When I was in the lobby for an interview, I started chatting with an employee. I asked them if they liked their job, and they gave the most handwavey answer I've heard ever. Is this a red flag or did I just find an unhappy employee?

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Depends on what the content of the answer was. Chances are you caught someone in the midst of their day, dealing with stress and trying to make sense of whether THEY were working at the right place.

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It’s one employee on one day. If you ask me that question at any point on a day, I may give a variety of answers depending on my mood and what is going on at the moment. Overall, though, I’d recommend working at my company if it’s a place you want to work, even if it’s not perfect and I am having a bad day.

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I once interviewed for a company where I was super excited to work. The guy that interviewed me basically told me informally after the interview to not take the job, because I would be unhappy. I ended up taking the job and I'm glad I did. I worked there for ten years and now I'm looking for other opportunities, but I'm glad he didn't deter me.

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It sounds like a good opportunity to ask questions to the hiring manager!

Not a red flag. A total stranger not employed by the company asked them about the company and they were concerned about giving a neutral answer. They did the right thing.

I’m sure you’ve done this already but definitely check out Indeed and Glassdoor reviews. Also Google the company and see what comes up in articles and otherwise.

There are unhappy employees everywhere, but why don't you ask if there are people from the company on here? You might find some more honest answers.

Are they in the same or overlapping departments? Have the same manager and director?

Yes, it is a red flag, but heavily modulated based on how "close" their experience is to where you will be working. It isn't uncommon, especially with larger companies, for one division to be a nightmare while another is a delight.

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