Have you ever left a job because of a toxic workplace environment? Have you felt bullied or harassed at work? Guess what? You’re not alone. In fact, according to research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), nearly 1 in 5 employees left their job in the last five years due to toxic workplace cultures.
So, how do you avoid ending up in another toxic workplace? It’s simple – by paying attention to subtle and not-so-subtle signs during your interview and hiring process.
I recommend going into your interview thinking and observing objectively for the following:
A Pattern of Disrespectful Behaviour
When trying to gauge whether the current employees respect each other, pay attention to how they interact with each other as they take you from one interviewer to the next.
- Ask yourself: Do they seem respectful? Do they look at each other in the eye?
- Watch their body language:
- Do they look comfortable?
- Are they switching their body weight around when you ask about their employer and the company’s group dynamics?
- Is there an overall lack of enthusiasm or interest in their company?
- Pay attention to whether the interviewer is interrupting you when you ask questions.
You can do this in both in-person interviews and virtual ones.
A Self-Absorbed Boss
The last thing anyone needs in their workplace is a boss who loves talking about themselves and lacks trust and respect for their team.
How can you tell if this is the type of boss you’re likely to get? You can tell by paying attention to how the company’s leaders speak about their team during the interview and what they say. For example, if they are boasting about an accomplishment or achievement, do they talk about the team as a whole or just themselves? If it’s the latter, you are in the self-absorbed boss territory. Also, if they focus only on their team’s shortcomings, it’s a definite red flag.
A Revolving Staffing Door
“Why is the position open?” This is a question you should always ask. If someone left because they were promoted, that shows that there are advancement opportunities that could be promising for you. In the case that the person previously in the role was fired, you can follow up by asking about how the group is expanding, where the hiring manager sees it going in the next six months to a year, and if there are growth opportunities. If the interviewer has trouble answering these questions, it can be a good indicator of a revolving door culture.
You can also research a company’s culture and turnover rate on employee review sites like Glassdoor that share anecdotes on a company’s overall culture or if employees in a department, for example, the sales team, are unhappy.
If you’d like to hear firsthand from people about their experience working for a company, you could reach out to them on LinkedIn. When you do, ask open-ended questions about what it was like to work there and how the turnover was. If you feel as if you have a good rapport with them, you can ask when they left.
Lack of Diversity
A company’s diversity numbers are often not addressed at an interview, so it’s essential to do your research beforehand. A lack of leadership diversity can often result in racism, sexual harassment, and discrimination in the workplace.
Look at whether there are any diverse leaders at the top. Is there a vertical race and gender segregation situation (for example, only white men at the top and then all the women at the bottom)? You can generally find this information on the company’s website.
Finally, Google the company for any search results on sexual harassment lawsuits or discrimination claims against the company.
Perks That Seem Too Good to Be True
The promise of a nap in the nap room, free meals, game rooms, and other exciting amenities may seem very enticing on paper. However, these amenities may come with a hidden agenda – the company is giving you this, so you spend ALL your time there. This could mean a culture where employees are overworked and burned out.
To gauge whether this is the case, ask questions about productivity: What hours do people work? How are people evaluated? If possible, connect with a former employee to find out how often workers take advantage of the perks. Or, if the company has a supportive work environment.
Pay attention to how the boss speaks about the firm’s perks, benefits, and productivity expectations. If the answers seem too good to be true, they probably are, and likely the boss is overcompensating for something else.
I hope this information helps you make an objective decision about moving forward with an interview or an offer at a company that may have toxic workplace red flags. If you’d like additional support with your decision, I invite you to connect at [email protected] or call/text 778-878-6210.
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