Number ONE Sign You Need to Decline That Job Offer

Number ONE Sign You Need to Decline That Job Offer

Read this before saying yes to that offer, it might save you from a bad decision

Fernando Doglio's photo
Fernando Doglio
·May 19, 2022·

8 min read

During a job interview, a lot of things happen at once. On one side, you’re trying to fight your fears, push through them, and hope the interviewer can see the best of you. On the other side, you have someone who’s trying to sell the company to you while they’re also evaluating your skills.

Trying to market yourself to the company you’re hoping to reach is not unheard of. The same goes for them evaluating your skills, sometimes it’s about your soft skills (i.e the way you communicate with others) and sometimes it’s more about your technical skills.

But the one aspect where I want to focus on today is the part where they try to sell the experience of working for them to you. In other words, they want you to want to work for them. If you’re excited to join their team, then it means you’ll try to do the best job possible. But there are some phrases that you need to listen for before accepting the offer because they’ll show a hidden reality you might not be expecting.

The worst part is, they will be masked as a positive quality of the company, so you’ll hear them as a plus, but if you’re prepared for them, you’ll be able to identify them as a warning sign.

We only do overtime when it’s needed

This one is in fact, packed with a lot of content. For the untrained ear, it means you’ll be able to work your normal schedule 99% of the time, with the potential of having to stay late once or twice every few months. Not a big deal, right?


When a company correctly acknowledges overtime, they clearly state it, they have a plan to avoid it and to minimize it when it happens. Not because they care about their employee’s time, but because they know they have to pay for it. And they have to pay two or three times the normal rate, so the more overtime you do, the more they have to spend.

However, when they don’t recognize overtime as a rule, but rather as an exception, chances are, you won’t be seeing that extra pay anytime soon. And worst, they will even consider overtime as an obligation, especially if it’s not something that happens all the time (according to them).

In short, avoid this offer if you’re not willing to work extra for free.

We have fruits, and free-bagel Sundays

I can get my fruits at home, don’t worry about it. If you’re using that as an excuse to pay me less, then thanks but no thanks.

Some companies don’t really get the concept of benefits. There are real, solid, and substantial benefits such as having dental care as part of your health insurance, or an extra salary based on your performance, or even a company phone if you get to travel a lot. Those are actual benefits, because they add value to your life, or solve a problem that otherwise you would have to solve for yourself.

But if they’re selling you the concept of having free fruit and snacks at the office space as a benefit, then they got it all wrong, especially, if that offer only stands for non-weekdays. Such as “if you come in on Sundays, we got free bagels for breakfast”.

I’ve been there, my first internship offered free lunch for everyone who worked on Saturdays. The best part was, it was an unpaid internship, so not only were they not paying me, but they also requested me to work on Saturdays (more than once a month by the way). But hey, I got free lunch every time!

I was young and naive, we all were at some point, but with experience comes wisdom, and the wisdom to say “no” when you see this pattern repeating over and over again. Just avoid these companies and look for real benefits if you, in fact, do want them.

We’ve done X and they’ve failed at Y

This one is very subtle. When you’re being interviewed by a team lead, or project manager, or essentially someone who’s going to be overseeing your work, look for this pattern on their speech.

When they’re discussing the achievements and potential failures of the past, listen to whether that person is including themselves into the group that failed, or if they only add themselves to the winning side.

If they keep away from the group that failed at something, it is a sign of a poor manager, and don’t get me wrong, sometimes they do it without even noticing, but that also means they’re not paying attention to the details.

The point here is, as managers, and in particular, a future manager for you, that person should be able to accept accountability for the failures of their own team. If they don’t, then you probably don’t want to work for them, that kind of behavior breeds a toxic atmosphere around them and the work environment suffers the consequences.

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We’re a family

There are many variations of this one, “we’re a family”, “we think of ourselves as a big family”, “we consider our employees as an extended family”, “we hope you consider us your family” and I could go on, but they all mean the same thing: run.

This is the number 1 telltale sign and the reason you’re reading this article, so read carefully, please.

If you hear this one during your interview, I give you official permission to just stand up, thank them for their time, and walk away, without further explanation.

But why you ask? Why would you run away from a family?

Companies being a family is probably the biggest lie ever told during an interview. And this holds true for both, huge corporations and small startups (and everything in between as well). No company is a family, at the end of the day, they have goals to accomplish, monetary milestones to achieve, products to release and everyone is working towards that.

I think this boils down to a simple problem of expectations. Whenever you’re trying to get something from someone else, in this case they want you to join their company, you need to set the right expectations. If they sell you the moon, but they know they’re living underground, then the emotional hit you receive on your first day will be huge. The same goes for this family business, if they expect you to come to work every day and be treated as a family member, and expect the entire company to work as one, then the moment it doesn’t happen (and trust me, it won’t), you’ll feel it like a hit in the face.

I honestly think some companies advertise themselves as a "big family" because they want to give you the impression that they have a fantastic atmosphere where you can work and enjoy your time with them. But that’s probably the wrong comparison.

I’m sorry to say, but not all families are like that, in fact, families tend to have dramas every once in a while, are those also part of the deal?

Families have friction, I have two small kids (6 and 9) and they love each other, but at least once a day, they’re going to be complaining about each other on how they want to play with the toys the other one is playing with. Is that also going to happen in your company?

Maybe they’re trying to tell you that their company is going to go through tough times but together you’re all going to make it? That is what families do right? Yes, that sounds like you’re going to be forced into working extra hours because you love the company and you’d do anything for them, A.K.A without getting paid for it.

Or wait, maybe that means you can rely on them, just like with your family and when you have a personal problem and you need to stay home for a few days, they’ll be OK with that, right boss?

I doubt it, after all, you signed a contract where you agreed on going to work every day, didn’t you? There are laws behind that contract, you can’t just ignore those laws because you’re not “feeling it”.

At the end of the day, most companies will try to ask you to be a family member and break the rules in order the help _them:, but the reality is that they can’t break the rules for you. It’s not their fault, they’re a legal organization, not a family, and if they break the rules there are serious consequences. This does not mean they’re evil, it just means they advertised a false reality to you and you bought into it.

Look, here is the deal, this job might sound fantastic, maybe you’ve been admiring this company for years and whoever is on the other side, might be making it sound like you don’t want to miss it. But if you hear these words, I promise you, you’ll go through some of these situations, there is no way around it. And if you’re OK with that, then, by all means, take the job, but if anything that I’ve said so far goes against the way you expect to live your life, then trust me, walk away, it’s not worth it.

Companies are made to earn money, they have external interests that you as an employee are unaware of and there is no way they can work as your family, or even like the ideal perfect family.

It’s their responsibility to be honest, and to set the correct expectation for you. If you’re to join their company and actually enjoy your time there, you should have all the cards on the table before making the decision.

And this holds true for all aspects, maybe you’re not talking about being a family, but remember to ask about their extra hour policy, and what kind of benefits their employees get. These are not forbidden questions, these are in fact signs of a potential employee who’s aware they’re entering a new place and that their life could change because of it. If they take these questions as offensive, then again, walk away and find the right company for you.

Finally, I’d love to ask you, what’s your experience been in the past with these companies? Have you heard any of these phrases during a job interview? Or maybe others that are also a clear indicator you should run? Leave a comment down below and share it with the rest!

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