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Reading the Signs

Lets face it - no matter how tight it gets, you'd never want to work for a boss whose idea of work revolves around making your professional life miserable. Whether through sheer incompetence, utter cluelessness or just plain meanness, a bad boss will definitely make you regret taking that job no matter how down and out you were before signing on to your company-from-hell. I don't think anybody ever thought, "Thank God I now work for a boss that doesn't respect me in a company that's got me underpaid". It's a good thing, though, that most bad bosses and their equally crappy companies can be detected earlier on even during the interview stage (that's right - seeing how the personnel jockey made you wait 3 hours AFTER your appointment to be interviewed stands for something). To help you out, we rolled out a few helpful tips on evaluating whether the company you're applying to is worth all the work you've put into getting in.

Check the general mood of the people you see in the company. Are the workers there generally cheerful and light, or do they look like they've been toiling at a slave bazaar for some time now? Take a quick glimpse of how the people's attitude and tone make out, since you just might be one of them soon.
Sometimes mistakes happen; so the HR manager who set you up for an interview today TOTALLY forgot about it, and was out of the office for the day. Or maybe the interviewer inadvertently scheduled you AT THE SAME TIME he or she's got another affair going. Or maybe she's just late. Are the people in the office helpful to you, scurrying about trying to get in touch with the forgetful HR, getting you rescheduled on another time? When mistakes like these happen, people around a good, people-oriented company know that each and every employee (even potential ones) are worth their time and energy - and when something like this goes wrong, they know it's top order to fix it up. When they don't care and let you wait in the hallway helplessly for someone (or perhaps something) else to help you, thinking the problem will "fix itself", then you may want to re-think your application.
How does the HR Manager conduct the whole interview? Does he or she antagonize you, playing trick question after trick question just to see you squirm? Do they ask inappropriate questions, the type you're not sure is relevant to the job but might possibly get you a few points off anyway? Interviewers who know their manners speak highly of an organization that knows how to respect the rights and dignity of their workers - and usually the opposite can be said of their less fortunate and obnoxious counterparts. Be wary of the company that keeps crabby HR people-be even more suspicious of the ones that allow them to interview you.
Do the people move around like the wind at NASCAR, running around hurriedly as if working on work due yesterday? Or does the general air of the office feel like the lazy old farm in the afternoon, with people lazing around like kings? You may want to see how busy the people are at the company and see if it's a good match to your own personal working pace. Also, does the noise level, smell and general feel of the place show you a kind of working environment you'd like - or at least, one you can tolerate with ease.

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