2.4 Red flags

You might want to avoid companies that have displayed the following red flags.

  1. The company is less interested in your expertise and more interested in whether you can fulfill their most urgent needs -- they might ask whether you can do this or that instead of digging deep into your knowledge and experience. If they only want you for their urgent needs, they might let you go when they’ve outgrown those needs.
  2. The company doesn’t respect your time, e.g. canceling your interviews last minute. Either they aren’t that interested in hiring you46, or they are an organizational mess.
  3. The majority of questions are bad. It means the company hasn’t spent a lot of time thinking about their hiring pipeline, which leads to poor hiring decisions, which in turn can ruin the company.
  4. The company pressures or threatens you into taking their offers. For example, they give you only a day to consider their offer47. Companies should give you at least a week, and if you need more time to wait for interviewing results at other companies, they usually extend their deadline. Companies should hire only the people who want to join them after having considered all options, otherwise, they might keep wondering and leave at the first chance they get.
  5. The company displays a culture incompatible with your values. If you have small children, you might want to avoid companies that expect employees to respond to emails at 8pm. If you’re on the more mellow side, you might not want to join a company whose team building activities involve beer-pong or ax-throwing competitions.

46: DeepMind is also known for cancelling interviews last minute. They did that to me and also to a friend of mine who eventually joined them. It could just be that they weren’t terribly excited about us joining.

47: A candidate told me he was once threatened by a well-known ML researcher that if he doesn’t take his offer, he won’t be able to find jobs at any of the various organizations that this researcher is involved in.

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