3 Mistakes Job Seekers Make When They’re Desperate For A New Job

Desperate job seekers are likely to abandon their core values and ignore red flags which leads them.


Heidi Lynne Kurter

2 years ago | 5 min read

It’s no surprise that job seekers still feel inferior during the interview process despite it being a candidate-driven market. Traditionally, employers dominated an interview using interrogative tactics. They knew they held the power because jobs were scarce and they were able to control the process.

However, times have drastically changed. The pandemic has created high levels of unemployment which has since led to one of the most competitive candidate-favored markets in the last 20 years.

In fact, candidates are now qualifying companies based on flexible working hours, remote work opportunities, company culture, professional growth, and benefits, to name a few.

Yet, many job seekers are desperate for a job that they overlook the power they hold. As such, desperation leads them to join a toxic company. The consequence of doing so wreaks havoc on one’s mental health, happiness and in some instances, leads to employees abandoning an industry altogether. All of this could’ve been prevented had they known what mistakes they’re making as they search and interview for a new job.

Here are three mistakes job seekers make out of desperation.

Ignoring Red Flags During The Interview

It’s easy to overlook a potentially toxic opportunity if you don’t know what red flags you’re looking for during an interview. As someone who has worked in a toxic workplace, I saw the glaring red flags during the interview but ignored them.

I was desperate for a job and believed the red flags I experienced wouldn’t be that bad when joining the company. It turns out, those red flags became the very things that destroyed my mental health, led me to leave the company, and reconsider my career path entirely.

Here are some red flags to be aware of during an interview:

  • Interviewer’s body language shows they’re not paying attention to you or they’re disinterested in what you have to say (rolling their eyes, looks annoyed, seems uncomfortable, etc...)
  • They avoid answering questions, gives vague responses or talks in circles
  • They give a generic answer in an attempt to satisfy you when asked about the culture
  • They contradict themselves and/or each interviewer contradicts one another
  • They complain about their own employees and/or bash previous employees in this role
  • There’s no career path or goals in place
  • They’re unable to clearly explain the responsibilities or expectations of the role
  • The interview process is disorganized and chaotic; everyone’s on different pages and it’s clear they haven’t communicated
  • There’s no onboarding or training plan in place to ensure you’re set up for success
  • The hiring manager dominates the interview with no time for you to ask questions
  • The interviewer shows up late or reschedules interviews last minute

Although this isn’t a conclusive list, it gives you an idea of what to look for when interviewing. Acknowledging red flags that arise during the interview allows you to make an informed decision on whether or not this is the right opportunity for you.

While a single red flag from the list above may not always indicate a problem, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting into so you’re not blindsided by patterns or behaviors, if you should join the company.

Failing To Research The Company

Researching a potential employer is more than Googling the company name and seeing what star rating they hold. Taking the time to thoroughly research a company has many benefits.

Not only does it give you more confidence and make you more prepared for the interview, but it gives you a better understanding of whether or not the company is a right fit for you. Furthermore, you’ll quickly realize if the company is misaligned with your values and where they stand in terms of social injustice.

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Here are some valuable ways to research a potential employer:

  • Visit their LinkedIn business page to see what the average tenure of an employee is
  • Read both the negative and positive reviews on Glassdoor, Indeed, InHerSight, Kununu, and other review sites
  • Research the hiring manager, executives and team members on LinkedIn. This is a great way to find common ground with individuals you’ll be interviewing with as well as seeing how they recognize their team and engage with others on the platform.
  • Learn about the company’s core values, mission and vision to see if they’re aligned with what you’re looking for
  • Check the company’s social media to see how they interact with others who comment on their posts as well as how they respond to negative reviews, if at all

If it’s a startup, make sure to research the founder individually to see what other agencies they’ve owned. I once made a mistake accepting a position that reported to the founder without researching his former agency.

It wasn’t until after I joined his company that I quickly learned the founder had a terrible reputation in the industry for mistreating others. A quick Google search of his name provided shocking feedback regarding his mistreatment of clients and employees.

Had I done my research before joining the company, it would’ve saved me from joining a toxic workplace. Corporate Responsibility Magazine revealed that 69% of job seekers would not take a job with a company that has a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed.

Not Asking The Right Questions

Most job seekers don’t realize that a job interview is a two-way street. The interview is an opportunity for the candidate and employer to learn more about each other and see if they’re a good match.

The unfortunate reality is that candidates still view the interview as a desperate attempt to sell themselves and win over the employer while neglecting the glaring red flags that exist within the company.

Failing to ask the right questions is the quickest way to find yourself in a toxic workplace. The most common mistake job seekers make is asking generic interview questions or having no questions prepared at all. The interview is the time to uncover the most important pieces of the role, company culture and what the relationship with their manager and team will be like. Both the candidate and the employer should walk away from the interview feeling confident in whether or not they’re going to move forward.

Here are a few examples of targeted questions to ask during an interview:

  • What happened to the previous person in this position? How long were they in this position before leaving? What about the person before that?
  • I noticed a few online reviews mentioned a gossip culture from the top and a toxic work environment. Can you tell me more about that and how you’re working to fix that?
  • How do you deliver feedback? How do you prefer to receive feedback?
  • How is the feedback employees give utilized to improve the overall employee experience?

Don’t be afraid to dig deeper into an interviewer’s response. After an interview, take the time to process the responses you’ve received as well as any doubts, questions or concerns you may have.

Your next step should be to reach out to the recruiter via email to get those questions answered. The most important thing is that you make a decision you feel good about with all the facts in front of you rather than making one out of desperation.


Created by

Heidi Lynne Kurter

Heidi Lynne Kurter is a Workplace Culture Consultant and Leadership Coach helping agencies cultivate intentionally inclusive workplace cultures that turn employees into evangelists. In addition, she transforms managers into strong and impactful leaders. Heidi is also a Forbes Senior Contributor where she writes extensively about workplace culture and leadership strategy. She's an active member of her community as a domestic violence mentor, a volunteer leadership coach for Babson College students, a mentor for Ivy League students, and mental health and anti-workplace bullying advocate.







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