he was a tad brusque.

    The combination of the seniority and influence of the role, along with a very good compensation package, convinced me to leave a 16-year career with my former employer. Five months later, I was made the scapegoat for a ransomware attack that significantly affected the organization, just as a major economic downturn gripped our local economy.

    However, as a result, I saw a posting for a post-secondary teaching role that I wouldn’t have taken from my former salary level…and I love it! In short, listening to my gut in the future, but happy with the lucky break I caught!

    Reply
  85. Hermione Lovegood

    I shared my story in the comments on the previous post, so I’m just copying and pasting. :)

    I learned about 9 years ago that listening to your gut is almost always the right move. I was losing my job at a major pharmaceutical company. I interviewed at another pharma company in a city about 2.5 hours away. The new company offered me a $5000 raise and was going to help me sell my house in current city and give me a housing stipend until I could purchase a new home. But I just felt off about the interviews and tours of the facility, so I turned down the position. Less than 2 years later, new company was put under a seizure order by the US Marshals and subsequently went under. All that to say, LISTEN TO YOUR INTUITION!!

    Reply
  86. Seal

    A little over a year ago I applied for a job that thought I desperately wanted. It was actually at a place I where I had worked for previously for many years, but left over a decade ago; several people I still know from there encouraged me to apply. Aside from the fact that it would have been a good job, it was an opportunity to move back home to be closer to family, especially my aging mother. So I applied and assumed both because I have done well professionally in what is a very small niche in my profession over the past decade or so and the fact that I had worked there before as a highly-regarded staff member I would at least get a courtesy phone interview.

    About a month and a half after I applied, I suddenly became very depressed over the course of a weekend. While I’m prone to depression in general, I’ve never had anything like this happen before. I was so depressed and full of dread that I literally couldn’t get out of bed and even wound up taking a few days off of work. I had this absolutely overwhelming sense that I wasn’t going to get an interview. Very odd, because I’ve applied for a number of jobs in recent years and never experienced anything like this. Plus regardless of how badly I want it, it was just a job. It would have been great to get even an interview, but it certainly wasn’t a life or death situation.

    A few weeks later, I found out that interviews had been scheduled and I didn’t get one; I was upset and disappointed but really not surprised. Ultimately, they wound up hiring someone a year or so removed from college with few qualifications for a middle management position that generally requires many years of experience. I was later told by a former colleague that they didn’t actually want someone who could do the job but instead someone they could control and manipulate; the search committee even went so far as to fudge her qualifications so HR would approve her hiring over far more qualified candidates. My colleague was hugely disgusted by the whole thing and told me that I had dodged a huge bullet.

    Interestingly, my depression episode more or less coincided with when the search committee made their decision as to who they wanted to interview. I doubt it was a coincidence because there was nothing else going on in my life at the time that would have brought on something like that. Perhaps it was some sort of cosmic connection to an organization I had spend most of my life working for until I left for a better job years ago. Perhaps the universe was trying to tell me I’d be miserable if I got the job. Who knows? But it was definitely a sign of some sort.

    Reply
  87. Mallory Janis Ian

    I wish I would have listened to Artemesia’s gut when I was posting here a couple of years ago about going to my then-boss’ private firm. I was all gung-ho about leaving my university department to work at my department head’s private firm. Artemesia pointed out several things that seemed problematic to her in the job description and in going to a small private firm with two married partners, but I wasn’t ready to hear any words of caution; I was too hepped up on optimism and envisioning what I wanted. I lasted eight months at that job before I ran screaming back to another department at the university.

    Reply
    1. Chriama

      I remember you talking about that job! But I didn’t follow the conversations too closely. What were the warning signs you ignored, and how’s your relationship with your former boss now?

      Reply
  88. TotesMaGoats

    Hiring Story: When in my first job and sitting on my very first hiring committee, I got bad vibes from one candidate but being the lowest on the totem pole and her selling herself really well she was hired. Well, maybe 3 months later, it turns out she wasn’t going to the recruitment events. “Car issues” every Friday and Monday. To the point we had to have IT track her laptop. I can’t remember if she left or we fired her but I knew something wasn’t right with that person.

    Job Search Story: Looking back at OldJob, I should’ve recognized the gut feeling I got during the interview process. It was in the session with all the program directors and one asked me how I would promote the MAT program to new audiences. I replied that transitioning military are great candidates for teaching and bring great experience. I didn’t just get shot down, I got thrown out of the sky by her response of how ill-suited former military are for teaching. A)You are wrong. Former military are great in the classroom. B)The teaching profession is in desperate need for teachers so beggars can’t be choosers. I was so surprised by her tone but kept going. It was a sign of things to come with that particular person and with the dynamic of the office. I should’ve listened to my gut. Then I wouldn’t have suffered through 1 year and 9 months of that hell. I might not be in NewJob that I love but I wouldn’t have been miserable on top of a horrible commute.

    Reply
  89. Sara

    I worked as a temp worker when I first moved to the state I’m in and was on a nice assignment, decent pay, ok hours, longer term. A different office for the same agency called me on accident and offered me a chance to interview to work at a large telecommunications company. When they realized I was on an assignment though, they said that calling me was an error because I couldn’t interview for another assignment while still on that one. I had a feeling that this new one would be good for me so I called my office, quite the assignment I was on, called the other office and said I wanted to interview for it. I did, got the assignment, was hired on after three months and 15 years later I still work for the same company and have advanced into what is basically my dream job. I have no idea what it was that made me so determined to get to the interview that led to the career but I’m thankful for that feeling, wherever it came from!

    Reply
  90. Jen RO

    Nope, my gut suuucks. I had a really good feeling about my previous job (at the interview I realized that I knew the manager already, and everyone seemed great!)… I left in less than a year because the company went to shit.

    And it sucks even worse when hiring – at least half of the people I really liked in interviews turned out to be ‘meh’ at best.

    Reply
    1. Jen RO

      Oh, and I wasn’t thrilled with my current job after I interview, and I also thought one of the recruiters sucked. I’ve been here for 6+ years.

      Reply
  91. designbot

    Conventional wisdom would have said that I should not have applied to my current job. The job listing was for one clearly below my skill and experience level, and I know I wouldn’t have been happy in it. However I was just dipping my toe back in the water of interviewing and I decided to apply anyway because I really liked the firm’s work and I figured that worst-case scenario, I’d have a conversation with some people I respect for an hour and it wouldn’t work out now but at least now they knew me. Well I applied, got called in for an interview, and as soon as I sat down found out that there was another, as-yet-unadvertised, position available–the boss of the other position they were hiring for was leaving! I had a great conversation with the guy who was leaving and one of the partners, who looked at my book and said “well it looks like you could do his job.” and that was that.
    Been here a year now, it’s been confirmed that my old workplace was indeed a sinking ship, and now I manage the person who got the job I originally applied for. I’m sure this is a 1/1000 chance, but I had a feeling and it panned out.

    Reply
  92. misplacedmidwesterner

    I might have told this story before. I was interviewing for an out of state job and as is not uncommon for my industry, I was set for a phone interview. It was an assistant director position so it was with the director and several board members. The day of the interview, no call. After 15 minutes I call them. After they find the director, he had completely forgotten our scheduled interview. And he actually said “oh that’s why my board members are here.” Apparently he had started an entirely different meeting with them on another subject. He then offered to reschedule. When he called to reschedule, I declined it. I met the person who took that job a few years later. She was local to the area and really wanted to work in her hometown and in that location and she had known what she was walking into. She confirmed that 90% of her job was basically interpreting/running interference for the super flaky director to the rest of the staff/world. She put up with it to work in her hometown, I am glad I didn’t move there for that.

    Reply
  93. anonykins

    My gut is terrible at telling whether someone will be a good boss. Of the two owners at my last company, one was all charm during the interview but turned out to be a serious rager with unrealistic expectations. Luckily, I reported to the other owner who, while he seemed reserved and aloof during my interview, was clearly the better boss to work for in terms of expectations and not getting yelled at on a regular basis. Neither was awesome, but if I had chosen which one to report to I would have chosen poorly.

    Reply
  94. Uncertain and Unsure

    So here’s a related question on gut feelings, if anyone has any input.

    I’ve been trying to get out of my current job for about two years now. This place has had a lot of turnover in the last couple of years, and when people leave the trend has been to pile work on the remaining staff instead of replacing with someone new. There’s a lot of enthusiasm from above about new things and ideas, but very little support for any kind of implementation or recognition of the amount of work it takes to put those ideas into practice. I’ve been battling burnout for a while now and trying to find something else for a while, though I work in a niche field that doesn’t have a lot of opportunities in my area. (Unfortunately moving isn’t in the cards right now.) I’ve been job searching and I’m interviewing for a position now, but after so long looking I’d made the decision that even if I don’t get this new position I will leave my current organization. My spouse and I can swing it without my income for a while and I have been working on building up some freelancing work on the side.

    However, I just got the news that my old position is going to be restructured, people will actually be hired, and I’ll have the opportunity to take on a different role. I’ve been following advice I read here on bringing up the kinds of issues I’m working with so my bosses are aware of them, and trying to think of solutions, but usually I get met with a shrug and “We’ll see.”

    This new role was literally created because of those discussions, and it’s a total shock to find that something’s actually being done about an issue I’ve raised for once.

    On paper it seems like it would be a good move. But my gut is telling me not to take it. I think about it and I feel kind of sick, instead of excited or relieved. I’m worried that the same problems are going to start up again. I liked the job I currently have a lot when it started, but the scope of duties grew out of control and I’m afraid that’s going to happen with this new role too.

    If I get the job I’m interviewing for, that’s one thing, but if I don’t and I were to just leave without something definite lined up it seems… ungrateful, maybe? I don’t know. Do I listen to my gut or not?

    Reply
    1. Newlywed

      I vote listen to your gut. If the company hasn’t been supportive in the past and that’s the way that the leadership has functioned, it’s very unlikely that it’s going to change overnight, even if they create a new position. The work might be different, but you’re still working with the same people, same inept leadership, same toxic culture. And the fact that you’re having a physical reaction to the idea is pretty indicative. You said you’ve already experienced burnout, do you really think you’ll be able to muster up the motivation and energy required to plunge into a new position, given the fact that you are still working under most of the same conditions? I wouldn’t be able to, and I’d want to leave before I burned a bridge or had a breakdown.
      Now you have some good questions to ask when you’re interviewing about expectations and the level of support that employees have under the leadership at potential new company. Some companies try to make changes too little, too late when they see that people are getting jumpy. Good companies try to retain their high performers before they get to the burnout stage. Don’t feel guilty about leaving if it’s time to go.

      Reply
      1. Uncertain and Unsure

        Thank you. I think maybe I needed to hear someone else say it. It’s made a difference in having these two possibilities for an out, with an end in sight, but then this other possibility came up and threw everything out of whack again!

        Reply
        1. AnonyMouse

          “I think about it and I feel kind of sick, instead of excited or relieved.” –> that to me shouts Leave!
          It’s hard to do start any job with the mental attitude of despair. Not only would you need your whole company to miraculously not be inept (unlikely), you’d also need your whole mental attitude to seriously change for this job to be successful. To be clear, I’m not saying, “and so… change your mindset! this is on you!” Conversely, I’m wondering if you’re too burned out already in this position to be able to change your mindset, because of the justified worries you have from your past experience there.
          I hope it all works out for you soon!

          Reply
    2. Turtlewings

      Agreeing with the other two commenters — for good or ill, you are emotionally done with this workplace, and trying to stay would be like letting a boyfriend talk you into staying when you don’t love him anymore. What’s the point of doing that? Well, sometimes the point is keeping food on the table, but you have other options. Take them.

      Reply
  95. KatiePie

    Four years ago, right before landing my current job, I interviewed at one place that would have been a big step up, but I left the interview with my spidey-senses tingling. Knowing I had an interview lined up the next week at now-current-employer, I made the decision that even if I got an offer from this off-company that I would turn it down, even if that meant staying at the place I was and continuing to job hunt forever.
    They didn’t end up offering me a position, and I DID get the job at now-current employer, so I didn’t have to act on my gut, though I’d been prepared to. Well, a few months down the road my boss and I were discussing our previous jobs and it turned out he’d worked for that off-company years prior!! And he confirmed, it was a big clusterf*** and management was horrible.
    Thank you, gut.

    Reply
  96. nonprofit manager

    My gut is seldom wrong. As such, I hardly ever ignore it and have never taken a job where I had a bad feeling. I have withdrawn from consideration and declined offers because my gut said I should.

    My gut is accurate even for people I am close to and care about. Three family members took jobs that I had deep reservations about. One family member was let go for ridiculous reasons that are too long to get into. Another family member’s employer just stopped paying employees and he never recovered that money. A final family member is currently in a pretty bad situation and I am trying to help her work through it.

    Reply
  97. Accidental Analyst

    Previous company hadn’t been doing well in years. I’d moved positions in the company and this somehow made me ineligible for raises (combination of the company doing poorly and I was no longer managing people). Stuck it out for a few years because I cared about the company and the people I worked with. Got a really strong gut feeling I should get my contract changed so my weekly bonus (which kept shrinking) would be rolled into my base pay. Didn’t get the opportunity to as my boss was in lots of meetings. Really should have pushed as we all got laid off and my payout was reduced by $10-15k because the bonus was separate.

    Reply
  98. girlinthecity

    OMG yes. yes yes yes. I wish I had listened to my gut in my first “job” post college. I was hired as a marketing coordinator at a cultural museum/center that also operated as a wedding venue. In reality, I was actually the personal assistant of the elderly couple who owned it and ran it with all their rich friends, secretary, co-event coordinator, etc. Seemed okay, except…..

    post acceptance of the job I was informed I would need to be there 6 days a week, Monday-Saturday, 8 am-6:30 p.m. with a 20 minute lunch break. No benefits and minimal salary. No overtime either. I was also informed shortly after that that I wasn’t allowed to leave the museum for lunch either. My second day, after a conversation about my hobbies and my family, they sat me down to tell me it wasn’t working out, because they felt I would leave the job too quickly because I liked traveling, and they were looking for someone to take over the entire business after they were gone. I had this feeling like this wasn’t the right job for me, but being young and new in a new city and needing a job, and also wanting to be responsible and conscientious, I convinced them to let me stay. I told myself it couldn’t possibly be that bad, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was not the place for me.

    the job became hellish. I was regularly told I needed to clean and organize the janitors closet, or dust the shelves in the attic for hours, or convert boxes of ancient VHS tapes to digital files. This, and typing donor thank you letters, was pretty much all I did. no marketing to speak of. this all came to a head after a large “gala” was held, which involved a 14 hour day that ended with me hand washing 500 wine glasses by hand at midnight before I could leave.

