When you interview with a new company, you might feel as if you’re under a microscope as company executives and the human resources department evaluate your credentials, experience and even work ethic.
At the same time, you should be taking a close look at the company as well. In some cases, what might seem like a great and promising place to work is anything but.
There are a few signs you can look for during a job interview that could indicate a possible toxic culture that you’d likely do best to avoid.
5 Signs of a Company’s Cultural Toxicity
From the receptionist you first encounter to the person sitting across the interview table, you can assume that the company is toxic if you meet rude and unhappy employees. People in an agreeable work environment are happy and exude positive energy.
If you’re met with sad faces and rude personalities, chances are you could be the next unhappy and impolite employee on the payroll. If you think that might be the case, this would be a work environment to avoid.
2. Unanswered Questions
It is typical to ask questions of an interviewer during the interview process. In most cases, your questions will, or at least should, be answered to your satisfaction, with clear and detailed explanations. If the interviewer seems hesitant or evasive when responding to any questions you might have about the job or the company itself, that should be a red flag.
3. The interview is Too Short, or Too Long
Just as Goldilocks tested each bowl of porridge until she found one that was “just right”, you know when an interview is conducted as it should be and when it’s not. For instance, if it feels rushed and you don’t feel as if the company took the time to truly evaluate you and yet has offered you the job, then you might feel as if they are desperate and have had trouble finding anyone to fill the position.
On the other hand, if the interview feels needlessly long and drawn out, this could indicate a disorganized environment. Or, it might be indicative of a company that simply places too many demands or is simply indecisive, which could mean it’s a frustrating place to work.
Both desperation and frustration can be indicators of a toxic culture.
Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer how long he or she has been with the company. Ask the same question of everyone who interviews you or who you meet during your visit to the company. If the majority of those you ask have only been with the company a short time, this would indicate a high turnover rate.
In most cases, employees stay with companies that are good to work for. If the company seems filled with newer employees, there might be a reason for this, and the reason might not be good.
5. A Sullen Atmosphere
While it would be unreasonable to expect that employees would be wearing party hats and dancing in the conference room, some conversation and a somewhat relaxed atmosphere are in most cases a normal reflection of a positive work environment.
If people seem abnormally absorbed in their work and the office seems unnaturally quiet or tense, this could indicate that the company places high and even unreasonable expectations on its employees.
So what to do if you suspect a toxic culture once the interview is over?
Research the company. Search for reviews online and see if there are any negative comments from current or former employees. Also find out if there are any complaints from customers and clients.
Even a dream job can quickly become a nightmare when it’s contained in a toxic culture. Keep your eyes and ears open during your next job interview and do your homework about the company.
At the first sign of apparent toxicity, stop chasing that dream and pursue the next opportunity.