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Danger Phrases to Watch for When Interviewing
People walking on a cliff behind a "Danger" sign
Photo by Micaela Parente on Unsplash

We’ve been there… You narrow in on the industry, function and role that you’re excited about doing now.  You reach out to your network for research conversations, position yourself as a top candidate, and start the interview process. But there are a couple of phrases that pop out in the job description or during the interview process that don’t seem right. And you can’t figure out why. Well, paying attention to those “red flags” and “danger words” can help spare you from a dream opportunity turning into a nightmare job.

 “We work really fast”

While it’s great for businesses to be nimble, working “fast” can be dangerous for two reasons:

  1. Working “fast” can mean that deadlines are consistent, and the workload is heavy. There’s something to be said for never being bored at work. But there’s another thing to be said for constantly being buried and feeling overwhelmed. You’ll want to make sure the pace of work is something you feel comfortable with and that expectations are reasonable.
  2. Tight turnarounds can also mean that the department or the organization is disorganized. When employers expect you to work quickly every day, it could be because lack of planning is part of their culture. Resulting in a culture of putting out “fires” and dealing with emergency situations that could have been avoided with project planning and a good time estimation. Tight turnarounds can mean ending up with long hours regularly, causing unpredictability for both your work and home life. That means you’ll be kissing any hope of a work-life balance goodbye.

“We’re undergoing a new period of growth”

Being part of a growing organization or department can be really exciting. It shows forward thinking, the opportunity to create something new, and a desire for the employer to change its way of life for the sake of improvement. However, companies who grow too quickly can face a few problems as well.

  1. Lack of payroll planning. Some companies see the new work on the horizon and staff up, only to realize there’s no money to support their larger payroll costs. Depending on the size of the company and their financial situation, this can cause employees, new and old, to miss out on paychecks until client payments come in.
  2. Bad culture fit. When employers are so eager to hire that they disregard how well their team will work together, conflict happens. Hiring someone for their personality is nearly as important as hiring someone for his or her job skills.
  3. Growing for the sake of growth, not for the sake of improvement. Sometimes employers end up adding more bodies to their employee count just because they can.  Others add because they need to. If you’re one of several redundant employees, make sure that the employer has expressed a need for more people to do the same job because of volume of work, not just because they were told to deplete this year’s extra budget.

You’ll want to make sure that any organization you consider working for that expresses they’re in a period of growth, hasn’t increased their workforce by more than approximately 30-40% in the last 6 months, or if they have, make sure you ask and understand why. You’ll also want to ask questions during your interview about why this is the best time for the business or department to grow. See if the answers you receive reflect a sound business decision, or a knee-jerk reaction to having extra money suddenly (if we all could have that problem!).

We Want To Hire You Today

It doesn’t happen often, but there are employers who will offer jobs right on the spot after the first or second interview. If that happens to you, it’s going to be hard not to be flattered – after all, you’re an awesome employee and anyone would be lucky to have you on their team. But beware of an employer who doesn’t take the time to reconnect with their team after your interviews. Also, make sure you take the time to carefully consider everything you learned about your potential employer and consider what was said during your interviews. You shouldn’t accept a marriage proposal from someone you just met, and it’s probably a bad idea to immediately accept a job offer from someone you just interviewed. There are exceptions, but it never hurts to be cautious.

Getting to the core of who and what a business is can be tricky. Sometimes we get it right, and unfortunately, other times we get it very wrong. Take your time when considering an employer. Read company reviews online but take them with a grain of salt. Have at least 2 research conversation with employees outside of  formal interviews. If you saw red flags fundamental to the business, just like with dating, know that they’re there and they’re not going away.


Good luck out there! If you haven’t done so already, make sure you book your free career strategy session with ArcVida to share your career goals and how you can reach them with ArcVida.

Book your strategy session today >>.

More Reading:  Stay Chill Before a Job Interview 

Published on 4/27/2021