    The night of the gala, the bartenders the bosses had hired got drunk and threw away a bunch of glass bottles instead of recycling them. When the museum reopened for the week (the gala was saturday and they were mercifully closed Sunday) I was informed I needed to retrieve the discarded bottles from the dumpster and dig through the trash to do “inventory.” I was “let go” after I dumpster dived.

    it was the worst three weeks of my life. I should have NEVER come back after day 2.

    oh and, the CEO, the elderly woman, had all these odd and disgusting quirks – she insisted we wash and save plastic forks/plates, made me “bartend” for them and their friends during happy hour, and she would always bring the paper towels she had used after washing her hands in the bathroom and spread them out on top of the microwave in a stack to dry so she could reuse them later. yes, I’m serious.

    Reply
    1. Museum Educator

      I had an internship with a woman like that once. I was trying my hand at development/advancement stuff, but dealing with her and her rich old friends convinced me I would probably end up murdering the people I was trying to get money from if I went that route.

      Reply
  99. technologytalker

    I had an awful feeling about my old job going in– everyone seemed nervous and weird, the receptionist glared at me throughout my interview, I didn’t meet with anyone who’d be actively managing me, and generally I had a weird feeling about the place. I was desperate enough to take the job anyway. It was a big mistake– I was worked to the bone for minimal pay in an office where the CEO openly insulted people and you were considered lucky to be there for six months without being fired. It was disorganized, stressful, and upsetting, and the company increased my anxiety.

    My current job, however, I had a “too good to be true” vibe going in, and it has remained too good to be true. Knock on wood. Seriously, gut feelings exist for a reason.

    Reply
  100. CP_Canada

    Not a great story, but I should listened to my gut feeling before having my entire family moved across the country.

    Three years ago, I visited this restaurant and the moment I stepped inside the place, I was already feeling depressed and literally felt like vomiting (the place is very clean though). I didn’t like the place at all. Yet, my father convinced me it was just because I was feeling unwell…but no, the thing is, I was in super happy condition throughout the whole day until I reached the place. Anyways, ignoring my gut feeling, I brought the restaurant. Now, three years later, I’m desperately trying to sell it so that I can get my life back on track again…but so far, no buyers. I’m just really depressed because nothing seem to be going well at ever since I brought this place. For example, thought I met the love of my life, but he betrayed me; had a miscarriage; my relationship with my family, especially with my father turned sour, but still have to work with him; felt extremely suicidal for a while, but thankfully I’m no longer thinking like that. I think I’m going crazy.

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      So your dad had this idea that he’d be like the chairman of the board, holding council at the prime table in the restaurant, comping wine and appetizers to local celebrities and he talked you into buying a restaurant to make it happen?
      Or not, but whatever, you have my sympathies. Family pressure is the worst.

      Reply
  101. yeah, so this happened

    I once had a strongly negative reaction for no apparent reason upon arriving at a business where I was to interview for a job that I had no interest in doing. But this was back in the bad old days, when the total amount of money I had to my name had only two digits to the left of the decimal point, so I couldn’t afford not to go. And a friend’s father had arranged for it, so I felt obligated.

    I got mugged in the parking lot afterward. They threatened to kill me and took the $13 I had on me. I never heard back about the job. Lesson learned.

    Reply
  102. Manders

    Oh wow, I literally JUST got off the phome with someone who offered me a job that I have a bad gut feeling about. Everything looks great on paper, but I just haven’t been able to shake the feeling that I wouldn’t be happy there. The office is half “disrupters,” including a new CEO who wants to shake up the industry, and half old timers. They’re moving from a cheap location on the edge of town to a trendy open office, they’re hiring a lot of managers from a company with notoriously bad work life balance, and every person I spoke to had a different description of what they wanted from the role. But it’s so perfect on paper…

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      I generally refuse to work for people who self-identify as “disrupters.” And I say that as someone with a massive anti-authority streak who is prone to being mavericky (and often have to dial those parts of my personality down).

      Reply
  103. Relosa

    My intuition kicks in on almost every job interview I go on. Rarely has it been wrong (one glaring mistake this year, boy howdy) but I’m also rarely in a position that I can be picky about it. It’s a mixture of sixth-sense stuff as well as the employer’s glaring red flags. Whatever impression I get of them in the interview process usually turns out to be right, but that could also just be self-fulfilling prophecy, tinted glasses kind of thing.

    Case in point, there is a job that is exactly what I am looking for, an admin role for a company in my primary field. They loved me in the interview, but SO many red flags went off that I was grateful that another opportunity arose. I really would love the experience and chance to get back in my field while doing what I’ve been filling my resume with the past few years, except they flat-out told me the culture is awful and the starting pay just isn’t worth it for the commute. It’s one of those things that in the end would turn out to be a good thing, possibly even a great thing, but the start just seems like too many hurdles and too much toxicity to deal with, and I feel like it would take too much of a toll on me to deal with at my age. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

    They offered me the job but the same week, for once, I was inundated with better offers for freelancing, so I took them. I told the company right away that I wasn’t available but if they were still interested we could possibly talk soon, and they just called me…right as these other projects started to wind down.

    So…I’m going to call them back and see what they want. I’m really reluctant, but maybe the spidey sense is also my own fear of success too.

    Reply
  104. Anon one time

    Yes, yes, gut feeling.

    The thing is: I’ve been multiple (3) times in a position now where I was too unemployed to listen to gut feeling. Twice I didn’t and once I did, this one was the most recent one.

    The two other times… The first time I ended up depressed, completely burned out and with anxiety attacks that I still struggle with. Actually I struggle with all of it, I gained weight, my health has suffered, I felt so worthless.

    The second time I was lucky to be able to turn some of the really bad stuff around (because I had all the freedom in my department I could wish for and an awesome manager), but ten months after moving myself across the country I was laid off with no warning because the company that owned mine cut all ties and closed shop completely. Luckily I only had subletted my old apartment since I couldn’t get out of the lease so quickly, and subletted furnished in the new city (new city = third most expensive city in my country). So I actually had a place to live.

    The most recent one was…well, two weeks ago, actually. I was well qualified for the position, I aced the interview, but there were a few red flags (red to me, they might not have been red to others?), so after a few days of agonizing over whether to sign or not, I decided not to. I was right to, since the week after I did they kept calling and emailing even though I had made it clear I was not interested and out of the country for a family emergency. This is a huge company with subsidiaries all over the world headquartered in the US (we’re not, in the US that is). I like to imagine I dodged a bullet this time and…will keep looking for something and hope it comes along.

    Reply
  105. Ramona Flowers

    I had a weird feeling about a job once and couldn’t put my finger on why. I actually deliberately messed up the interview by telling them I wasn’t sure I wanted the job.

    Fast-forward maybe six months and I spot a bunch of national news headlines about the six-figure tribunal payout they’d just had to pay for sex discrimination. The details made it clear I had dodged a bullet.

    One manager was named in the suit.

    Guess whether that was my interviewer.

    Reply
    1. Ramona Flowers

      And he would have been my boss!

      On the flipside, I took my current job despite a horrible commute and another offer for more money. The job seemed like a great fit and I really liked the vibe in the interview room. I just had a feeling this was – dare I say it – the elusive dream job. (I know, I know, they don’t exist…)

      So I ignored my head and took the job my heart said yes to.

      I’ve never been happier at work.

      Reply
    2. Ramona Flowers

      PS if you want to look up the story, it’s a British broadcaster containing the letters S, K and also Y.

      Reply
  106. Allie

    I interviewed at a law firm that I just got bad vibes from. It seemed like they really really overworked associates. I felt so bad when I didn’t have a job out of law school but a couple weeks later I got my public interest job. It pays less than the law firm, but the quality of life makes it worth it.

    Reply
  107. Rosamond

    I picked the wrong grad school program. I was badgered into it by an advisor who was a graduate of said program. Others tried to gently tell me it was the wrong choice, but I was too young and clueless to understand what was going on. I knew from my first meeting with a faculty member there that I’d made a big mistake. I quit before they could kick me out. However, it indirectly led to a career path that’s been great for me, so I guess it all turned out OK.

    I was brought into a hiring process where one candidate in particular inspired either awestruck admiration OR the crawling heebie-jeebies in everyone who met him. I was in the latter camp, and trying to figure out how to structure “This dude gives me the creeps” as constructive feedback. Then he made an offensive joke during lunch, and his references were a disaster. So I didn’t have to worry about it.

    Reply
  108. Cute Li'l UFO

    Last year’s job hunt was some kind of wild, agonizing, getting-dragged-through-the-brambles adventure. For the most part I’ve listened to my gut, at least.

    Example #1: The Boss who needed LOYAL Employees
    This, mercifully, was just a phone interview. What should have been a phone interview turned into a mostly one-sided rant/therapy session that went on for 50 minutes. I was 25 at the time and had always felt very comfortable interviewing and had handled some less than positive ones before. But this was a complete different level. This guy spent the aforementioned FIFTY MINUTES berating his former designers for “running out on him” and how he needed someone “LOYAL” to work for him. There was, of course, a lull in work. I tried very hard to cut in over the course of said 50 minutes but every time I started talking (even after he’d asked me a question) he would talk over me. Towards the end of it all he started talking about what a great employee I must be and how he’d be so happy if I’d work for him. Internally I just screamed and screamed and worked my signing the phone call off magic.

    Oh, and he said “You don’t look like a [lastname]” in relation to my LinkedIn profile to open up the call. Incredibly incensing for me–I’m multiracial and this might be the fastest way to get on my very, very wrong side. I really do not think I have ever turned down an offer so fast before. Thank god it wasn’t a video or face to face interview. I know I was making many, many agonized facial expressions.

    Example #2: The Spaghetti Staffing Agency
    I worked with this agency as they staffed creative positions but realized I was starting to get really, really disillusioned with them. I’d interviewed for one position that they assured me was a lot of creative work and much less production than anything. I had the description they sent to me as well which backed up their claims.
    So guess who crashed and burned when the technical portion of the interview (and the job, at that) centered on slicing assets in Photoshop. Now, I hadn’t used the slice tool since college and only briefly at that. When the interviewer came to check on me for the second time to ask if I was still working I knew it was over. Spaghetti Agency brushed it off.

    In another instance, they were surprised to hear I’d been let go from a “long term contract” and found out the details from me when I found out that the Parent Company wanted Cloud Co to get rid of contractors. Cloud Co apparently fell into turmoil after that.

    They were really difficult to get ahold of and lied to me about the status of a contract they said I had with HappyCo. Turns out the negotiations that were “almost there” fell apart a month in, after reassurances that everything was fine. I missed out on other opportunities at this time and I know I fell to the sunk cost fallacy at this point. They managed to slide me in and I started working with HappyCo.

    Example 3: Everything is [Not] Awesome.
    HappyCo is one of those companies that has a reputation for high employee satisfaction and those sorts of metrics. They follow a kind of “family” theme. After the kind of waiting I did I felt pretty excited to be there. I had a supervisor who promised me I’d have any kind of tech or mouse that I needed, all the support, everything. Well, my monitor wasn’t working right. It was really difficult to see and it was honestly getting to be an accessibility issue. Cue foot dragging and hand-wringing over whether or not I really needed it. I got the new monitor, but after many pulling teeth. The previous desk occupant had a gaming mouse which I found difficult to use. Cue the same song and dance. I refused to bring my own mouse in after being promised that I could use whatever office one I wanted. It took weeks to get a card to access the elevator and somehow this was made to be my fault that I felt isolated and led around at work.

    The project myself and three other designers were working on were handed down from some impossible-to-contact entity from above and god help us for not reading their minds because we would get material back two hours before the deadline on a Friday. We wasted over half an hour every morning for a couple weeks trying to find a room to meet in to discuss what we would be doing. I pushed back because there was so much time getting wasted simply going around from room to room, floor to floor.

    After a couple of those projects, the work barely materialized. I knew that this was only bad at this point, but I was determined to stick it out. Another supervisor told us to “just act as if your contracts have been extended,” and I don’t know what kept me from getting up and NOPEing my way out of there.

    A catered sushi lunch got brought in one day where all the non-vegan sushi had shrimp or imitation crab in it. I am deathly allergic to crustaceans and was pleased they had a platter of vegan sushi. Except everyone had been grabbing everything with all the same tongs. Since I didn’t have an epipen (my bad, I am well aware but couldn’t afford to refill it) I popped seven benadryl. My supervisor didn’t understand why I was making such a big deal out of it and at that point, I was done. The work as family was a farce, I hated their stupid logo, we barely had the tools and information to deliver good, consistent work.

    I got let go about a week after that. I was out sick for a few days and came back into the office recovering from serious heatstroke to get let go. One of my coworkers walked with me down to the street and to the train at the end of the day. It turns out that everyone else had that same sort of sick feeling that they knew something wasn’t right but we were all determined to ride it out. Everyone else was let go in the next couple months.

    I dumped that agency, made a vow to (do my best to) never go back to HappyCo, and start working where I really wanted to. On the plus side, HappyCo has been a desirable name to have on my resume.

    Reply
    1. Cute Li'l UFO

      I feel like I should explain Spaghetti Staffing’s pseudonym. After my final break up from them I found that other peers (and staffing agencies as well) had the same kinds of issues. One in particular described their shotgun blasts of emails as “throwing spaghetti at the wall” and seeing what stuck. I felt it was a rather apt description for their way of work.

      They also sent me the way of a startup that was convinced I could get their kickstarter up and running within two weeks. God, I think I would have said anything if it would have made them leave me alone so I could run away.

      Reply
  109. Alli525

    I always told myself – and my recruiters – NO FINANCE JOBS. Granted, I was extremely broke and new to NYC when the economy was still heaving itself into some semblance of a recovery, so it’s not like I could afford to be picky, but that’s just not the lifestyle I wanted.

    One day, one of the temp agencies I used called me and said, “Try this. Yeah, it’s finance, and the hours are weird, but it’s doing EXACTLY what you’ve said you wanted to do, and it’s only for three months.” I interviewed, got it, and knew within my first six hours there that this place was 100% perfect for me. But it was temp. So I talked to my supervisor there about my concerns, and 48 hours later I had an interview with the CEO for a full-time role. I was there for more than four years and owe so much of my fortune in life to the time I spent there.

