Five Red Flags In the Interview Process That Signal a Toxic Workplace

Five Red Flags In the Interview Process That Signal a Toxic Workplace

Even in the best of times, hunting for a job can easily be a roller coaster of emotion. If you don’t have a job currently and need to pay the bills, you might find that you simply need to just take the first thing that comes your way. But if you are in the position of being choosy – meaning you already have a job or you stumbled upon a fortune – then it pays off in spades to pay close attention to subtle and/or overt signs of a toxic work culture during the interview process.

Not only is getting an interview hard work – the actual interviewing part of the interview is also hard work. That's right – if you didn’t know already, that spot at the end of the interview where the interviewer asks if you have any questions is just as (if not more) important as the whole part that’s all about you. This is your chance to ask questions, and when asking questions you are going to want to pay attention to what your interviewer says, and even what they don’t say.

Employees Are Unhappy

This might be hard to gauge, or it might be incredibly easy, depending on how disgruntled they are. You might notice passive aggressive comments about the workplace, the culture, or about other employees. Other times, they might be much more obvious about their dislike of the workplace, including openly badmouthing former or current team members and bosses. If you pick up on this during the interview, take note – or run for the hills.

Higher than Normal Turnover

In the time of the great resignation, or in high tech where turnover is relatively common, you can cut companies some slack. But if there is a broad trend of employees jumping ship within a company or in the specific department or team you will be working in, take note. Employees jumping ship could signify something wrong structurally with the company, or a toxic work culture.

Finances Are a Mess

If you love working for a startup, you might have to just accept a certain amount of financial instability. But if the company you are interviewing at still shows signs of financial struggle well after IPO with no end in sight, you might want to think twice about working there. Working at a company with money problems could spill over into higher stress than you really want for your life.

Job Specifics and Expectations are Unclear

Taking a new job where expectations are unclear is like taking a big jump over a cliff and hoping something will catch you before you hit the bottom. Make sure to ask a lot of questions regarding what success will look like and how it will be judged in this role, as well as get a strong view of what the day to day looks like. If you don’t know what you will be doing, and how what you will be doing will be judged, how can you really confidently take a job?

Your Gut Says No

Remember how they say “I have a bad feeling about this” in Star Wars a lot? If that’s how you are feeling right before taking a job, then odds are you are better off taking it. Not only will it be hard to be successful long term in a job you are already feeling bad about before accepting, it could also signify there are toxic signs you are picking up on that you haven’t quite processed yet.

If you are just starting out in your career or currently without a job, it might be tempting or necessary to ignore your gut in situations like this. But if you have a job that’s okay for you, why not take time to find a next role that you are excited about?


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