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This only works when they make it easy for you. There are a lot of places where everything seems great during the interview (and they don't do any of the things you mentioned), but then it turns out to be terrible. There's also the problem that even good companies can be really bad at interviewing.

I think it's kind of like dating: if they don't give you an obvious signal, you probably won't know until it's too late, and sometimes when you get an "obvious" signal you might be wrong anyway.

The only advice I can think of--beyond heeding obvious warning signs--is to try to work some place that's doing something you actually care about. Then you're less likely to run into incompatibility issues, and the effect of toxic people may be mitigated.

Another angle is that you probably can't avoid working with assholes, so you can get organized and be prepared to push your own agenda. Don't back down too easily. I've seen this work fairly well, but you have to be ready to deal with the stress and potential fallout. Depends on circumstances, YMMV, etc.

Agreed. That list is definitely surface level and should be taken on a case by case basis.

My recent employment adventure turned me cynical. My then-soon-to-be boss seemed great during the interview. He was technical, his questions were interesting and deep and the team seemed happy. Turns out he was a complete sociopath who made everyone's life living hell. The unhappy weren't invited to the interview.

The first clue from the second day at drinks should've been, "I voted no in hiring you, but [his boss/my previous company's CTO] convinced me to change my mind." in front of the other senior admin. Kinda downhill from there.

What makes these situations so difficult is that leaving a job early has such a strong negative effect on your future work prospects. Even worse, being unhappy at a job affects your work prospects, too. There really isn't a win in those situations.

Leaving a job after the second day (or even the second week) doesn't need to have _any_ negative effects, you just leave it out of your CV.

Easier said than done. Being hired means you also wrap up all the other ties with the other companies you're working with. You effectively have to start over. Also, considering how small some fields are, doing this could be pretty damaging further down the line.

Sure, you need to be in a position where you _can_ walk away from a job - and be fairly confident you can pick up another one promptly, but leaving company A in Feb and starting at company B in April isn't something that'll raise questions about your CV - not the way leaving company A in Feb and starting at company B in June or August will.

It's a pretty good time to be a developer - most of us don't need to hang around under asshole bosses just to keep the rent paid next week. If you start a new role, and the red flags are waving madly on day 2, strongly consider walking out.

This advice won't apply to first-job-put-of-college devs, in that case you might just need to suck it up for a year, and put off buying that flash new car or taking that trip to Vegas until you've got 6 months living expenses saved (Note, may also not apply so well to fairly well paid junior or mid level devs who've gone way too deep with SF housing rental either... Same advice applies, build up a six month living expenses savings, so you _can_ afford to walk out on an asshole boss if you need too...)

Is it really? If the fields are that small, wouldn't other people know what kind of an ass that boss is, too?

I'm not looking in the same field anymore, so.. Yes. Really. :)

But yes, other people did know what type of boss he was. The last recruiter I worked with said, "You worked for X? That guy was fucking mental..."

Ahh, OK - if you're in a field so small that everybody knows everybody, it's somewhat different to the "Can you spell Javascript? Great, how does $140k and a BMW as a signing bonus sound? We're building Uber-but-for-seahorses!" scenario :-)

I not only know how to spell JavaScript, I also know that the 's' has been capitalized since Sun and Netscape first announced it, and I can even do magical, wizardly things with it! Where do I sign up for '$140k and a BMW as a signing bonus'?

At my current employer, I had no idea that current employees/senior staff would be pulling in former collegues from a direct competitor. It's hard to see what mindset they are dragging in with them, such as failed processes, that are clunky, but familiar to them or the same singleminded views they are used to. I have to fight that battle being more of an outsider in a senior position and knowing that some of them are filling in more senior roles for the first time in a new company where only their former collegues know their past habits/skeletons.

The aggravation can make you want to lose your cool, but like you said, not backing down is key. Nothing is worse than someone telling you that you are not doing your job and then never challenging them with an intelligent response. You then have to spread your gospel like you own it. Otherwise, you become guilty due to your perceived indifference.

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