    Reply
  110. Agnes

    I’m glad to see the “my gut was wrong” responses as well. I do wonder how much some of this is confirmation bias.

    That said, I have definitely tried to persuade myself into making decisions that were wrong for me, and heeding a gut feeling was the right thing to do in those situations.

    Reply
  111. Anon Reader

    I have had a couple of bad gut feelings that I don’t know if they were really bad or not because I didn’t take the oppertunity. There is one though that gave me the most creeps. I was around 24 and was just laid off from my first grownup job, after College. I was job hunting and this guy messages me, on on a popular job board, and is from a company I recognize as a client I used to have. He messages me about a project he wants to start and says he could use my help. My thought was, I don’t have anything to lose and may as well hear him out. I touch base and, first flag was, he was mentioning we could meet at a coffee shop, for somewhere to talk, or he works from home a lot and his house would work. Obviously, I chose the public place. He reschedules, says his daughter was sick. That was fine. When I go on the date he rescheduled, he stands me up. I was already feeling defeated about my job prospects. I had worked in kind of a niche industry, and didn’t even really get much experience, years wise, out of it. Anyways, he apologizes, said something came up and asks if we can meet again. Wanting this to work, I decide to meet him. When we meet, he shows up with a 12 month old, or so, girl. She was adorable, but still a little surprised she was there. He tells me of this larger than life plan of starting a business. At this point, I thought he still worked for pervious client. He says he has investers and it is going to be big. Asks me how much money I want to make. He then says, I would eventually need to move to a different country because that is where most of the work will be done and where the investors are. It would be completely paid for though. I would not have to pay for housing or a car and would be making good money. This country was not known to be the ideal place a young women would want to move to. I wanted him to be for real. At the time, I did want to move somewhere, anywhere, far away. I have serious school loans I needed that kind of money for too. I then went back home with out giving him a real answer and looked at his online job board profile again closer. He was a member of some creepy non professional groups, that I didn’t even think existed on this particular website. Which, I mean, could have been a mistake, but with all the other vibes, I decided to cut contact, after that.

    Reply
    1. Snork Maiden

      Reading this story I feel like you dodged what could have potentially been a very, very bad situation. It sounds similar to the sorts of stories you hear from survivors of human trafficking.

      Reply
      1. Anon Reader

        I thought I was being a little paranoid, but my mind went there. I am glad I am not the only one who thought that. Think it is the creepiest thing that has happened to me.

        Reply
        1. Snork Maiden

          I mean, even if it wasn’t, there’s justification enough to drop this so-called opportunity based on the vague promises about “investors” and “big plans” and few details. But I am very wary of jobs where they promise to move you to an entirely different country and cover all of your expenses and housing without a formal contract (or avenues for recourse). I prefer to arrange that for myself, thanks.

          Reply
  112. Snork Maiden

    I went for an interview with an owner of a local startup that offered professional services to other small businesses. (It was a casual meeting arranged by a friend who knew us both and set it up, knowing I was looking for a different job.) He sold it very well, being a flexible job I could work from anywhere, but I was slightly put off with how charming he was – I don’t accept compliments or praise well, especially if it’s right away when I meet someone who knows nothing about me – and said I’d reserve judgement for later.

    After thinking about it for a bit, I realized all the pros he told me were cons – it was just another exploitative gig economy thing where I’d have to do work unpaid in order to “bid” on jobs, would be expected to be on call at all times, and have no security or benefits – and making less per hour than I currently make now. Now I have my own business set up where I freelance part time in evenings and weekends while still paying the bills at my main job. I vastly prefer it, and now even though I am applying for jobs elsewhere, I feel like I am only doing it out of obligation to friends who send me listings. I pay more attention now to when my gut gets “excited” about something, and I move towards that feeling.

    Reply
    1. Snork Maiden

      Oh, and I also charge 3.5x my day job rate for freelance , and my clients gladly pay it – and insist I charge more, which I may take them up on it, haha.

      Reply
  113. A Nonny Mousse

    I am logical to a fault, so I tend to forcefully ignore my gut feelings/logic them away… and yet in the past couple of years I’ve worked at a couple of terrible jobs where my gut was screaming at me during the interviews, “RUN AWAY!!!” Both times I ignored it…and both times it turned out to be right.

    Reply
    1. A Nonny Mousse

      To clarify – both times I ignored my gut when offered the job in question, so both times I accepted the position, and found out shortly after starting that my gut was right.

      Reply
    2. Spelliste

      Yeah, logic has its limits, much as some of us have believed or wished otherwise. Better luck to you in the future!

      Reply
  114. Fantasma

    A couple of years ago, I relocated for a job at a Fortune 500 company. I’d hit a ceiling in my previous job and had been looking for close to a year. A friend referred me for a job in her company several states away. The hiring manager was great, but during the interviews, I got the sense she was warning me (which she later confirmed after we’d both moved on). I went through a dozen interviews with various people (many of whom asked me the same questions over and over) and by the end of them I had nearly lost my voice.

    Despite thinking they seemed highly disorganized and something was off, I accepted the job and moved. The company was going through some major business challenges, and within a month of starting the job, I knew I’d made a mistake. But I was determined to stick it out, partly because I thought I could salvage things and partly because I couldn’t afford to repay the relocation and sign-on bonus. I’d moved to a much more expensive area and was basically living paycheck to paycheck. I was miserable.

    About 9 months in, I spotted a similar job at a nearby company. I didn’t have the same twinges during the interview process and it turned out to be a much better fit.

    Reply
  115. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

    My gut feeling once told me to leave a job. this was in early days of my working life. I had taken a position in another department. It turned out to be miserable. My gut feeling told me to leave (even though I had no other prospects). After weeks of agonizing, I told my supervisor that I was leaving. About two weeks after that, I got a call from the employment agency that I’d signed with for a position at a (then) great company where I worked for 20 years. I learned a lot at this job and got to work with some great people. If I had not followed my gut, I would never have gotten the great job that I got.

    Reply
  116. sometimeswhy

    I was interviewing for temporary work to get the feel for the industry in the part of the country I’d just moved to and one of the interviews just rang like a broken bell.

    The place was deserted. The person doing the hiring interview was actually a couple levels above my hypothetical supervisor in the org chart. When I asked when I’d get to talk to the supervisor, they indicated that they were also hiring for that position. When I asked about the team, they told me about two other people who were both temps working on short-term projects. At that point alarm bells were klaxoning pretty enthusiastically.

    Then I asked why this large facility had so few people present and the interviewer hemmed and hawed and finally said, “Well, recently we had a bit of a blood-letting.” And just left it at that.

    Not, “We’re recovering after a an issue that unfortunately I can’t discuss but required terminating much of this division’s staff.”

    Not, “A number of staff recently left to pursue a related project with a sister agency and unfortunately their offer for them to start soon was better than we could do to retain them while we prepared for the transition.”

    “Bloodletting.”

    I ended up with a different job and over the course of that assignment, I saw BOTH of the temps from BloodlettingOrg come through on interviews. Like less than a month later.

    Reply
    1. Hey Karma, Over here.

      I’ve always thought that euphemisms like “downsizing” and “ROF” did a disservice to the reality of people losing their jobs.
      Bloodletting.
      I rescind my former opinion.

      Reply
  117. Michaela

    Yep. I once interviewed for a software development position at a startup, and got a weird vibe — the office was empty when I came in, they never asked me technical questions, and their plan for the product was “get acquired by Google” which is (as you know Bob) the underpants gnomes of startups. They were super-aggressive about recruiting me, and I just …. didn’t think I was *that* great a fit, and even though I was miserable in my then-current job, I withdrew from consideration. I can find no evidence the product was ever released, and they *definitely* weren’t acquired by Google. Pretty sure I dodged a bullet (not least because I almost immediately landed the job I really wanted and which has developed into a great career).

    Reply
      1. Drama Llama's Mama

        It’s from a Southpark episode, where the Underpants Gnomes have a grand business scheme to make a boatload of money. Someone asks them their business plan, and it goes like this:
        1. Steal underpants
        2. ?????
        3. Profit

        Reply
  118. Sunshine on a cloudy day

    I was working at a company and had been offered a promotion to a different department. I’d be taking over the role of one of my closest friends at the company. I knew she was remaining at the company so I assumed she was being transferred to a different dept. Eventually I found out that she was not being transferred to a different dept – the department was expanding and she was being promoted into this new role.

    For some reason I was filled with unexplainable dread that I could not articulate to anyone. Something about finding out that she would be solely responsible for my training and that I’d be working very closely with her made me almost sick to my stomach.

    Turned out that she was a nightmare to work with and the fact that we had a close personal relationship really complicated the matter – I was afraid to advocate for myself because I didn’t want to feel like I was “throwing a friend under the bus”. Within a year she had isolated me from the rest of the dept., lied about me to HR and had effectively put my job in jeopardy. I was so stressed by the situation that I quit with nothing lined up.

    I wish that I had listened more to my gty. I wouldn’t have turned down the promotion (it brought me into a highly desireable/hot niche in my industry), but I wish I had really examined that feeling (instead of dismissing it outright) so that I could have been more prepared and handled the situation better.

    I will say, there was a happy ending – I had a new job lined up within a week of my last day in this role. New job was for a more reputable company and at almost double the salary (with some crazy perks). Also learned that business is business, and that I always have to advocate for myself despite personal relationships.

    Reply
  119. Rachael

    When I was 20 I wanted to change from my retail job. My ex-husband convinced me to interview, along with his brother, at a call center. The moment I walked in I knew that it was a scam. Group interview. Very salesman-ny “interviewer” giving us a tour and all the “amenities”. We were given a tour and then each of us were given a “conversation” test where the interviewer was supposed to make a decision on whether we had “phone voices”. That’s it.

    I was told that people received a post card in the mail about something (some type of insurance? I don’t remember) and were calling in to ask questions. We were not telemarketing because THEY were calling. It just seemed fishy to me and I didn’t accept their offer when they called. My brother in law, however, did. One week later he went into work and the entire floor was empty, the company gone, and a whole lot of employees saying “huh?”.

    Continued working for stupid retail place, but still had a job. Got a lot of crap from my ex and his brother until that day. Dodged that bullet.

    Reply
  120. Newlywed

    My gut told me to turn down a couple of job offers while I was in a toxic job and desperately seeking something else. I’m glad I did…it took longer, and it sucked working for that toxic company as long as I had to, but I’ve been in new job for a year and a half, and although it’s tough some days it’s a much better place to be than previous company. If you’re stuck in a job you don’t like (and you don’t have “I quit” money), try to stick it out long enough to wait for the next right thing. Desperation sometimes causes us to ignore our gut instincts, but I was determined to not land myself in another job like that, so I took the chance and waited a few more months. Now, previous company there was actually regular harassment going on and unsafe work environment, and I did take the first thing that opened up to get out of there (which is how I found next toxic job), but the next time around I waited and I’m glad I did.

    Reply
  121. Daisy Mae

    I didn’t get saved by my gut, but did have my gut validated. After a series of 4 interviews with a pretty well known charity, I got the impression they were disorganized and not really sure what they were looking for. I got the impression because they literally forgot they had scheduled me for a 3rd interview (I had taken the day off of work as they were in another city) and for my 4th interview I was interviewed by 3 people I had already interviewed with and the President who basically berated me the entire time I was there. Unhappy and anxious, I had a very hard time deciding whether I even wanted the job and worried about what I would do if they should offer it to me. I decided to let fate take it’s course. I sent no follow-up and didn’t reach out following the interview. A few weeks later they sent me a form letter in the mail saying they had chosen someone else. Best part… the salutation read “Dear Smith” as in Daisy Mae Smith. Couldn’t even put a Ms. in there. The person they hired lasted 6 months.

    Reply
  122. Abby

    My husband and I had moved to a new city and I was excited about an interview I had for a researcher position at a university in the field in which I held a master’s degree. During the interview, the head researcher was really pushy about why I had conducted research in a certain way, what classes in my field I had chosen, etc. Even when I tried to give an answer such as in that class the professor designed the project and we had to complete it the way it was assigned, he would keep pushing. I finally didn’t know what to say to his questions. I left the interview assuming I wouldn’t get the job.

    I was stunned when I later got a call offering me the job. I asked for a day to think about it and in that time talked to both my parents and my husband about the bad feeling I had during the interview. I decided to turn it down. When I called and declined the job by stating it just wasn’t the right fit for me, the person replied, “Well we didn’t really think you could do the job, but decided to offer it to you anyway.” I knew immediately that I had done the right thing.

    Reply
    1. Jadelyn

      …that’s the working-world equivalent of that guy who hits on a woman, gets turned down, and immediately says “Well you were ugly anyway, b****.”

      Reply
  123. Rookie Manager

    I had a great first interview with potential boss and peer. I knew I did well and the job sounded great and in the city I wanted to live in so I was excited to be invited to a second interview at Head Office. As it was far from home, I had to stay over the night before so my Mum came with me to HO city to keep me company and help with the drive.

    During the second interview with potential boss, deputy and director I got really mixed signals. As I got into the car afterwards I told my mum, I haven’t got it the deputy didn’t like me. However the next day I was offered the job with perfect hours and a mid-range salary despite my lack of experience. I couldn’t not accept, so I packed up my stuff, left home (again!) and moved to the new city.

    During the induction I felt uncomfortable with the deputy but excited about everything else. Another new start even commented on the way she talked to me. However the boss told me the deputy loved me and I was her first pick.

    Anyway, the first couple of years were great, my manager was an amazing mentor, she supported my continuing education and talked about succession planning. And I avoided the deputy as much as was professionally possible and boss mediated when she was unreasonable. (“No you can’t have an office like everyone else. If you dislike working from home (not part of original offer, office space fell through after 6mnths) just quit or raise a grievance”)

    Because my boss was so awesome she got a big promotion and the deputy was shoehorned into the manager role, no adverts, no interview just there she was one day. The next two years were hell. I cried lots. I recieved no further training or encouragement. Annual reviews and targets were written in a passive voice with no pronouns which made them open to interpretation and therefore impossible to objectively achieve. She changed her mind on a whim and I would be berrated one week for doing something the way I was told to do it the previous week. My integrity and judgement was constantly questioned. At one point she raised a grievance against me for bullying her (not a typo, grievance not disciplinary depite being my manager)! This was not upheld as I wasn’t even present at the key incident the alleged bulying took place but it definitely had a huge impact on my mental health. I held on cos I loved that job but eventually something happened and I realised I was in such a bad way I needed to quit to save my health and my relationship.

