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  • Red Flags On The Job Hunt: Student Edition

    [02.08.18]
    - Meagan Byrne

  • 4. They can't answer the question: "What does a typical day in this job look like?"

    You wouldn't think this was an issue, but trust me it is. Since getting into game design I have heard "it varies from day to day" as a response to the question of what a typical day is like so often I'm starting to think they're just being lazy.

    Often, if they are a manager and they say this then they may not know what they're reports are doing. If they are in the role and they say this then either they're hiding something like: we have 3hrs of meetings each day and then I go on Facebook for two hours after lunch or the work changes so much daily that it really does vary which is NOT A GOOD THING.

    In one job I took where I got the answer "it varies" and it turned out what they meant was: you will spend one week a month in absolute terror getting a project done that didn't have a due date till six days before and the rest of the time you will update documents...maybe. In another job it meant that the person answering did not really pay attention to what they did all day and couldn't really answer the question (Which obviously they are not going to say in front of their boss or HR). This is still bad because it means you have at least one team member who doesn't even care enough to think about what they do each day.

    And no, in neither of these cases was the answer "it varies" the truth. A company that can't give you an honest (if polished) idea of what the day to day (or month to month) is like is going to be full of surprises and not all of them may be the good kind.

    5. No one you will work with or for is at the in-person interview

    It's normal during screening interviews to not meet with anyone you would actually work with or for but if you are at the official interview and there isn't anyone you are talking to that is part of your potential team that could lead to issues. First of all, the chances of you getting useful answers to your questions about culture or work expectations are not likely. Second, it may be an indication of a few problems, such as a controlling owner or a team that doesn't know they're getting a new member, but generally the bigger issue is the first one.

    How can you be expected to make a decision about joining a group if you can't even meet anyone from it? A good company will at least have the manager at the in-person interview and sometimes that's all you need to get an idea of what kind of work environment it'll be like. If you use the right questions.

    6. Lots of turnover (or really bad reviews on Glassdoor)

    I don't think I really need to go into why this is a red flag, but if you really want to work for a company with this flag then please ask them about the reason for the turnover or the reviews and what they have done to remedy the problem.

    Really listen to their answer.

    If it's summed up as "those people are just haters" or "they just couldn't hack it" then this is not a good place. If they get mad at you for bringing it up, then this is a very bad place.

    7. They mention a beer tap (or that alcohol is available during business hours)

    I worked in live production for about five years and if anyone was ever caught with drugs or alcohol on the job you were out. If you were lucky you only lost a day's pay. This was probably because if you screw up in live production someone could end up dead. But ultimately when I think about any job I've ever had it would be stupid to be drinking anything more than a single beer at lunch. So maybe I'm old, but why, dear god why would you want to work for a place that encourages day drinking alone? Or even day drinking in groups?

    Usually this line in a job ad is code for: "we try to be cool and have boundary issues."

    I try to stay away from applying to aggressively "cool" companies because they tend to be run by the kind of people who are more interested in image than letting you do your job, but by god will they take it out on you if the job doesn't get done. I might also throw in places with loud lounge areas near work stations or where there is nowhere quiet you can go to work or have a meeting as additional things to be wary about with aggressively"cool" companies.

    8. They won't talk about pay or benefits even after the second interview (or are shocked, shocked that you would bring up money)

    Not putting the salary band in the job posting should be treated like a huge red flag in this industry, but the truth is it's not because too many companies don't do it. So don't be surprised if you get to the end of the interview and you still don't know what it pays even with a good company. This info should be posted in the job ad as a salary range along with basic info about benefits, but more often than not you will get to the end of your second (or even third) interview without knowing what you might be paid.

    This is shitty for two reasons: one, it puts the onus on you to bring it up which is going to be uncomfortable and two, it means you could have gone through several interviews (or even received an offer) before you know if you could afford to take the job or not.

    But a serious red flag is if you do bring it up and they act like you're some kind of shameful creature for daring (DARING!) to suggest that money would effect your decision to work there.

    Listen, lots of other artists have said this better than me, but don't think that a job you love means you shouldn't still treat it like a job. Work should be paid for and you deserve to be paid and not made to feel like crap because you want to know if you can even afford to take their offer. A good company, one that isn't run by people who treat their workers like disposable spoons, will understand that this is a transaction and will treat it professionally.

    Anyone who actually makes you feel bad for asking or who refuses to even give you a pay range without an offer in hand should be avoided. It's a good indication they will not treat you very well or that they cannot act professionally about simple business issues.

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