Searching for a new job is a long, difficult process, so when you land a job interview, it can feel like such a relief. But what if you are fighting to earn a position you should actually run away from?
Some potential employers and work cultures will be toxic to your ability to work well and perform at your best. Before accepting a job offer, you should evaluate the employer and company as a whole. Here, members of Young Entrepreneur Council provide eight warning signs that a company may be a bad place to work. Job candidates can use these red flags as a guide for what to avoid and to instead help find the right environment for them.
1. The Interviewer Acts Like They’re Doing You A Favor
Companies that interview people as if they are doing candidates a favor by letting them appear for the interview is a major red flag for anyone looking for employment. It is crucial to understand that the relationship between an employee and an employer isn’t supposed to be predicated on superiority, power or seniority. It is supposed to be predicated on synergy, collaboration and mutual respect. Companies with a “we’re here to pass judgment on you” attitude in interviews are a no-go. What this attitude suggests is that, in most cases, the said company will have unrealistic expectations and will often not reward an employee adequately for their hard work. They might also expect you to do things outside of your role without any compensation for your efforts in the long run. – Asim Rais Siddiqui, Tekrevol
2. The Employer Speaks Poorly Of An Ex-Employee
A huge red flag is when an employer talks about ex-employees in a bad light. It is concerning and shows how they are willing to skew a story. Every situation has three versions: theirs, yours and the actual one. Having objectivity and being able to look at the entire picture is the key to growth personally and in business. When employers blame or talk badly about an ex-employee, it scares me and makes me wonder if they are the problem. It’s natural as humans for us to want to blame others, but we have to look inside and see what we did wrong in the situation and how we can improve. Remember, the ex-employee was in the same shoes you are in right now. Jobs don’t always work out, and you do not want an employer blaming you for something to a person neither you nor your boss really know. – Brian Greenberg, True Blue Life Insurance
3. The Company Has Poor Presence With Customers
Check that their online presence is professional and legitimate across the board. Is their website done well and informative? Do they respond well to customer inquiries and criticisms on social media? Do they have more positive than negative reviews on job sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn? If any of these things are lacking, it might mean the company isn’t quite as together as you’d hoped. Bad customer service or a lack of responses on social media is definitely a red flag about how business is handled there. If something seems like a red flag to you, dig a bit deeper. You could perhaps reach out to former and current employees via LinkedIn and ask them about their experience or their take on something you’ve seen that you’re unsure about. They’ll likely be very happy to help you out. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.
4. The Company Has A Lot Of Negative Reviews Online
If you see a lot of negative reviews on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed, this could be a red flag. However, you should verify if those reviews were simply posted by disgruntled former employees who were terminated. To do this, look on the company’s website or LinkedIn for someone who currently works there and give them a call. I can guarantee you that your call will be well-received. Ask questions about the company culture and management and even mention what you have read online and ask them direct questions in relation to it. – Magnus Simonarson, Consultwebs
5. The Employer Doesn’t Adequately Communicate
You don’t want to work for a company that’s not open about its expectations. A vague job description is the first red flag. This might mean they are looking for someone to fill a number of roles without providing fair compensation. If you’re moving along in the interview process, you should expect a level of communication from the potential employer. Do they respond to your questions and get back to you in a timely manner? If not, that’s another red flag. Do your homework on the company. Look for reviews and check out their social media. Get a sense of their work culture and if it seems to fit your personality. – Thomas Smale, FE International
6. The Company Has A High Turnover Rate
High turnover rates are a huge red flag. Unless the organization recently underwent a large change, such as hiring a new CEO or executive director, there should be very little turnover in the company. Yes, people move on to new jobs and opportunities, but what you need to be on the lookout for are the signs of a mass exodus. If the entire leadership team has been there under a year, that’s a red flag. If the average duration of employment is under a year, that’s a red flag. I’ve worked at organizations where annual turnover was close to 75%. Currently, I’ve been executive director for three years, and every employee has been with the organization for over two years. It is vital to do your research on turnover. Look on LinkedIn, check their website and ask your interviewer. Turnover should be low, period. – Ashley Sharp, Dwell with Dignity
7. The Company Has A Restrictive Non-Compete
A very restrictive non-compete might be a sign that the leadership is insecure about keeping their staff. Contrary to what a candidate might initially think about a non-compete, a good company will simply have a candidate sign a non-disclosure agreement, which is a confidentiality agreement. A restrictive non-compete is unnecessary in a reputable organization. Organizations have many options within legal instruments available to them without putting the onus on the candidate. Be sure to read the implications of how things are handled after the job is over. Reputable companies have fair expectations of work after your engagement with them and do not have to be insecure with turnover. You should notice policies that encourage advancement in the organization and long-term growth. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
8. The Job Description Is Vague
A huge red flag is unclear job responsibilities. If you’re looking at a position and the job responsibilities are unclear or if the metrics for measuring success in your position are vague, then a candidate should run in the other direction. Even if the company is a startup or the candidate is a “go-with-the-flow” type of person, a position with this type of open-ended job description can spell disaster and result in poor performance reviews. It’s also a sign that the company doesn’t know where it’s going or how to cultivate growth and success. – Shu Saito, All Filters