    Long story short; I knew from that first meeting the deputy didn’t like me. I should have followed my gut, not my pride and started looking for jobs as soon as she took over. It would’ve saved me a lot of grief and I could have found a good job to move to instead of having to take the first thing that came along after sudden resignation. I’m back on track careerwise now but I wish it hadn’t taken so long. I’ll never ignore that feeling again.

    Reply
  124. InsomniacMuffin

    I was in a rather terrible work environment and there was talks of closing our District offices, so I started looking around to try and ‘get out while the getting is good’.

    The job I currently have called me, loved my resume and wanted to interview. I took off a day from my current job and went down. Interview went good.. The job sounded amazing! I would have a quiet office environment with few coworkers (most employees work remotely), my own office overlooking the waterfront, a free parking space (downtown!), the go-ahead to hire myself a part-time assistant, education support (I’m a part-time student), huge potential to shape my own position and make my mark professionally… and on and on and on… I was swooning!

    But that negative feeling happened – Why is this AMAZING job hiring ME? I was not finished my degree yet.. I was just starting out my career so there were tons of more qualified applicants. The salary was ‘good’ so that wasn’t the issue.. was I just being insecure?

    Red flags:
    – the person who held the role was leaving after 8 months
    – the person she replaced prior had only been with the company a year
    – the staff had been completely turned over twice in the last 3 years, with only two exceptions (staff of 20)
    – the owner made it clear to me during the interview that he could have had his pick of people, even repeatedly told me they “had over 60 candidates”
    – management no-showed to TWO of my SEVEN interviews
    – questions during interviews became really invasive, demanding to have access to my social media and my company (I have a small side business NOT related to the role)
    – called my references after the first interview but did not make an offer until after the seventh interview
    … and those are just the highlights.

    So yes, I did take the job. But, with all these red flags I did it with open eyes and a deadline. This is a “one-year” job to me to get experience and then I’m out.

    So what happened to all these AMAZING perks of the job?
    TRUE – I would have a quiet office environment with few coworkers (most employees work remotely)
    TRUE – my own office overlooking the waterfront
    FALSE – a free parking space. Owner decided he wanted the parking and “too bad’. I now pay $250/month for parking
    FALSE – the go-ahead to hire myself a part-time assistant. Owner told me he shouldn’t have to pay someone ELSE to do MY job.
    FALSE – education support. Owner says he shouldn’t have to pay people to learn to do their job.
    FALSE – huge potential to shape my own position and make my mark professionally. The only thing I shape is how much free overtime I am willing to work before I have to go home and shower compared to how much I am going to get yelled at by my boss for not completing all 4,280 things I got delegated today
    and on and on and on…

    And although I got every single one of those things in writing, the ‘rules’ are only as strong as your will to try and get them enforced, so since I am on a self-imposed “one year contract” I grin and bear it til I get out of here.

    Reply
  125. Former Paralegal

    I was working with a recruiter last fall and she kept trying to push me into paralegal/legal assistant gigs that I didn’t want. I made it clear to hear I wanted to work for a bigger firm (no solo attorneys) and have a minimal amount of receptionist-type duties. (Preferably none.) She got me an interview with . . . a solo attorney who wanted someone to do receptionist and admin duties, in addition to paralegal work. I didn’t even want to go to the interview but I was unemployed and needed something.

    I ended up getting hired pretty much on the spot and from the start, the job was a nightmare. I was left alone for days at a time, received almost no training, and often had nothing to do. However, when projects did come down the pike, it involved using litigation database software (which I hadn’t used) and I was expected to do things perfectly on the first try with little guidance. The boss eventually got to the point where she would berate me, treat me like I was stupid, etc. She fired me two weeks ago and now I have no money, and am waiting to see if I get unemployment.

    An aside — before this lawyer hired me, she had gone through two assistants in two months, firing them both. A major warning sign that I didn’t learn about until it was too late.

    I should have listened to my gut when I didn’t even want to go to the interview. I knew it was the wrong fit for me but when you don’t have anything, what can you do? But I learned from the experience and am now looking for a job on my own (no more recruiters who don’t listen to me) and I am not working for lawyers again, esp. solo practitioners or small firms. Time to move on.

    Reply
  126. no one, who are you?

    Before I went into my current field I quit two restaurants right before they started circling the drain. When you can’t deposit your paycheck the day it’s written, there’s your sign.

    Reply
  127. Jadelyn

    I went on a one-day trial for a call center job which I had been assured was not sales. The first day was all about *if* you’re really committed to the work, you can make ALL THE MONEY! It’s just that most people aren’t committed enough, of course. The trainer said something about how men with a family to support are always his best employees because they’re so motivated…said to a room full of women, over half of which were single mothers. And it wasn’t directly sales, but it was “appointment-setting” *for* the sales people. At the end of the day, I spoke to the trainer privately and said thanks but this really isn’t the job for me, even though I’d been unemployed awhile and was getting desperate. I just had a really skeevy sense of the place.

    A couple months into my current job, I heard that they’d been raided and shut down for scamming people out of their money. Glad I dodged that bullet.

    Reply
  128. Tuxedo Cat

    It’s been variable for me. For one job, my gut feeling was accurate and I had a good experience.

    For my current job, so many unpredictable things have happened that my gut didn’t have a sense of. Then again, I don’t know whose gut could’ve predicted any of the personal problems my boss has had, some of the weird workplace events that didn’t involve me but affected me, and so on.

    Reply
  129. Anon for the nonce

    I had been trying to get a job in another state for over a year. I was in a bad situation at my then-employer and my spouse and I needed to be in a new place. I got an offer and my gut reaction was to tell the hiring manager no. I asked him to give me time to think it over. That was on a Friday afternoon, and by Monday I had convinced myself that it wasn’t as bad as all that and I was suffering from Imposter Syndrome and I told him yes.

    The job turned out to be the biggest embarrassment of my professional career. I was forced to resign after a month. I was blacklisted by that employer and did major damage to my professional reputation in the state.

    I have a new job and everything is (mostly) fine now, but never again will I ignore my gut!

    Reply
  130. Anonymouse

    So this is something I’m trying to figure out now:

    My partner is going to grad school across the country, I miraculously got an interview at the university in my field. But, while it is in my field, it’s about the same type of job I have currently that I’d like to move on from. They have offered me the position and the pay is less than what I currently make. I’d be moving to an area with a higher cost of living. I asked them to match my current pay (not even $2000 more per year) and they declined. They want my answer by the end of this week (they called me today) and told me they have other candidates to consider.

    I was already on the fence about it not quite being the job I want. Their trying to make me decide really quickly and saying “No” to paying me $0.89 more an hour is really sticking with me. My first thought (that I didn’t say out loud!) when she mentioned wanting to know because there are other candidates was “So call them, then.” I’m obviously not feeling this job but I don’t know if I should trust my gut.

    Any thoughts??

    Reply
    1. AMPG

      I wouldn’t do it, unless you absolutely cannot be without a job once you move. They sound unreasonably inflexible.

      Reply
      1. Anonymouse

        While extra income would be great, I don’t think it’s necessary. Thank you for the response! It is so helpful to hear someone else say what you’re thinking but wondering if it’s true.

        Reply
    2. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      I’m not sure how specialized your field is. I’d say it depends on the job market in your field in that region. If there are private sector jobs, you’ll probably do better pay-wise in those. Or, look at the overall picture of the university. From my experience in higher ed, salary is usually pretty firm because they’ve had to go through a whole approval process for the budget. What other benefits do they offer? Could you take the job for now with an eye to transfer within the university later?

      But it doesn’t even sound like you have a job offer, just an interview. I think if you’re committed to moving to that area regardless of a job, you should interview, if you can, just to get a better idea of the university and region.

      Reply
      1. Anonymouse

        They did offer me the position today and asked for an answer by the end of this week. I asked if I could have until next week to look at numbers (since they were not willing/able to consider an increase in salary) and her response about needing to know because there were other candidates threw me off a little.

        I think normally I’d accept the position and look to transfer internally later, but this interaction has put a bit of a weird taste in my mouth. I’m not sure if that’s me being fairly new to professional jobs (4ish years) or a legitimate feeling to pay attention to.

        Reply
        1. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

          I missed that they’d given you a job offer. I think you might be getting personally offended over their inflexibility. Universities are, by and large, not the most flexible employers on pretty much anything it seems. Whether it’s a public university or private, there are layers upon layers of approval processes for the most mundane things.

          Reply
        2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          I would say no. Universities are definitely bureaucratic, but this sounds unusually picky. Nonetheless, it doesn’t sound like a great match for you, and it sounds like you’d start with a bad taste in your mouth. I tend to think that if we expect bad things to happen, they almost certainly will. Which isn’t to say that sometimes legitimately bad things happen through no fault of our own—they do—but most of us telegraph our misgivings, even when we’re trying to be subtle. And then as things go south it just confirms our misgivings, which drives the cycle of suck.

          Reply
    3. InsomniacMuffin

      Ask yourself if this feeling of being cheaply-bought will ‘go away’ if you take the job.

      Is the answer that you will spend the next year (or however long until a raise happens) unhappy and bitter over the pay reduction?
      Or do you think it will take longer than X weeks that difference in wage represents to find something else?

      More important (IMO) than the salary is that you are taking a lateral position, so closely question how this impacts future opportunities.
      – can you move “up” from this position as easily/easier?
      – specifically, is where I am moving to equal in ability to replace my position if it doesn’t work out, or will I have to move all the way back?

      Reply
  131. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

    I wish I’d listened to my gut at once. I’d just gotten laid off (say on a Tuesday), and scored an interview right away (say Thursday). After the interview the owner (small company about 20 employees) took me on a tour of the place. They had a large empty room that could have fit 20 desks. He said it would be filled with designers in the next year. That seemed…ambitious to say the least. I didn’t believe it would be filled like he said, but believed that the place was growing (they’d been in business for 20 years and had a good reputation with customers). I was happy that I was going to get a new job right away. I should have taken just a bit more time job searching.

    I should have seen the crazy overconfidence for what it was. He was a good business man and the business was successful, but he was a nightmare to work for; no sense of realistic expectations on anything (turn around time, job load, expected no personal time off); no sense of boundaries (he once hired a pressman only after he secretly drove by the guy’s house to check out how he lived and kept his yard). I lasted 3 years just because I didn’t want to look like I was job-hopping.

    Reply
  132. Roman Holiday

    Oh I’ve got a doozy here. I was about six months out of grad school, about four months into a woefully underpaid six-month internship and job-hunting for all I was worth. I went to a networking event with some alumni, and a former professor introduces me to a guy who runs a local non-profit in exactly my field. I was delighted, and spent about 30 minutes chatting with him, during which time numerous conversational red flags come up (too much detail about his personal life, for example), but I was a broke intern who really needed a real job, so I gave him my contact information and we agreed to meet for a coffee/informational interview. He sent me a couple of texts, which were also borderline strange, and my gut kept saying something was off about him, so I googled him and his organisation (which I probably would have done anyways) but his Wikipedia page revealed that he was responsible for bombing a nuclear power plant decades prior, in protest of nuclear energy. I actually kept the coffee meeting out of curiosity, but boy was my gut right that time.

    Reply
  133. AMPG

    Once I was given the opportunity to be part of an employee roundtable interview for the finalists for a new Sr. VP position. One candidate was very charming and had been with the same company for a number of years, but had switched divisions every year or two. So I asked him, point-blank, since we had had a lot of instability in our leadership and really needed someone who would commit for several years, “How likely do you think it is that you’ll look for a new challenge a couple of years from now, before our division has settled down?” He gave a very charming non-answer, and we heard through the grapevine later that he had really impressed the CEO and was the definite front-runner. When his hiring was announced, I told my co-workers that I’d be shocked if he lasted three years. He left after two to run his own company.

    Reply
  134. Lady By The Lake

    I am an expert in a specialized industry. I was downsized from my previous job and decided to move back to Minneapolis. A local company heard about it and contacted me the day after my moving van arrived. They wanted me to come right in for an interview at that very moment. I cleaned up and went in at about 3 pm and met with the guy who would be my boss for about 40 minutes. His boss stopped by and I said hello. They called to offer me a job before 5pm. Understand, this was a high level position — I would have expected to meet with the head of the business unit, some of my colleagues etc. My spidey sense told me that the whole thing was ridiculous, but I decided to take the job for one year anyway. My ultimate goal was to open my own consulting business. I was so right — I HATED that job. It wasn’t a good culture fit. The great thing was that because I hated it so much it really lit a fire under me to take the plunge to open my own shop. What was even better was that on Tuesday of the week where I intended to quit on Friday (almost a year to the day since I’d started), I got fired with a handsome severance because it wasn’t a good fit. I was right — ridiculous.

    Reply
  135. PNW Jenn

    I interviewed for a position as an event manager for a community college that had 2 campuses. This was a new position and would have required that I set and explain policies across both locations. Upon completion of my interview with the woman who would have been my boss, I was walked over to a person who was retiring soon. The boss said to the retiring woman, “would you take this young lady for a tour of campus?”. I was 40 at the time. The boss’ off-handed comment made it obvious that I wouldn’t be taken seriously by her, nor allowed to have full authority over my area.

    I withdrew from the running the following weekend, citing another opportunity.

    Reply
  136. New Bee

    Not exactly related to my job search, but I run trainings for other teams and my feelings about which people are going to make it through training and which won’t have been spot on. In one case, there was a woman who came in and did a lot of complaining and conversation-dominating, even though she has no expertise and needed the training. I found out last week she basically said, “F this; I’m out” and is doing the bare minimum during her notice period, which leaves the rest of her team picking up the pieces of executing a major project, not to mention hiring a replacement. I feel bad for those folks, but also I told them so(!).

