Recently I've had an initial interview for a new job in my dream sector of aerospace after completing their coding test task. I strongly believe I did a great job on the test task (but I acknowledge that may be my own impression). During the interview I started having some doubts about the company. Still, I agreed to meet in person. Then, after having digested the experience over a weekend, I gained a strong negative impression and didn't want to meet in person anymore. I still thought I should, though, because I shouldn't let my emotions rule over what should be rational decisions. The meeting was postponed and now I was asked to give some alternative date suggestions and it's second weekend after the initial interview. What I am looking for advice on is whether I'm simply overreacting, whether I should decline any more meetings, or how to decline.
Here's a list of reasons why I struggle with doubts:
- the meeting was only over phone with a single manager, even though we could have used a videoconferencing tool. This isn't a strong argument I'd say, but it definitely helps to make a good impression if you can sense visual body language.
- when asked how they handled the pandemic, the answer was "badly". They did switch to remote as much as they could, but apparently the productivity suffered. Shouldn't the health of employees be above productivity?
- when asked about meeting deadlines, he said they always have some missed, because it's so frequent in aerospace. I mean I understand the difficulty of work in aerospace, but shouldn't this already be factored in?
- related to the above, I asked about stress. The manager claims to be fairly successful in shielding away customer-induced, deadline-related stress away from employees, but I didn't gain that confidence given the fact that there always are missed deadlines.
- when asked about benefits, the manager chuckled, saying that I perhaps got "spoiled" by multinational corporations, and didn't offer anything that I can remember in exchange. Note that an existing, solely national company offers quite fancy benefits, so I consider this a silly excuse.
- when asked whether they'd agree on my salary requirement, he said that it depends on whether I'd be willing to lower it. Note that such salary was already agreed upon at another company (multinational one, though), even though it's closer to senior positions than junior ones (which is where I'd put myself anyway). This was said after being told that the company is doing really well (especially with aerospace and from-abroad contracts). He also said that we would discuss that during the in-person meeting.
Some more things to note:
- it's a smaller company with 30-40 employees, located in central Europe.
- the initial interview was scheduled on Friday afternoon at 4pm and then rescheduled to 2pm within an hour. I was told it's strange to schedule meetings for Friday afternoon, but I don't have an opinion about it myself.
- it is strange to be asked to give meeting dates myself first for them to select one; it is also strange to require an in-person meeting even though it's been agreed I'd work full-remote and having to travel for about 3 hours one-way to reach their offices.
- I'm easily manipulated in spoken language compared to written one, because I struggle with saying "no", I try to remain mature even when treated really unfairly, and trying to be as kind as possible. I do work on this, though, and I'm already quite assertive in text.
Last week and today I've been having stomach cramps just from thinking about this. It's my dream to work in aerospace, but I have such strange and sketchy impression that I'm strongly leaning towards declining anyway. But I need to know whether I'm overreacting and should give the meeting in person a chance, or whether my gut is giving me valid signals. Does the interview process above sound normal? Since this is mostly based on impressions and not factual data, how should I decline in case you suggest to do so?