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This post was written by Alison Green and published on Ask a Manager.

A reader writes:

I’ve been looking for a job for a year and finally accepted a hybrid role at a medium-sized start-up. I’ve been here for a week and a half. It’s fine but things are pretty disorganized and my manager keeps making comments about me in a leadership role soon, which I realize more and more that I do not want.

During the time between signing and starting, I was contacted by another company (I had sent out over 300 applications and was still in the mode of saying yes to every interview; I realize the respectful thing would have been to withdraw) and kept getting invited back for more interviews. This second company pays 30% more, is larger and more established so I will have an opportunity to learn process missing from my mostly freelance resume), has more robust product, and is fully remote. No brainer! Until.

The hiring manager of this second company emailed to say he wanted to meet to discuss an offer. About half an hour before the meeting, he said we would not be discussing the offer because they hadn’t completed my references. Instead we would be discussing feedback from the interview process. Weird, right? After a perfunctory questions, he brought up:

1) a response of mine from the interview process (that I truly do not remember) where it seems the perception was that I don’t deal well with conflict and just do whatever I want

2) a time I had a “heated political conversation” … 10 years ago when I was in school. (A person on the hiring committee went to school with me, so I assume he was the source. The hiring manager did a bad job convincing me otherwise. I asked the hiring manager for more details about this decade-old conversation and when he couldn’t provide them, I asked if I could contact my former classmate to clarify. He said no because he had not cleared talking to me about the anecdote with my former classmate.)

The interview made me uncomfortable and confused. He seemed reserved and “diplomatic”: at the end of the call he kept saying if there were to be an offer, if you were to join the team…

A few hours later, when they had completed my reference checks, (I checked with them and they all said the person they spoke with — not the hiring manager — specifically asked about conflict with me), he emailed saying the way I had approached the meeting and my references had made him confident I’d be a good team member and when could I meet to go over the offer?

Is this a huge red flag? I’m sort of starry-eyed about the comp and how good the role could be for my career progression. What questions should I ask when we “go over the offer” (literally who knows what this meeting might be)? I’m worried about coming off confrontational.

Because I was out of work for so long, I need to stay at my next job for at least a couple years (also, I am so sick of job searching) but I worry that I’m moving something okay for something … maybe bad?

Yeah, I’d be put off too.

Why are they even setting up a meeting to make an offer when they haven’t finished your reference check?

And then, rather than rescheduling the meeting once he realized the references weren’t done, he decided to use that call to dig into his apparent reservations. To be clear, if he had reservations, he should talk to you about them before making a decision — but then why had he already set up the offer meeting in the first place? I suspect the reservations were somewhere in the back of his head and he initially hadn’t planned to follow up on them, but then when he had a call with you and no offer to make, he figured he might as well ask. It comes across weirdly to you as the candidate, but okay, I can see how he got there.

But asking about a “heated political conversation” from 10 years ago?! If it was heated because you were saying things that were, say, racist or homophobic or otherwise bigoted, I can see why he’d be concerned about bringing you into their workplace. But otherwise … really? That’s A Lot. And I’m not thrilled about you taking a job where the manager might already have a chip on his shoulder about you, and might be likely to see every minor conflict through an already biased lens.

As for whether these are huge red flags … well, they’re not green ones, that’s for sure. I don’t think you’re in “run like hell” territory, but it would be smart to get more information.

One thing you could do is simply ask him head-on in the next conversation, “I was surprised when you asked about a political conversation from a decade ago, and I wondered if you could tell me more about the concern on your end so I’m not walking into a situation where I might not understand all the dynamics in play.”

But in your shoes, I’d want to gather a lot of intel about what this manager is like, from sources other than him. Can you work your network to find people who have worked with him and get the low-down? If that’s impossible, you could try asking to meet a few people on the team, although that’s not as reliable (since people currently working for him generally won’t be as candid as people who aren’t). What you learn from doing that is likely to either make you feel more comfortable moving forward or make it clear that you shouldn’t take an offer from this guy.