The relationship we have with our work can sometimes be one of the most impactful relationships of our life. A toxic work environment can take a huge toll on our overall happiness and wellbeing. Recognizing those red flags early on can ensure we don’t accept the wrong job with the wrong employer.
A red flag is anything that signals to you that your boundaries are being crossed, or makes you feel uncomfortable. This is entirely dependent on your personal values, beliefs and boundaries, but there are a few red flags that are easy to spot—let’s discuss.
Bad Glassdoor Reviews
Glassdoor can be a great resource to check out if you’re applying for a company you’re unfamiliar with. In addition to helping you gauge salaries and expectations for interviews, Glassdoor also allows previous employees to leave reviews of their experience with the organization. One, or two bad reviews could be just a difference in personality, but if a company has more bad than good reviews and an overall poor rating, you may want to think twice about accepting employment with the organization.
Inefficient Communication Style
A poor work-life balance, and lack of boundaries when it comes to work hours can quickly lead to a toxic work life. If you are noticing in your application process that you are receiving emails at odd hours, you can likely assume that you too will be expected to be available 24/7. If a healthy work-life balance is important to you, this would be worth considering before you sign any contracts.
Strange Language in the Job Description
This one can be a bit more difficult to suss-out, but I would say trust your instincts. I once interviewed with a company who put “OCD to a fault” in the job description. What they were trying to say (and what would have been a much more politically-correct way of saying it) was “strong attention to detail.” Using mental-illness as a qualifier in a job description was in poor-taste, and it was a no from me.
If you’re one of those people who enjoys perusing job boards as a part-time hobby, just to see what’s out there, you may begin to notice some patterns. If the same company is constantly posting for the same role, something might be up. A revolving door at an organization typically signals that people don’t last long and they are probably leaving for a reason. We all know how time consuming and stressful job hunting can be, so if people are happy in their workplace, there usually isn’t a huge incentive to leave. If a company can’t keep a role filled, it’s time to ask why. A really great question to ask in any interview is, “Why is the role being filled now?”, or “Why did the last person leave this role?”
Shady Interview Tactics
Refusal to answer your questions, or seemingly unwilling to be upfront is a major red flag. A job interview and hiring process is an opportunity for both potential employees and employers to ask questions and decide if the fit is right. Just like in any other relationship, it’s important for both parties to be communicative and to feel comfortable about the expectations and agreement. So, if your interviewer seems to give non-answer, or finds ways around being upfront, they might be hiding something for a reason. It can be incredibly difficult to work with someone with poor communication skills or who leaves you in the dark regarding things that affect you. If an employer can’t be upfront with you in an interview, it might be worthwhile to move on.
My best advice is to consider your non-negotiables from a job. What is really important to you and your happiness? Remember: it’s ok to bring any of these things up in an interview. For example, if company has bad Glassdoor reviews, ask them about it. Give them the opportunity to explain. If you keep receiving communications in the middle of the night, let them know that having clear boundaries is important to you and if the expectation is that you be available 24/7, maybe this isn’t the right fit for you.
It’s important to be upfront about your boundaries and expectations. It will save you from jumping into the wrong job and then being in the difficult position of having to find another job. Keep an eye out for the red flags and save yourself the unhappiness of a job that is the wrong fit.
Does something not sit right with you about a job you’re applying to and need some advice? Reach out to Style Nine to Five Founder Christie Lohr with your career question!
Sheila O’Neill is a creative, innovative and inspiring storyteller with a background in fashion.