How to Spot a Toxic Workplace As Early As Your Job Interview
Jun 13, 2019   •   Cristina Morales
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Jun 13, 2019   •   Cristina Morales
If you’ve ever worked in a toxic workplace, you’d probably do anything you could to avoid ever putting yourself in that position again. And if you haven’t, let’s keep it that way. Here are some red flags you should be watching out for during the hiring process.
Thanks to job boards like Glassdoor and Jobstreet, it’s now possible to view company reviews and get a better idea of what you’re getting into. But don’t just look for high scores. Are the reviews split into two very different camps: (1) “best workplace ever” and (2) “walk away while you still can”? Chances are, the big bosses have been pestering their employees to post positive reviews to get fresh blood in the team.
While you can overlook one or two bad reviews, if there are several complaints that are more or less consistent with one another, that’s a good indication that the company’s a bad idea.
Job interviews aren’t supposed to feel like you’re groveling for an opportunity to work — you’re basically meant to be sizing each other up and seeing if you’re the right fit for the company, and vice versa. If your interviewer treats you like you’re not worth their time, don’t fall for it. You’re not the problem, they are. And if they’re treating you like crap this early, just imagine what it’ll be like when you’re actually working together.
Maybe the office isn’t physically messy, but just disorganized. If it just seems like everything’s scrambling to figure out what’s going on, that’s a clear indication of communication problems in the organization.
And make a point to check out the toilet when you come in for your interview. What’s a bathroom got to do with a company’s values, you ask? Plenty. The state of the office restroom can speak volumes about how management values their employees’ happiness and health. Is it crawling with cockroaches with no toilet paper in sight? Run away.
Now, I’m not saying that every single family business is guaranteed to have a toxic company culture. There are some really great family businesses out there, but the dynamics of a family business just make it more prone to certain… undesirable quirks.
For instance, it may be more of a challenge to achieve career growth when the top positions are practically being handed out to relatives. Plus, complaining about your manager to HR is a lot more complicated when the two are closely related. Fortunately, you can get a feel of how much nepotism can affect your job by just seeing who makes up top management — are they all part of the family, or did they get their jobs by their own merit?
Is the hiring manager making you take one diagnostic exam after another and scheduling multiple interviews with no end in sight? They obviously don’t value your time. But on the other hand, they may be overeager to hire you, which means that they could be desperate to fill in a role nobody else wants, which is far from ideal.
If employees are leaving the company in droves, there must be a good reason for that. Try to get an idea of the company’s turnover rate from your interviewer, or ask around to see how long people have been with the company. If everyone seems to have been with the company for only a short amount of time, that’s cause for worry — unless the company’s a startup.
You’ve come to the interview prepared with a long list of questions, but the hiring manager has been really vague, using nice sounding big words but not really saying anything. If you’re starting to smell something fishy, trust your gut. Even though your interview shouldn’t be divulging company secrets, they should give you a clear idea of what it is you’re being hired for. You don’t want to be unknowingly sucked into a scam.
Are people glued to their computers like zombies? Sure, the office is supposed to be a place of work and concentration, but it shouldn’t be dead. Workplaces should foster easy collaboration, and if people don’t seem comfortable enough to talk to each other, then that’s a huge red flag.
Any more signs we should be on the lookout for? Tell us below!
Though a chronic dabbler in whatever tickles her fancy, Cristina claims she can count her passions on one hand: feminism, literature, the environment, embroidery, and the power of a solid pop song. She lives in Uniqlo lounge pants and refuses to leave the house without a winged eye.
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