    Reply
  137. Kat

    Regarding a gut feeling about somewhere I worked…I didn’t really have one but in hindsight I should’ve known. I interviewed for a job at Winners and was 20 living on my own for the first time and needed a new job since the retail one I had didn’t pay much and Winners paid out a bit more to start. I was interviewed and later got a call from the store manager offering me the job. Accepted. Same day a couple hours later the assistant manager who I would report to (and who was part of the interview) called….to offer me the job.
    I lasted about 12-14 months and quit without anything lined up. There was constructive dismissal, toxic workplace where I was expected to learn how to change my communication style to deal with staff who were pissed I got hired externally (when internal staff are given first preference) and they were insubordinate to me. They also broke a bunch of labour laws related to maximum hours you can be scheduled and breaks between shifts. Then I got written up for insubordination when I expressed concern about being scheduled to work to 11pm (which really meant I’d be clocking out closer to midnight) and then scheduled for 7am the next day. When I quit I filed for employment insurance. You typically don’t get it if you quit but I wrote down everything they did and was approved. After I took a business law class at college a few years later I realized I could’ve gotten way more money filing a complaint against them with the ministry of labour if I’d only known to do that. I had friends that moved to other stores or even to their sister company Homsense and same crap went on.
    Lesson I learned: if they are incompetent during the hiring process pay attention. If you work there and there’s stuff they do that’s not cool, don’t trust HR or rely on management. Do your own research into your rights cuz no one will tell you definitively (unless you hire a lawyer) and file complaints with independent oversight organizations if you believe the law has been broken. Often times what happens to you might not cross the line but there might be other practices that do and having an outside party investigate could help bring those issues to light. Anytime people would tell me they love Winners/Homsense I would tell them that they can afford low prices because of the laws they break and way they abuse their staff.
    I really think that part of every high school education should be basic information on laws about min wage, hours, break times, etc. that are specific to the area/jurisdiction you live in.

    Reply
    1. Kately

      Thanks for writing this. I’ve shopped there before but I won’t anymore and I’ll tell my family. I had kind of guessed it wasn’t that great based on the employees’ expressions, but never really sat down and thought about it – besides, all those deals! //sarcasm

      I too was taken advantage of at a fast food job, late hours and unpaid overtime. Fortunately I got a job at the university right away so I left.

      Reply
  138. T3k

    It was a mix of gut feelings and just how things were going in the interview. My last job, I was desperate for a job because I had suddenly been laid off (as in, told the day of the layoff) so I panicked and took the first thing that came along. I kept trying to tell myself this would be a great opportunity, do what I went to school for, etc. Yeah, no. During the interview, I kept feeling the owner didn’t have a good sense of business (she’d practically already decided to hire me before we even met). Turns out I was right. On top of being completely disorganized, the owner would get into regular yelling arguments with another employee, sometimes within earshot of customers (that was awkward), was very tech illiterate, and refused to fire a relative who did such a piss poor job, I ended up having to cover her position for the first several hours until she got her butt into the office (and she only lived 5 mins. away while I was 40 mins.). I stayed there for a year before I had enough from the stress and quit. Turns out, I stayed almost 3 times longer than the people who held that position, and last I saw, they were hiring again after 5 months (which means they’d already gone through my replacement).

    Reply
    1. Wendy Darling

      I just posted about my crappy job. A few months in I found out that they’d had AT LEAST three other people in that job in the last year and that the longest any of the others had lasted was one month. Apparently one person quit after two weeks and another was fired after two weeks.

      When I asked them why the job was open they just said “the last person wasn’t the right fit, you seem like a great fit”. They did not tell me that the last 3+ people were such bad fits they lasted a month or less. I also ended up being a bad fit. I’m relatively certain that there is not a person on earth who would be a good fit for that job.

      Reply
  139. Jennifer Walters

    After law school, I moved to another state to be with my husband. So, after the bar, I had no connections and was not having any leads on attorney jobs when I was awaiting bar results, so I started applying for legal assistant positions in hopes someone would get my resume and I could either temp or get an attorney job at the same firm when I passed the bar. I ended up getting an interview with a small firm that did NOT do the type of law I wanted to do, but I was desperate and very pleased that I went in for a receptionist job and came out in the running for a yet-to-be-advertised law clerk position. The night after the interview, I got this terrible gut feeling that I should work there. But, again, I was desperate and took the offer when it came. The environment was AWFUL. One of the partners yelled at EVERYONE consistently, none of the legal assistants showed up on time, and, when I passed the bar, they took me to lunch to ask me “what I was going to do.” I asked about positions with them and got the run around. That was fine. I started job searching.

    While job searching, I had a GREAT interview but they told me they wouldn’t make a decision at the end of the month. During the interim, the firm gave me a verbal job offer, but wouldn’t give me a written one while the yelling partner was on vacation. I was told by other associates that the money was good and I should take it. Same bad gut feeling. Morning the yelling partner was supposed to come in and give me an offer, I got a call from the GREAT interview firm. Gut said yes, so I did too. Had the written offer from the GREAT interview firm within the hour. Immediately went to the partner to give my two weeks and he goes, “We were going to give you an offer.” and I just said “Well, I’m sorry, but you didn’t.”

    My new job is the BEST. People still jokingly ask me if I get yelled at every day. I do not!

    Reply
  140. Wendy Darling

    I had a bad feeling about my last job but I ignored it because I was so desperate to find a new job after getting laid off. I regretted it immensely and ended up quitting that job after less than a year because it was such a disaster. (Takehome: Don’t become a data analyst for a company that is actively hostile to data-driven decision-making.)

    Reply
  141. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

    My gut is usually on point when it comes to people, and I have no problems pushing away or avoiding people who make my gut-o-meter go off. But I’m very bad at listening to my gut for life decisions. I think I always feel like I need proof, and “my gut feels bad” seems like not-proof. I’ve finally come around to being ok with turning jobs down that feel squicky, even if I can’t articulate what’s bothering me about the offer.

    Anyway, I have numerous hiring stories where my gut was right, but I was in a “junior” position and was outvoted. I’ll share the most insane one.

    One of my first post-college jobs was as a data monkey for a professor (i.e., a full-time RA who helped design and run his statistical analysis). My boss had funding for two full-time RAs, and he hired my colleague shortly after I started. He consulted me, but I didn’t have any decision-making role.

    My colleague was exceedingly odd, but most of all, her stories about her qualifications didn’t really make sense. She was supposed to have much greater technical expertise than I did, but she couldn’t answer very basic questions. Before he hired her, I gently encouraged him to do a reference check as a back-stop, noting that things didn’t seem to add up. I encouraged him to reference check before hiring her, which he declined to do. I didn’t push it because I was also new, and we were supposed to be peers—I wasn’t going to push the envelope with my boss.

    Her application stated she’d graduated from a university that’s famous for its math/econ/stats program, where she’d taken grad-level classes, RA’d for two Nobel prize winning profs for 2-3 years, and graduated with a 3.9 GPA. But she had trouble coding analytic files in the “easier” of two primary programs used in our field, didn’t understand several basic forms of regression analysis, and despite a very flexible work schedule (i.e., we could work from home, work odd hours, etc., as long as we could be nearby for impromptu meetings), disappeared after the first month and did not turn in work or respond to emails from our boss. She had applied to PhD programs and was not admitted at any of them, so she applied for MBA programs, and my boss for some reason wrote her a strong reference and made calls on her behalf. (!?)

    After three months of me covering the workload for two RAs, he finally called her references. Turns out 90% of her application was a lie. The Nobel prize winning profs had never heard of her, let alone hired her. She had very barely graduated after spending seven semesters on academic probation and she never took the graduate coursework (or if she audited, she did not take it for credit)—in fact, she’d received D’s and F’s in all of her stats analysis classes. And in addition to falling off the face of the earth and refusing to turn in work product or come into the office, she had been out of the country for months with no concrete plans to return. Even after that, he didn’t fire her, and I only saw her for one week before the end of our tenure. She later changed her first name (harder to Google), and I think works as an associate for a global bank.

    Reply
      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

        He had never had to fire anyone—particularly not an RA—before for poor performance. He had no frame of reference for understanding what to do because it was so far beyond any experience he’d ever had. He was also worried she would hold some of the raw data files hostage if he fired her before her term expired.

        But I think he also didn’t understand the full scope of her disappearance until about six months into a one-year contract, and he decided to just wait her out (!). He also had a lot of family stuff going on, so I think it was just way too much.

        Reply
  142. SheLooksFamiliar

    I’d been contracting with a company for 3 months when my boss asked if I would consider a newly created, very specific, permanent role on her team. She and her boss were restructuring the department, making significant changes to process – really, just overhauling the entire function. The catch? She offered me a role doing what I hated the most, with a plan to move me to a new role in 1 year. And that role would let me do what I loved the most.

    My SO and friends all tried to dissuade me, and for good reasons. Keep to the terms of your contract, you prefer contracting, you HATE doing that kind of work even short term, she might quit and then what happens…they all said what you would expect, and made good points. But I just knew this would be a good move for me, and that I could trust her. Nothing really major, just a feeling. So I accepted…

    ….and it was the best job, best team, best boss I ever had! My first year wasn’t as bad as I’d feared because she had my back every step of the way during a difficult process change, which made me wonder if I really hated the function or just had bad bosses in the past. And almost a year to the day, I moved into the promised new role. It was the happiest 6 years of my professional life, and my former boss is still my mentor and friend.

    Reply
  143. AWall

    The only time I’ve had my spidey sense tingle was for my 2nd ever job as a waitress. They were hiring generally – the company owned several different restaurants in the area and were always hiring – so I had a job interview with an HR woman and then a hour long trial at a restaurant that wasn’t where I ended up working so I never met my manager before being hired. These days I would insist on meeting my manager before accepting an offer but I had no experience in job hunting before (my 1st job I got because my Dad worked there) so just didn’t know better and didn’t see it as strange.

    So anyway, the HR person asked me to fill in some paperwork and hand it in to her. I hadn’t been to her office (the interview had been in a restaurant while it was closed) and the entrance is via one of the restaurants. Her instructions were to just ask someone who works there to show me the way as it was a bit complicated to explain. So, I went in there and asked the woman behind the bar to see HR woman. The bar woman refused to take me back there or get HR woman and took my papers saying she would hand them to HR. It was nothing I could put my finger on but felt off-putting, it was like she was annoyed by me. I felt like I should be handing the papers in myself, I definitely would have liked to thank HR in person for hiring me but I put it out of my head. Turns out bar woman was only covering a shift there and was actually my manager.

    She was a nightmare. Rude and blunt summed up her personality; she played favourites, had massive mood swings that she would take out on staff, fired someone for not knowing how to do anything when she hadn’t bothered to train her in the first place, was incredibly pedantic. Fortunately, that job was only ever meant to be temporary so I was out of there after a year.

    Reply
  144. Cheshire Cat

    I had an interview for a position almost 30 years ago, when I was new to the professional world (I’d had retail jobs before that) and had a very strong feeling that I should run. Didn’t listen to my gut, and it turned out to be the Job From Hell. I’ve only had the feeling once since then, and I didn’t take it.

    I’ve also had two very positive gut feelings about jobs, and both turned out very well for me.

    There were several jobs in between the Job From Hell and the Best Job Ever, and I didn’t have strong gut feelings about. All of them turned out to be in the middle — good in some ways & bad in others, but okay overall. I will always listen to my gut reaction because of my experiences.

    Reply
  145. Writelhd

    My husband’s experience feels like a cautionary tale to listen to your gut, which he feels he failed to do. He got laid off from his first job after getting his engineering degree, after just a couple of years because the owner got too sick to keep the consulting firm going. He looked for several months and finally took a job doing software development, because it was a job and they were offering it and he needed one, and why not try it. Two weeks after he took that job, a place he’d interviewed at earlier but had chosen someone else called him back and said they had a different opening he’d be a better fit for and offered it to him. Awesome, but bad timing! He knew in his gut it was right for him to take it, he liked the people, but talked himself out of it because it was a long commute, had terrible vacation (you get 1 week only after you’ve worked there for a year!), and because of how unprofessional it would be to quit at a place he just started. So he turned it down after serious agonizing. Well, two months later the software place let him go, said he wasn’t working out. So he spent three more months jobless, finally taking something that promised engineering but has a year and a half later only been surveying and increasingly just manual labor, super punishing hours too. He keeps applying but stopped getting interviews for engineering jobs, I suspect because his experience is getting old now and he never got manufacturing experience, and most posted engineering jobs are in manufacturing in our area. The kicker is, the job he turned down was in manufacturing and would have given him that experience, plus, the software company has pretty much laid off everybody they originally hired from what we hear, ah the irony. It’s hard for him not to feel as if not taking that job was a super stupid decision that he’s never been (and maybe never will be) able to recover from.

    Reply
    1. RVA Cat

      Please, please stop with the “never”. From the timeline I’m seeing here he is still young, plus beating himself up over this will not help at all. He got screwed by circumstances that were mostly beyond his control. Does his job have an EAP? It may help for him to talk with a counselor to cope with the negative thoughts and reframe them.

      Reply
  146. Sheworkshardforthemoney

    I responded to a job ad with a major health institution. I emailed with an HR person and arranged an interview for the very next day. I went in for my interview and was told that she, my HR contact was no longer there, no explanation as to why. The person who did interview me, barely glanced at my resume and asked when I could start. Since I wasn’t working at the time, I said right away. She walked over to two other employees who were standing off to the side and who had been staring and whispering to each other while I was being interviewed. She came back and said that the job wasn’t what was advertised and that the pay was minimum wage for a year, (no exceptions for previous experience) with no holidays or time off. Whenever I wasn’t busy I was expected to work with the persons who were now laughing behind their hands at me. Still, I agreed to start in two days time. I went home and thought about it and decided against taking the job. Then I realized my only contact information was for the HR person who no longer worked there. I didn’t even know the name of the person who interviewed me, she hadn’t introduced herself. So I had no one to tell that I wasn’t taking the job.

    Reply
  147. Leecee

    My (at the time failing company) brought in an ‘executive marketing consultant’ to help with a market research project, and his first day there each of us in the marketing department had 2-hour long “get to know you” interviews with him. Some of the weirdest questions ever, it seemed like I was re-interviewing for my job and giving away too many details about how I handled stressful situations. He was one of those fast talking gregarious people that loved to hear himself talk, and as that is an immediate turn off for me but figured I’d give him a shot.

    He turned out to be an insane douche, and I heard stories of him backstabbing our product teams, throwing people under the bus, and skulking silently on our team calls without announcing himself, until one of the callers questioned one of his methods or tasks….then he’d jump right into defend himself! I personally had a few brushes of ‘collaboration’ with him where I’d ask a question and he basically turned my question around as if I was incompetent, saying it was a project I shouldn’t even have worked on. Total narcissist/sociopath it seemed like. I sure was glad to be laid off months later, and hear they cut his services as well!

