Seeing the Signs: How to Identify and Avoid High Turnover Jobs

High Turnover Jobs

Seeing the Signs: How to Identify and Avoid High Turnover Jobs

Whatever job site you frequent, you’ve probably seen a job post or two that looks oddly familiar. It may be because it’s been posted and reposted month after month because the organization is having trouble filling it. It could be because it was filled, and now it’s inexplicably open again. Whatever the case may be, this scenario is justifiably concerning to job-seekers. A reputable staffing agency can spot a high turnover job a mile away, and will do whatever they can to spare their candidates the time and stress associated with it. These jobs may not be as obvious to a candidate, especially one that is very eager to secure a new position. Here are a few hints to help you figure out if you may have stumbled into a job that is likely to be problematic.

Check Job Review Sites like Glassdoor and Indeed

Candidates have a unique advantage in the age of social media and the internet. With job review sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, you can read about prospective employers from an employee standpoint.  What better way to know what it’s like to work at a company than to hear from employees first hand? A recent Glassdoor survey indicates that 69% of candidates would not take a job with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they were unemployed. Google reviews are also very reliable because they are virtually impossible to remove. While these reviews can reveal a great deal about a company, you may still wish to remain objective after reading a poor assessment of an employer. The candidate giving the review may have an ulterior motive for giving the company a poor rating. There is always another side to the story, and one bad review shouldn’t necessarily scare you away from an otherwise desirable position.  If the company has received several bad reviews, especially with regard to matters that are important to you, this may not be the right organization for you.

Ask the Right Questions in the Interview

When a hiring manager asks if you have any questions about the position, make sure to speak up! This is your chance to gather some valuable information. Ask if the position is new to the company, or if they are trying to fill a vacancy. If you’re interviewing to fill a vacant position, you’re justified in tactfully asking how long the position has been vacant. You can also ask how long the previous employee held the position. The interviewer will know why you’re probing, but the fact that you’re asking will let them know that you have concerns about turnover. One all-encompassing question that also has a user-friendly feel is “Can you tell me about the history of this position?” A great article from provides some great tactics for asking this question and responding in a non-accusatory way, as well as some other key questions to ask in an interview.

The Interviewers May be Indicators

Candidates may interview with anywhere from 1-5 people in the course of the application process. Depending on the size and structure of the organization, you may speak with an HR Manager or Assistant, the President or CEO, and even co-workers. If you don’t meet or interview with your direct report or supervisor, and it’s not because he or she is on vacation or out sick, this could be a sign.  It may be that the HR department or others in the company view this person as difficult to work for. They may fear that his or her interview style might be off-putting. Chances are you aren’t going to meet with them if this is the case. Again, you would not want to jump to the conclusion that is a high turnover job simply because you didn’t interview with the direct supervisor. If you received confirmation that there is a great deal of churn on this team or in this position, the absence of the supervisor could be an indication that the problem lies, at least in part, with that individual’s management style.

Overselling the Position in the Interview

Hiring managers will sometimes attempt to control the interview by giving you an enormous amount of information about the position, leaving little room or need for questions from you. This is a good indication that they may be trying to avoid having to answer questions about why the job is open. They may also give you only the perks and bright spots of the position. Vacation and flex time, company parties and holiday time off are may be reluctant to answer specific questions about hours, workload, and requirements.

The Interview and Onboarding are Flawed

You show up for the interview and everyone seems caught off guard, like maybe they forgot you were coming. This is, at the very least, an indicator that communication is lacking in the organization. It also stands to reason that the company is not prioritizing the role, or the person who will occupy it. Some job-seekers may find themselves in an interview that seems rushed and chaotic, or just plain disorganized. If this is the honeymoon stage of your involvement with an organization, it most likely won’t improve if you decide to accept a position. If you do decide to accept a position, but find yourself feeling deflated because the company’s onboarding is flawed or lacking, you’re not alone. This lack of planning and preparation is major turnoff new employees. 90% of employees decide whether they will stay in a position within the first six months, and onboarding plays a large role in their decision. A 2007 study by the Wynhurst Group indicated that newly hired employees are 58% more likely to be at a job three years later if they received a structured onboarding program. An employer of choice will recognize the need to assist newly hired employees as they transition into a new company culture. This dedication to the employee experience should be evident from your very first encounter. If it isn’t, you should reconsider before accepting a position there.

Consider Working with a Reputable Staffing Firm

If you join the ranks of an experienced staffing firm, you are much less likely to encounter those high-turnover, problematic jobs. Veteran staffing firms earn their reputation with candidates by NOT taking every job order from every client that is offered to them. They choose to work with best-in-class organizations that understand the importance of company culture to their employees. A trusted recruiter values the talent they work with, and is concerned with their best interests. Veteran staffing firms are selective when it comes to the clients they choose to work for, and the candidates that they choose to work with. The greatest strength of these agencies lies in their ability to match the two. If you’re working with the right agency, and they submit you as a candidate for a job, that agency has already established that this is a positive opportunity with a credible organization.

Years ago, as a job-seeker, I feel like I managed to avoid one of these problematic jobs. The job description matched many of my core competencies. The salary, hours and location were right. I submitted my resume and accepted an interview. The “interview” was conducted by two females from the department with which I was interviewing. Throughout the hour-long interview, the two of them were giggling like high schoolers and talking about how much fun they have on the job. Their approach to the interview was painfully casual. I think the intention was for me to view the company as a fun and relaxed environment where a young person would be comfortable. Instead I left with the feeling that neither of them really took me seriously as a candidate. When they called to offer me the position, I couldn’t even figure out why they had chosen me. I didn’t feel as though they had enough opportunity to get to know me, or really delve into my qualifications. My instinct told me that they just needed to get a body in there as soon as possible. Mostly, I feared that were going to be too busy horsing around to train me properly! At that time, job review sites didn’t really exist, so I was left with only my better judgment to guide me. In the end, it scared me away from taking the position, and left me with a negative opinion about the company. Out of curiosity, I monitored the job posting in the classified ads of my local newspaper (I told you it was years ago). Not surprisingly, I continued to see the position in the classified ads for several months before it finally disappeared. Did they fill the position, or simply give up trying? It’s anyone’s guess. I have always been grateful that my instincts steered me away from taking a job that I would’ve likely found myself leaving in a few short weeks.

While there are no fool-proof ways to ensure that you’re not walking into a high-turnover job, there are signs you can look for that will help you to forecast this. Again, it’s important to remember that any one of these warning signs mentioned above may not be evidence of a problematic job. But a few of these coupled with your own good instincts should be enough to guard you against taking a job that that you’ll be looking to leave soon after you start.

Bradley Staffing Group is a full-service staffing firm based in Wayne, PA. We are committed to matching A-level talent with best-in-class businesses. Our knowledgeable and well-trained staff brings a combined 70+ years of staffing experience to our clients and candidates alike.


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