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You know you don’t want to work for an employer when…

September 23, 2011

Princeton had it’s large General Interest Career Fair today, a once-in-a-year event. I talked to multiple companies, and I was able to get a good sense of who I didn’t want to work for.

So here’s my list. Feel free to comment and add on to it – I’ll edit the post later on to include the good ones.


You know you don’t want to work for an employer when…


There are two employees sitting at their table, and neither of them has the courtesy to say hi and get up to talk to you as you approach their table.

I was walking around at the career fair today and came upon the table of a reputed i-bank. From my impression both the “employees” sitting there had just been interns. Neither of them made any attempt to strike conversation or sell the firm to me, and it was only when I prodded them that they mumbled some completely useless “information”.

This reminded me of when I was talking to a mentor about my possible career path and he was telling me about his own job experiences. When he was talking about why he turned down an offer for a seemingly incredible position, he said,

I have one strong principle and it’s a principle that I never break – and that principle is that I don’t work with assholes.

I think I like that principle. Yeah, I think I’m going to adopt it.


The interviewer doesn’t give you his undivided attention during your interview.

I had an interview last year with an apparently really successful trading firm. We made small talk, and then he gave me a teaser to solve. My interviewer then picked up his blackberry and started playing around with it, and he continued to do it even after I was done with my problem. It wasn’t a cursory glance to check the time, he was clearly texting/emailing someone. He was talking to me and looking at his phone at the same time! This went on for at least 3-4 minutes in the tail end of my interview (which was, for the record, just 15 minutes long).

I have dressed up for this interview, probably prepared for it for weeks and maybe I’m even super excited about your firm. But if you have the cheek to be on your phone during the interview because you’re ADD or because you are too arrogant to bother, thanks but no thanks.


It’s a lot of fun. Working at our company is a lot of fun. Trust us, it’s so much fun.

If someone repeats more than four times how “fun” their company is, you don’t want to work there. Keep in mind that you are applying for a full-time position so it’s obviously going to be work, even if it’s an area that you genuinely like. Them having to reiterate 10 times how much “fun” it really is, is probably a red flag.


“I can’t really tell you what I do.”

Seriously? I think you forgot to complete the sentence – “otherwise I’ll have to kill you.”

This is something you’ll often hear when you are talking to finance/trading firms. I completely understand if you’re working on something proprietary, but you don’t have to tell me that I’m not in a privileged enough position to know what you are doing! Have a workaround, say something fluffy and generic, but don’t make yourself seem like an elitist douche by saying this sentence.


This is just a very brief list. Again, comment and add if you like.

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