    Reply
  148. A

    In the past I have trusted my gut on several occasions to turn down potential opportunities and it has worked out well. I have avoided some terrible situations, and other times ended up with a far better opportunity that I wouldn’t have had if I just accepted what was in front of me at the time. I don’t think there ever has been a time where I listened to my gut and regretted it. The biggest example was my decision not to go to grad school for a phd. I got accepted into a few programs that were at the very bottom of my list, and since I wasn’t happy with my choices I decided not to go at all. It paid off because I ended up in a job I loved in a field I was lucky to stumble into and never would have known about otherwise.

    However, I am in one of these situations right now, and I’m getting a very strong gut feeling that I might be misreading. I just interviewed for what is essentially my ideal role at a startup and I think I did well; everything about the role and company on paper seem to sound perfect for me. But something was just off about the interview and I really just cannot figure out what it is. There aren’t any red flags I can come up with. I just get a weird vibe. Maybe its because I have always worked for giant companies and I’m nervous about a startup? Maybe I’m misreading the signals– perhaps I’m actually sad to leave my current (temp) job and could end up turning town a great opportunity only to be left with nothing when my job ends in 1 year. I really love my current job but conversion to permanent is not possible. Similar decisions in the past have given me anxiety to the point of feeling sick and having nervous breakdowns, so I’m almost hoping they reject me so I don’t have to make this decision. I don’t think I have ever hoped to be rejected from a job application before….

    Reply
    1. ArtsNerd

      Lots of startups are really bad work environments. Not all, of course. But many. If you have another round of interviews, pay close attention to the vibe you get from current employees.

      Reply
      1. A

        Yep, I think this is what worries me the most. My roommate has worked for 3 different startups in <2 years and I think she's just about had enough.

        Reply
  149. Gadfly

    I tend to listen to my gut–in my personal life I’ve just had too many things where it has been right. (Most dramatic was an antique store I just never was interested in going in, and I love antiquing. Some friends dragged me along with them once. I got a little bit into the store and then out of nowhere vomited on their rug. We apologized and everyone was being nice, and as part of that a friend asked about some amazing lamps on top of an armoire I had been next to when I vomited. Turns out they were Nazi lamps from WWII and the owners regretted they weren’t able to also get the shades… I NEVER went back there. The second most dramatic is when I tried to convince my mother to take a different route than usual and she didn’t and we were in a freak car accident–another car spinning like a top on the freeway.)

    My problem when it comes to interviews is separating my gut feeling of something is ick here or it just isn’t going to happen feeling from undervaluing myself or self sabotaging the interview by expecting it not to work/not to click and creating a self fulfilling prophecy. I respect data, and the data says I’ve got high odds of being (legally) discriminated against. So am I being reasonable or am I undermining myself to be aware of that? Hard to say. Lots of people don’t believe it and so I can’t trust their advice. Others insist that you just need to go in like you have equal chances anyway (which even if they believe, it is hard to trust them when they generally don’t face this problem and so aren’t having to deal with the risks/repercussions of this) and the ones who are in similar circumstances seem to have the same struggles I do. So while I generally trust my gut, I also know my gut is extra protective/sensitive about these things and I just don’t know. It becomes super easy to create confirmation biases in support of it afterwards.

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  150. TrainerGirl

    Between 2012 and 2013, I was laid off 3 times. After #3, I found a one-year contract position. I felt lucky because it gave me a long time to find a full-time position. I applied for a job that seemed like a great fit. The recruiter contacted me, and it was exactly what I wanted to do, except the salary was about $25k less than what I was looking for. I thanked them but said no. After a couple of weeks, I got a call back from the recruiter saying that they had spoken to several other people, and all had been interested in the position but turned it down because the salary was too low. So they decided they could meet my requirements and wanted to interview me. I was wary, because I figured that if they decided to lay someone off, it would be me because they’d raised the salary so much. I went to the interview, and was kept waiting almost an hour. Not terrible, but really unprofessional. I met with the manager and received an offer a day or two later. They seemed a bit too eager to get me to say yes. I asked for 2-3 days (the interview was on a Friday), I got a number of calls and e-mails from HR asking if I’d made a decision. I’d researched the company a bit when I applied, but this made me go back and do a more thorough review. The company had horrible reviews on GlassDoor and generally nothing good was available. I e-mailed the recruiter on Monday and turned it down. It turned out to be a great decision, because a few days later, one of the positions I’d been laid off from called and asked me back. I really liked that job, the team and my manager, so I agreed to go back. I never turned off my job board notifications, and a few months later, I saw that not only was that position posted again, so was the manager’s and two other team members. Something about that place didn’t feel right, and I’ve never regretted not taking that job.

    Reply
  151. Ketchikan9

    On a second interview, the CEO of the company did a walk through. Just poked his head in the door, said hi, a moment of small talk and then gone. I had an immediate negative reaction to the guy which I ignored because the position wasn’t reporting to him and I really hit it off with the person who would be my supervisor. Took the job, was promoted in 9 months to report to the CEO and then spent over 3 years in hell. The guy was a class A jerk. So sorry I didn’t trust my gut. (Taking the promotion was not a choice, it was the promotion or no job).
    In hiring, I’ve never been sorry when my gut said “no” and I trusted it. I have regretted ignoring my gut and saying “yes” to hires.

    Reply
  152. amy

    Yep. Yep yep yep.

    Went to an interview for a seemingly fine job where nothing in the room, and I mean nothing, felt right. Heard nothing. Weeks later there’s national news when the head of the outfit’s arrested in another town after stabbing himself to make it look like “a black guy” robbed him. Dude was maxed to the hilt on credit cards, whole thing was a trainwreck.

    Had a bad bad vibe about another job recently, too, after a good first interview and then a whole lot of hoops. Not heard about anything from there since, and I don’t expect anything terrible will happen there, but turnover was a little crazy and they were super-anxious to reassure me about work-life balance while obviously working themselves into early graves. Wasn’t at all sorry when they called to say they didn’t think I was a good fit.

    Reply
  153. Kit

    When I interviewed with my current company, I certainly would not have taken the job if I’d had other options. The interview was super weird: the former manager who was now in a completely different department and the current manager who apparently had no idea he was interviewing me that day. The former manager proceded to ask me questions off a list provided by HR, after which the actual manager told me about his own work history and accolades without asking me anything. When I went home my fiancé asked me how it went and I remember saying, “I have no idea… it felt like a bad blind date?”

    That job turned out to be awesome, and the manager was great at everything except, apparently, interviewing. He was even good at hiring!

    Reply
  154. Chaordic One

    I sort of feel like, while I can trust my gut to let me know that a position is not great, I don’t seem to be able to get to first base when I interview for a position that is great, which tells me that I need to work on my interview skills and reread some of columns here at AAM.

    I have also had my spidey senses get all tingly when there were changes in the managment of the company I worked for. It’s certainly not that I’m resistant to change (in and of itself), but that most of the time the change is not for the better. For example, in two of the last three jobs I had, things seemed to be going O.K. when my immediate supervisor resigned to work at a different company and the new supervisors were nightmares.

    Reply
  155. Overeducated

    I listened to my gut and turned down two perfectly good permanent job offers in the months I spent searching before my current job.

    One looked perfect on paper and was in a location I would have loved, but my reaction post interview was that the manager really didn’t seem to think I was qualified and it might not be a “dream job” in practice after all. I was shocked to get an offer (at a lower title and 15% less than advertised because of my “lack of experience”). Unfortunately my husband got his own job during the 6 month long hiring process and my gut said no job was worth at least a year of long distance marriage with a baby. I can’t say whether or not it was a bullet dodged for sure – a friend of mine got the job and is happy, it was better than any subsequent offers I received, so I will always wonder what if. But I also got to spend the years after with my family.

    The other was in the same metro area as my husband’s job and sounded interesting, but when it came down to it my gut said I wasn’t ready to 1) shift out of my field just a few months out of grad school and 2) put my baby in day care full time and deal with the commute (I was working part time and taking public transit) 3) for a salary that was lower than I was hoping for. Honestly I think that might have been a mistake, I think the prospects are poor enough in my field that the shift would have been good experience, and I would have adjusted to the schedule and commute.

    My current job seemed like an awesome stepping stone to a federal agency I really want to work for. We moved the family hundreds of miles and husband is job searching. Thanks to the hiring freeze and “skinny budget,” there will probably be little to no hiring for years. My gut wouldn’t have helped me there though, I wasn’t expecting this.

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  156. Sylvia

    I ignored my spidey sense once to get a “foot in the door” at a company for which I wanted to work. I was just out of college, naive, and completely clueless. I thought that if I only got my foot in the door, I could work my way up to a position that I really wanted.

    Lesson learned: If you can only get your foot in the door, it’ll be slammed on your ankle.

    Reply
  157. ZucchiniBikini

    I went against my gut when I accepted a job a few years back. To be fair, my reluctance was mostly caused by the change in life circumstances the job would (and did) entail – I was nervous, correctly as it transpired, about how much more complicated my family life would become with me moving from working at home 3ish days a week as a freelancer, to working fulltime, 4 days in the office, 1 day at home.

    That said, there were some at least orange flags about the job itself that my subconscious clearly picked up on, and led to a strong ambivalence when I got what was, by any measure, a very good offer in salary and benefits terms. I had a friend working in the same organisation who was lukewarm at best about the place. I got a weird vibe in interview from the hiring manager (this one I should’ve paid attention to , as she turned out to be a very poor boss). The organisation had some well-publicised financial woes, and senior management was signalling possibly further redundancies (which eventuated 8 months after I started in the role, and while my job wasn’t targeted, many other connected ones were, leading to an untenable increase in workload and stress).

    I took the job. I knew within four months that I’d made the wrong call, but decided to stick it out until a long-awaited family vacation to the Great Barrier Reef six months later (which the workplace had approved, and frankly, the regular income was handy in saving for it). Once I returned from that holiday, I got trapped in a cycle of not wanting to let down my much-respected colleagues and feeling a sense of obligation to the floundering organisation, so I stayed. And stayed. And may well still be there, stressed and low-level miserable, if my boss hadn’t done me the great favour of being consistently terrible enough to trigger my resignation at just before the 2.5 year mark. (I’m back to freelancing now, and so much happier).

    Long story is long – sorry! The summary is, never again will I distrust my gut when it comes to jobs or even freelance projects. I turned down a project just a few months ago because I felt strongly that it was doomed to disaster, and I’ve never regretted walking away.

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  158. Hiring Is Hard

    I’ve been on a number of hiring committees, and I remember two times in specific where I’ve had strong gut feelings. In one case, we had a candidate that I really liked who did really great on our technical test, and I had s gut feeling that we should hire them immediately. I had to fight a little against a couple of people who liked another candidate, but I’m glad I did, because we did hire the candidate, who’s been fantastic. In the other case, I had a gut feeling about a different candidate that I was not impressed with, but we were desperate to find someone so the other members of the team were convinced they’d do OK. We ended up having to let them go after six months when nothing was being done. Based on those two experiences, I’ve been much more confident in going with my gut since then.

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  159. 221 Baker St.

    Hm… Right now I finished freaking out over my pay stubs at my new job. I’ve had a horrible feeling I was missing something or that something wasn’t adding up. I tried setting up my budget to try and pay off some student loans only to find things literally weren’t adding up. It feels like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and all I can do is see what I can get finished before the company most likely closes up shop and dumps the employees after their taxpayer subsidized corporate welfare runs out.

    It’s standard practice to screw over employees and women are really hurt when we’re paid less than we’re worth. As soon as a company burns through the incentives they pull up stakes and run off, leaving employees with zero notice. I went through three interviews, showed them my certification, discussed my skill set at length, and even went over my long term plan to work in this area for my career. Hell, I’m overqualified with my degree and the conflicting information I was told by my hiring manager really made me worry. Now I’ll be lucky to get some sleep tonight.

    I was finally able to get my first three pay stubs and my rate is less than I signed on for. However, since I haven’t been there long enough to compare the overall total to what the offer letter states since it’s a weird hybrid hourly/salary model, I have to ask the HR people we have NO phone number for to explain the pay stub break down like I’m 5.

    I’m angry and hurt – but figure since I’m a woman I’ll never really get paid what I’m worth anyway no matter how hard I work. It’s infuriating and I hate the state I live in so much. No matter what I do I get screwed over royally. Unfortunately I never heard back from another company I interviewed for so I had to take this job.

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  160. Kp

    I wish I had listened to my gut before taking my soon-to-be precious position. I had an internal recommendation from someone I used to work with, so my interviews were shockingly easy (too easy) and felt more like the hiring manager and HR were just tying to sell the company to me rather than fully understand my career path and skills.

    First huge red flag came when I started and was asked to organize a 150+ person event by myself (that is neither something I have done in the past and had expressed explicit concern over in interviews with my new manager who promised I would not have to do any event planning). I should have left the company then but still stayed on, hoping it would be a good experience. Things turned out fine with the even after much stress, but two months later my manager burned out and left abruptly one day. Shortly thereafter our team of 7 dropped down to a team of 2 without any additional help.

    Things started to get weird, as asking my new de facto manager who was the CEO for clarifying roles and helping me prioritize an overloaded workload only added to the ambiguity. He would tell me things like ” work on project A but you still need to do projects B, C, and D at least somewhat.”

    Last straw came when another person joined our team from another department entirely. She told me and my marketing coworker the CEO had appointed her as our new acting manager. As he traveled a lot during that time, I was suspicious about this but he was not around to clarify things and did not respond to emails so we continued on like this for a few months. One day I was asked by HR to work on a project when I was already overloaded with something else so I looped in my new manager explaining she has prioritized another project for me and we could discuss afterwards to see where I could help. HR simply responded they were not at all aware she was my manager. At this point I started getting suspicious and organized a meeting with me, this new woman, HR and the CEO to ask point blank how the team was supposed to be run and who I was expected to report to. It came out that this woman (who had already tried to change my title and job description with me) was NOT at all my manager but also expected to report to the CEO!

    I should have left countless times before now, but I can’t stress enough that strange sinking feeling I got even when I was interviewing and when I accepted the offer and quit my previous job, which I had loved.

