The job market is still hot, despite recession fears, and job seekers continue to express confidence in their ability to take better jobs.
“I often get this question from my students… how do they choose from the many offers they get?” said Olivier Sibony, Professor of Strategy at HEC Paris.
But if the candidates are in power, the “likeliest mistake” they would make is for their decision-making to be influenced by an interaction, he told CNBC Make It.
This is also known as the “halo effect”, the tendency for a positive overall impression of a person or company to positively influence one’s opinion in other areas.
For example, if a job applicant’s first interaction with a company representative — who is typically a recruiter — is positive, the questions he or she will ask during the interview will “support that initial judgment,” Sibony said.
“Any questions you ask, you will find the answers satisfactory, and you will only ask questions that confirm your first positive impression,” he added.
“You’re not going to ask the hard questions … that would actually give the answers that would make you think, ‘Maybe it’s not such a good company after all.'”
How can you avoid picking a job you might regret? CNBC Make It finds out.
1. Ask the same questions
To overcome the halo effect, you should “force” yourself to ask the same questions at every company, said Sibony, who is also an associate fellow at the University of Oxford.
“Whether you actually ask these questions in the interview or get the information from another reliable source is another question,” he added.
“It might be far better to get the answers to your questions from Glassdoor or from company employees – rather than asking the interviewer – who most likely will not give you a truthful answer if you are realistic.”
2. Do your research
It’s “good practice” for everyone to have a checklist of questions or criteria they want their work to meet, Sibony said.
“Quite often, when people don’t fit a job, it’s because they didn’t do their homework properly … they didn’t ask the right questions.”
The author of “You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake!” recommended this process for creating a checklist: Talk to five friends who quit their jobs within months, or “tell them how much they hate their job every time you meet them.”
“Ask yourself what could this person have done before taking the job that would have given them the information they needed to make the right decision? What is the red flag she should have seen but wasn’t looking for?”
3. Are your potential colleagues satisfied?
Besides talking to your friends, it might also be worth talking to your potential colleagues, Sibony said.
“You might think you’ve gotten a lot of information… but it is [on the] inside they have a lot more information than you.”
He added that candidates may ignore red flags because they think they are “different” or “unique”.
“But you’re less different than you think… The best indicator of how happy you’ll be in a job is how happy the other people who are in that job are.”
“If they’re unhappy, there’s a very good chance you’ll be unhappy, too,” Sibony said.
4. Know what is important to you
Another reason job seekers don’t match jobs is that “they don’t really know what’s important to them.”
“Part of what you do when you start a new job, or when you accept consecutive new jobs, is not just to learn about those companies, but also about yourself,” Sibony said.
He added that there can be “nasty surprises” after starting a new role, even if you’ve prepared as best you can.
“I remember speaking to a former student who said she felt very depressed and alienated because people were working from home all the time, and [she] wanted to be in an office with them,” Sibony said.
“I asked her, but you didn’t ask that question [during the interview]? She said, ‘No, because I didn’t know it was important.'”
For this reason, Sibony encourages job seekers to view each new job as a learning opportunity – not just to learn about the job, but also about themselves.
“You don’t really know who you are until you experience being many different people in many different situations,” he added.
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