    Reply
  161. EuropeanConsultant

    I don’t believe in “guts”. Guts are normally about liking someone or not. They can result from prejudices. The fact that someone comes across as friendly and extrovert and the other person is more of an introvert doesn’t have to mean the former will be better for the job than the latter, be more reliable, deliver better results. And yet research tells us it’s normally interpreted like that.

    As a person who is not very good with face expressions/ appearing friendly, but who, according to all reviews exceeds all expectations when working, that’s a huge problem for me.

    I had one job where after the interview I was sure the manager I had talked to was an incredible jerk. It was clear that the job had a huge potential of turning into a nightmare. I accepted the offer because I really needed a job. The job resulted horrible and I left after 3 months with a strong depression. But then, it wasn’t about “guts”, the guy just gave me reasons to think he’s a jerk so I logically expected him to be one.

    Reply
    1. Gadfly

      Except that usually is a huge part of “gut”–picking up on signs that your logical brain isn’t seeing. That can be a problem because of biases, but it also can be a matter of subtle clues as opposed to obvious ones. Some red flags can’t be seen with the naked eye, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see (or feel) them.

      Reply
    2. Kate

      I have to disagree with you. In my experience, and the experiences of most of the commenters here as shown by their comments on this post, gut instinct is very real and should be listened to. In the book “The Gift of Fear” the author explains that gut instinct isn’t about magical non-existent things. It comes from minor cues that your conscious brain is too busy to pick up on.

      In an interview for instance, you are probably too busy thinking about what you are saying to notice the interviewer’s impatient foot tapping on a conscious level. You might unconsciously notice it and get a general “bad feeling”. But later on you might find out that the interviewer, your boss is a very impatient, easily frustrated person.

      The author includes numerous real life examples in his book to show this.

      Reply
      1. EuropeanConsultant

        “In my experience, and the experiences of most of the commenters here as shown by their comments on this post, gut instinct is very real and should be listened to.”

        Half of the comments here is about “the guts” being wrong :)

        Reply
        1. EuropeanConsultant

          And some part is not about “guts” at all, it’s about common sense. If someone offers you a job for example, but without telling you how much you will be paid… That’s not guts, you should reject the offer based on your common sense.

          Reply
  162. dg

    I had a boss I really liked, who flattered me and treated me like a peer. All I ever heard was how nice it was to have someone with a similar skill set as him, and how he finally had a “real” teapot designer to bounce ideas off of. (The other teapot designers on the team were junior.)

    He relied on me for everything, to the point where he was no longer doing his job— I was. And every time I was given feedback by him, it was about how I was doing a wonderful job, but everyone else on our team and the executive team at our company thought I was full of myself, or hadn’t proven myself, and that no matter what he said or did, they didn’t understand how great or valuable I was— only he did.

    Of course, later on it turned out he was deliberately bad-mouthing me to his bosses and to the heads of other teams: he was afraid I was going to get transferred onto a more prestigious project, or get promoted above him, and that he was going to be stuck doing all of the work he was actually supposed to be doing.

    I refused to believe he would be like this until the head of a different team, a woman I’d become friends with, took me out to coffee and showed me internal IM conversations between her and my boss, where he was trying to tell her I was delusional and a bad worker, and that I’d just be a hinderance to her team were I to transfer.

    It was like being in an abusive relationship. I’ve never been gaslit like that at work before. I ran into him at a conference once, after I quit, and I didn’t even know what to say to him. I think, to this day, he has no idea that I know he tried to destroy my prospects at our company.

    Reply
  163. A Bag of Jedi Mind Tricks

    Here is a true story about following your gut feeling. I have a friend who some years back had an early morning interview at a company. However, she did not got to the interview. She said she just was not feeling it. Well, turns out, listening to her gut LITERALLY saved her life. It was September 11, 2001, the Company was in the World Trade Center and was one of the companies that lost all their people that were in the office that morning. My Friend’s interview would have been at the time of the attacks.

    Reply
  164. Michael Carmichael

    In my last job search, I went with my gut when choosing between two offers – I had an offer on the table from one company, but there were so many red flags: it was 30+ miles away, it seemed like it was expected you’d still be at work at 7 pm most nights (can’t recall how that came up), and it involved working with clients who couldn’t get the product to work. I didn’t quite have an offer in hand from my current job and had been unemployed for four months, so was pretty desperate – but the red flags were too numerous and I turned it down hoping for an offer from my current workplace. I’m so glad I don’t have that horrible commute and probably awful job making half what I make now!

    I had a funny gut failure in a hiring experience years ago – I was asked (at age 23 or so I think) to hire my replacement, a legal assistant at a DC law firm. That job was nuts. We worked 16-hour days, did things that were clearly (even to us naive recent grads) at a minimum unethical, possibly even illegal, were shipped off to Detroit for weeks at a time – it was not a great job, but the pay was good because there was so much overtime. I interviewed a bunch of obvious losers (sample quote, when asked, why do you want to work here? “I don’t, but my mom says I have to get a job for the summer.”)

    Finally found an experienced legal assistant from another DC firm who seemed perfect. I didn’t sugarcoat the position and he seemed fine with the hours, travel, stress (never quite knowing what or how you were supposed to get certain things done). He said he was bored and wanted more of a challenge. They hired him on my recommendation.

    Fast forward two months – I heard from one of my former co-workers that he just disappeared without a trace. Apparently he was on a stint in Detroit, and just got on a plane and left, no word to anyone. So my gut was totally wrong – but I was very young so who knows, there could have been many glaring flags I missed!

    Reply
  165. Lady Bug

    A fw years ago I was unemployed and interviewed with a solo attorney. He offered me the job during the interview, but something just seemed sketchy about the firm. I told him I needed a few days to think about it. 2 days later he pulled the offer because someone else had accepted an offer from him.

    Turns out about a month later he was suspended from the practice of law for a year for mishandling client funds. I ended up finding my current job a few weeks later, which I love.

    Reply
  166. Whimsy and Sparke

    I once had a bad gut feeling that I ignored. I did my research and couldn’t find anything out there to the contrary and ended taking the job, dismissing the feeling since I had been out of work for a long time and the salary was really good, in the field I wanted and the job allowed me to move where I wanted to move to.

    Unluckily for me – the position and the people were simply awful. Everyone was miserable, the hours were ridiculous, the job wasn’t what they told me it would be (I learned a lot about asking the RIGHT questions during an interview AND to also be wary: interviewers can also lie. *ugh* That is something they did across the board.)

    While I was working there, the first review came out about the place online and it was scathing. Incidentally, it also meshed with everything that I was experiencing in the office. I ended up leaving after a brief 3 month stint. Luckily, I was staying with a friend and didn’t move all of my stuff – I was able to move back to where I was prior to getting this job.

    A huge lesson was learned from that job. I will not be ignoring any gut feelings in the future.

    Reply
  167. Swimmergurl

    I was unemployed and ignored my gut feelings about an employer. When I asked about their plan for a major undertaking, they said, “We’re redoing everything by February.” And I pumped them for more specifics but failed to get any. The department had an executive, a manager and three team members at the time, so there was no reason why they shouldn’t have at least a rudimentary plan for such a major undertaking. My impression was they were a bit disorganized and likely, had executives who lacked management skills. (A common occurrence in my field actually!)

    Boy, was that impression right! The major undertaking was WAY behind, and our executive was a screamer and had emotional meltdowns all the time. The manager spent half the time calming the executive down, and we all walked on eggshells, waiting for the next explosion. I honestly think the executive just didn’t know how to create an annual project plan or a budget and how to set deadlines and expectations. Unfortunately, it happens a lot in my field…someone gets promoted based on their age or ability to do task-based work, but then fails to be a competent manager.

    Reply
  168. Trust Your Instincts

    I was in a terrible place with a job that gave me four managers in four three years, many coworkers had been made redundant and there was a strong chance that I would be next. I reached out to a former colleague to see if she had any referrals she could give me; over the course of lunch, she related that her small start-up seemed to be in a rut and they needed someone at my level to get them where they wanted to go. When I met with her CTO, he made several borderline racist comments about some of the young staff — I should have walked out at that moment, but I was desperate for this to be the right opportunity, and wanted out of my current situation very badly. I lasted six months, because that wasn’t the only serious problem in her company, none of which she was honest with me about. (Also lesson: don’t go work for friends.) It was the second time I knew something was not right with a company and I ignored it and it made me miserable and ended badly. I have gotten smarter, and the last time i was job hunting, ended two interview cycles where all my alarm bells were going off, and I love my current job and hope to be here for a very long time.

    Reply
  169. Ashlee

    A few years ago, I did a couple of phone interviews with a recruitment agency for a position in another city. When they finally wanted me to come out to interview in person, I had to foot the bill for that (even though I was a 12 hour drive away). I rented a car and went out for the interview. It went okay. My would-be boss seemed nice enough but something about the other guy in the interview (the GM I think) struck me as creepy. While I was in town I also dropped off resumes and cover letters in person to two other places.
    I ended up getting the job and, after some coaxing from the recruiter, I eventually accepted the position, though I didn’t really want it. I’d been looking for work for about two months though, and they were offering a permanent position with benefits.
    So I moved myself and got ready to start. I didn’t like the new city, but I’d put myself into so much debt by moving there that I felt a bit trapped. It was also nice to have a job again!
    On my first day I walked into that job and just KNEW that I’d made a mistake. My new boss and the GM weren’t there that day. The only other woman I saw in the entire place was the receptionist, and she looked incredibly miserable to be there. After work, I went home to the temporary housing I was in I cried. People hadn’t been mean or anything, but I just had a horrible feeling that I’d made the wrong choice on that job. My dad called me to see how my first day was and I couldn’t even lie to him–I was so certain I shouldn’t have taken it. He told me I could move home again if I needed to, but that just felt like failing.
    I ended up quitting that job in the first week. It’s not ideal, I know, and it’s definitely not something I’d ever done before (or since). The employer was gracious about it (hell, they didn’t invest in moving me there anyway!) but the recruiter was horrid. He called me to scream and tell me how unprofessional I was. I refrained from pointing out the irony.
    Amazingly, I ended up staying in that city for a while. Of the two job applications I delivered in person, one of them called me for an interview. They’d only planned on looking locally, because the job required some familiarity with the region, but since I’d taken the time to hand-deliver my resume they said they had a feeling they should meet with me.
    I felt an instant connection with both of the interviewers, and the job itself sounded like just the right mix of challenging and fulfilling. They offered me the position the next day. They’d matched the salary the last place had offered me, but this was a contract position with no benefits. My gut told me that THIS one was a good choice; they were people I wanted to work with, and that job was something that I would excel in. I took it, and I ended up loving it.
    My boss ended up being fantastic, my coworkers became good friends, and I still keep in touch with many of them. That job helped open doors for me and I’ve been steadily employed ever since. About mid-way through my contract, I learned that my old employer was already looking to replace my replacement. Apparently they have a lot of trouble retaining staff there, and I really feel like I dodged a bullet!
    So sometimes you do have to go with your gut!

    Reply
  170. Merula

    This is one of those “my gut was completely wrong” examples.
    I was in custom teapot sales, and I had been promised advancement (hired into the position with “this department is growing; we’re going to need an assistant manager and I want it to be you”), received stellar reviews, everything looked great. So, when FOUR sales manager positions opened up and my manager encouraged me to apply for all of them, I did. I didn’t get a single one; they all went to men and three of the four had distinctly less experience than me.
    So, that manager (now grandboss) says “I’m sorry, I know you’re disappointed. I think you’d be a better fit for a senior sales consultant-type role. I’m working to get you that, it won’t be now (September), but definitely before January.” This was nonsensical; our reviews were always in February with promotions effective in April. But I figured he was trying and waited it out. That February, newboss downgraded me and never mentioned the promotion; oldboss never told him about our conversation.
    So I interviewed for advanced teapot design roles in that same division, because I really liked what they did. Didn’t get a single one, again 2 of 3 went to less experienced men.
    So when I heard about this almost-entirely-unrelated job in teapot systems and spout design, I went for it SOLELY to get out of that situation. I really wanted to stay, I wanted those manager or senior consultant roles way more than teapot systems, but I wanted to send a message. I could not have been more wrong. My job now is freaking AMAZING, far lower stress, great people, and I’m in a position to have major influence on the teapot salespeople to do things better.
    Thank goodness for that terrible environment, for missing out on those roles I KNEW I wanted. I would never have ended up in this far better place without that experience.
    (And, I get to enjoy watching the less-experienced men falter because of their lack of experience, from a safe distance.)

    Reply
    1. Joseba

      Thanks for this post. I’m currently applying for jobs in the field I’ve been working in for almost 2 years already, which is, however, strongly dominated by men – hardly any women holding higher positions – and when I get rejections after interviews which normally go well or very well I always feel so bad.

      Reply
  171. Dienna Howard

    I wish my gut instincts were working this past late summer/early fall.

    I interviewed for a job at a nonprofit that seemed perfect to me. They seemed so friendly, laid-back, and kind. The pace of the job and its cause were a 180 from the job I was ready to move on from. I don’t recall them really interviewing me, they told me about the organization, told me they wanted me on the spot, and gave me a bunch of freebies before I left. It felt good being wanted. I gave the previous job three weeks’ notice (I was going on vacation during that time, that’s why the extra week of notice), trained people on my duties, and moved on. If I could turn back time…

    When I started at the nonprofit, I ran late the first day because of the bus (sigh). I contacted the person who I was report to, apologizing for being late the first day and setting a poor example on my first day, and she replied back that she was worried I was calling to say I decided not to take the job. I was left alone a majority of the time (the woman whom I was to report to was rarely there), there didn’t seem to be a structured schedule (my former therapist told me that I needed to maintain routine, and she was correct), hardly had any proper training, barely had a computer to work with, and they misspelled my name for my e-mail address (“Vienna [at] domain [dot] org” instead of “Dienna [at] domain [dot] org”). I also had to field many calls and requests that I didn’t know the answers to. What rubbed me the wrong way was that a group of Deaf teenage volunteers came in one day but no one provided them with a proper interpreter. The way we communicated with them was through gesturing, pointing, writing, and my rudimentary fingerspelling. They kept coming to me with questions because I was the only one who made an effort to sign to them, albeit poorly, but I didn’t know the answers. I felt bad for those kids. They deserved better.

    I resigned at the end of that week without anything else lined up. It was too disorganized and I need structure, guidance, and routine. While I don’t regret leaving my previous job since I was ready for a new opportunity, I regret taking that other job. I’ve struggled to find a proper full-time permanent job since, have bounced around at different temp assignments, don’t qualify for unemployment, and may be evicted from my apartment. A lesson was learned from that: If a job seems desperate to hire me on the spot, doesn’t properly interview me or check my references, and plies me with gifts, then it’s too good to be true.

    Reply
  172. Capt. Dunkirk

    This isn’t quite in the area of job searching per se, but it is tangentially related:
    One time, when I was about 18 or 19, I was at a local gas station filling my car up and the woman on the other side of the pump started talking to me in a very friendly, almost flirty way – though she was probably at least a decade my senior, so it didn’t even cross my mind that she could be hitting on me.
    She asked me if I lived nearby and where I worked or went to school. I mentioned I was taking some college classes but didn’t mention my part-time job. She said her husband and she were always looking to hire “young men” like me for good pay. To be honest, I was naively intrigued by this because I did want to get a better job. However, my gut was telling me the whole thing was a bit too weird and I should just be on my way. I thanked her for the offer but and made up some fluff about how I was too busy with school to take on a job.

    It was only years later, looking back, that I realized she was probably scouting for potential adult movie actors. I wish I had asked for more details just for curiosity’s sake!

    Reply
  173. Jill

    My instincts are usually spot on. We interviewed only 2 people for a position under me. I work in a very professional office (suits, reporting directly to the Board, and so on). One candidate was a total no so the second person’s name was passed up to my Director. Candidate was called in for a 2nd interview and came in, but dressed in street clothes and chatting up people in the hallways and our office like she was socializing. Weird.

    So Director and I bring her to the conference room and start asking our serious questions and she’s looking at us like we are just odd as cod. Finally, Director says, ‘Well, we appreciate you taking the time for a second interview” and she says, in total shock, “This was an interview???” So we said, “Excuse us a moment…,” went into a private office and gave each other a WTF reaction.

    We’re both thinking we are about to dodge a total bullet but then Director decides to call HR to see if they did a background/reference check. Turns out they FORGOT to call Candidate and tell her we wanted a second interview. But sheer coincidence she is friends with many employees here and came to the building to drop off a birthday gift and just say hi to some folks. She was mortified to discover that she was being interviewed – and in street clothes, and answering us in less than professional verbiage, no less.

    We offered her the job and she’s been here two years. I wouldn’t know what I’d do without her! I do trust my gut – but your gut is just a “heads up” that something is off. That “something” is worth paying attention to, but it might not necessarily be something grim.

    Reply
  174. NaoNao

    Years ago (like, almost 10 years ago now) I answered an ad in the local “alternative” rag for a “research assistant” (although I knew it would likely be a call center job, as our town in the NorthEast US was a *huge* center for collections and other types of call centers). I arrived at the location to go to the interview, and entering the building, two things happened:
    My heart sank and I felt extremely tearful and let down for no explainable reason (the place was clean, people seemed normal, the buzz of everyday activity was clear)
    I locked eyes with a man who was sitting on the call center floor, and instantly felt as if I had been electrocuted by the sting of Cupid’s Arrow, but with a note of sorrow, somehow.

    I took the job, which was in payday loan collections and it was really, really hard and traumatizing. I was the only female (in a shop of almost all men) who consistently made the bonus “row” and my boss begged me to stay on part time remotely when I left, as I was his “secret weapon”. However, it was the stuff of nightmares. 9 hour days, on phones, cold calling debtors. It was so emotionally draining and stressful that by the time I got out, I could only feel two emotions: rage, and defeat.

    My “work bestie” and I would take nips of bourbon on our lunch break to get through the day towards the end of my time there. Also, side note, that man I locked eyes with I did wind up having a very intense (very short lived) fling with, but…he wasn’t completely available, shall we say.

    I will say that even though my gut was right on both counts, I am very grateful for that job. It was my first “office” job of any kind and I learned invaluable skills, and the call center and collections experience were things I could and did parlay into bigger and better things little by little, and now I’m in a great job I love. So I listened to my gut and it was right, but also it wasn’t *all* bad.

    Reply
  175. mf

    Yes, in my previous job. Had a gut feeling when I interviewed for it. My soon-to-be manager interviewed me for two hours (WAY too long) and really lacked the ability to stay on track with a conversation. (She’s a rambler.) I didn’t have a good gut feeling about it but ignored the red flags and accepted the job. Turns out, she’s the kind of person who has no respect for anyone else’s time other than her. (Hence:-the two hour interview.)

    Reply
  176. Tracy Codes Medical Charts

    I ignored my gut once when job hunting. I had been laid off of a job I’d been at for 5 years and was at the point in my search where I had an offer from company A and an offer was eminent from company B. Company A was not my first choice to work at. The office was a giant cubicle farm with such low walls that everyone was looking into everyone else’s face all day. You needed a key to use the rest room (don’t know why, but that bothered me). I got what I can only describe as a “weird” vibe from the man who would be his boss and his odd sidekick. And they absolutely refused to give me a written offer letter. Still, I went with them because the other company couldn’t make the hiring process any quicker. I went against every fiber of my being when I took that job. I did not like it; it was a giant clique. Within a month of being hired, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. I was supposed to be off for 6 weeks but ended up going back after 4 weeks. After being at work for 4 days, I realized I hadn’t been ready to come back so I explained that to my boss and took off three more days. I came back to a write-up for excessive time off. A month later I was told things weren’t working out and that was that. No severance or anything.

    Reply
  177. Quinalla

    The two real jobs I’ve had in my life, I hit it off right away with all the folks who interviewed me and felt my gut reaction for the most part was spot on. I’ve had bad gut reactions to people, but never got the chance to verify if I was right as either they or I did not follow up.

    In hiring though, every time I’ve ignored a gut feeling about someone not being a good fit I’ve regretted it. Luckily for me, its just been co-ops who are 3-6 month employees anyway and none were so bad that we fired them, but definitely don’t ignore those gut feelings, I at least examine them fully and try to gather more information or talk to more candidates before making a decision.

    I’ve been trying to pay attention to my gut more and more here in the last couple years and it has paid off. My gut feeling isn’t always right, but it is nearly always right that there is something I need to pay more attention to or get more information about. Gut feelings should not always be acted on immediately, but they should not be ignored in my experience!

    Reply
  178. Slow Gin Lizz

    I have a gut feeling that my current company will not last another year. The president of 30 years has just retired and the guy taking over from him is not at all computer-savvy and seems to have a LOT of anxiety…he worries about a lot of things that are really unimportant, like what will happen if he changes info in the database and the info is wrong. (You know what will happen? Someone will notice it’s wrong and fix it. It is seriously not a big deal.) Not to mention he is not a very effective manager – or at least not very effective at managing me. He is a huge part of why I was seeking other employment opportunities, and hey, my last day is next Friday! Yay!

    Reply
    1. Slow Gin Lizz

      I should mention that I don’t blame the guy taking over for his anxiety. I would have a lot of anxiety about it too, which is why I’m not taking over myself.

      Reply
  179. Itsasmallworld

    I am, unfortunately, in a situation where I should have listened to my gut. I knew my coworker had a reputation (in a very small, close-knit field in the arts) for being difficult. Nobody has stayed working with her for more than a year or two. When the opening happened the first time, I applied but canceled because I couldn’t stand the thought of working with her. That opening was a no hire. A few months later, it was posted again, and due to circumstances in my own job search and current position, I applied again. Through the whole process, my gut was screaming, “Don’t do it! If you apply, you’ll win it and have to take it!” Well, I was runner up. You never saw someone so happy not to get a job. I skipped out of there lighter than air. 3 weeks later they called to tell me that the winner turned them down. I wrestled with whether I should accept. My gut said no. Everyone around me said yes. I accepted. Moved my family on 6 weeks notice to start the season.

    It was a nightmare from the beginning. Coworker had been offered my superior role, and turned it down, seemingly out of spite. She was withholding of information, condescending, judgmental, controlling, and simply unwilling to let me establish a leadership role without constant conflict, including yelling and crying over minor changes I tried to make. Your basic bullying nightmare. My naive belief that keeping my head down and doing my work would be enough bit me in the ass. Coworker had the head honcho on her side, cast aspersions on my work that were not true, complained that I wasn’t treating her like and equal, but that I also wasn’t leading enough.

    Long story short (too late), I was denied tenure and am out of a job at the end of the season. Head honcho has already appointed her to the leadership position starting next season, which he tried to do twice before I came. Together with the union (I have huge support from them and the vast majority of the artistic staff) we tried to appeal for more time to fix what is clearly an HR problem and not a performance problem, but we were denied. There’s more lies, abuse, and palace intrigue, but that’s the gist.

    I should have listened to my gut and run screaming from this job, if not before they made an offer, then from the first screaming tirade. Everyone told me to give it a chance, but this was exactly what I feared when the offer was made. I was told I was worrying too much. Now, this may ruin my career, cripple my family, and has already given me PTSD and made my anxiety spike. Meanwhile there are only three openings in the states for my job right now, two of which will be very hotly contested, and the third which is a substantial pay cut. Wish me luck!

    Reply
  180. Maleficent

    #1. My gut was right:

    I had a feeling that my current job, which my parents and friends were all gung-ho about me taking for the sheer name/resume value of it (a job at a very famous theme park in central Florida), would not be a good fit for me. I was hesitant because I knew it would probably put my portfolio development on pause (we aren’t allowed to claim that the work we do is our own, just that it belongs to the, uh, Galt Kidney Company), I knew that the particular job I was doing is something that mostly retirees and schoolteachers in the area do for extra money, and I knew that it would be extremely repetitive, amongst other issues.

    But it was the only job option I had at the time, so I took it.

    Turns out: my gut was 100% right. It burned me out, interacting with hundreds and thousands of guests each day made me cynical and misanthropic, it put the company in a new (negative) lens for me (not entirely, but at least with respect to my particular line of business), it gave me an RSI, it made me fantasize about leaving so many times, driving in the area gave me a ton of anxiety, and I literally begged my dad to come get me two weeks early.

    #2. My gut was wrong:

    This summer, I applied for two jobs at non-profit institutions that are very well-known and very similar, not only in purpose and structure, but also in name, as it happens. The jobs (one of which was “summer teapot painting intern” and the other was “campus teapot painter”) would have been mostly identical, or so I thought.

    I applied to X first, then Y. Y is more famous, and for that reason alone, I was kind of hoping for that job more so than X. But X’s application deadline and interview and response were all sooner, and X still had a lot of really cool benefits. I happily accepted the job with X but was still a bit disappointed that Y had never even responded to me.

    Well, three weeks later, Y *did* respond to me. They wanted to interview me… and I was so pissed! I felt like I had unintentionally bypassed what (I thought) would be an awesome opportunity with this really prestigious organization just by having gotten another offer first.

    I tried to mitigate my disappointment by digging deeper into the position at Y, thinking maybe I could find something that would make me feel better about having to turn it down.

    Well, guess what — I found a LOT of things.

    I realized that I had either forgotten about or not done enough due diligence about certain key details of the job with Y that were in some cases absolute dealbreakers and in some cases just negatives. One key thing was the difference between “summer teapot painting intern” and “campus teapot painter.” The former involved sharing the responsibility with several others, but campus teapot painter meant I had 100% of the teapot painting responsibility, which I really, really wanted and could prove I was ready for. Another VERY key thing was the pay: Y’s pay for that summer position, for the same amount of time as X’s position, was ONE-THIRD less! There were other things, too, like their strict rules about uniforms, a worse location, etc. It made me really grateful that I had gotten the job with X. I’m so glad I didn’t follow my gut on that one.

    Reply
  181. Newbie

    I had the opposite happen to me. Usually, when I have a gut instinct – I follow it and it will turn out to be good in the long run. My husband even will jokingly ask me some times when he has a difficult decision to make if my instincts are speaking to me, because he has been amazed by it a couple of times.

    Unfortunately, it did me wrong at the job I am currently at. I was at my former job for over 10 years, and while I loved and adored by boss, and really enjoyed my job and company overall – I was getting severely burned out doing the job of 2-3 people regularly, and then the layoffs started, so it just got worse. I had a horrible commute, and just reached a breaking point where it was affecting my sleep and therefore health.

    I started looking and was extremely choosy. I looked for more than a year and a half. Then, I found two different jobs that were pretty much what I was already doing, in my same specialized industry, but much, much closer to home. While I was going through the interview process for both (multiple rounds of calls and in person interviews) this new option popped up. A recruiter that had previously contacted me reached out with “the perfect job for me”. It was about 5 miles from home, the correct position/title, incredible benefits, and further, was a newly created position for a company that was bringing on a new head honcho whom I would support. I have realized in my career, I do very well in newly created positions, because I am able to help define what the job description should really look like, and set up processes and procedures, etc. I took it as a possible sign, and went to the first interview (in-person) with an open mind and a bunch of questions, since I could absolutely be choosy in this situation. The interview went extremely well, and the job literally checked all of the “must haves’ on my required and also wish list. I later had a follow up call with new head honcho to ferret each other out before moving forward. It all went so well, and I only had good, positive feelings about this surprise opportunity, that when they called later to offer me a position – with a 13% pay increase, annual bonus, and other awesome benefits – I understood this was what I must have been waiting on for so long. Did I mention it is about 5 miles from my house??!! I accept, get through my lengthy notice period, and start. On day #2 at new job, I actually realize this is a horrible mistake, and oh my gosh what next?? By week #3, I actually reach out to the recruiter for one of the other positions I had been a finalist for, and it was filled. I was going home crying it was so awful and the person that had hired me, turns out is a yeller. She likes to be verbally abusive, and when you do not fall in line – creates what I can only describe as a horrific, hostile work environment. I finally now know what that term means. I have been here for almost 10 months, because I have struggled to try to stay until this somehow got better. I have tried everything in my toolbox to make it better. I now know most of the other employees are miserable, and hate this company. The turnover is unreal, and there are never any communications when someone leaves, or is let go, so the work in our office suffers tremendously because folks are forever waiting on someone else to finish their part of a project, in order to finalize it, only to later find out it was not done, and has been completely dropped. I fell into a bad place emotionally, and really started to think there was something wrong with me, but I have realized the full extent of this dysfunction. I have been looking for the last couple of months, and have some promising things happening recently, so I am just trying to hang on for now. I will say, this has left me very scarred – and I am not sure now when I can trust that little voice in my head when it says “this is a good thing for you – do it!”. It will take a while, I am sure.

    Reply

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