The signs for spotting a toxic workplace in an interview

Posted in Latest News on 6 Feb 2024

Admitting you need to leave a toxic workplace is a big step. But how do you identify that the next place you are interviewing at isn’t just the same?

This is a big concern for people – our latest salary survey identified that up to 7% of respondents were considering leaving their current roles due to workplace culture. So, how can you identify a toxic workplace when they are interviewing you?  

The FlexJobs website recently published some fascinating data on the number of Americans looking to leave their current roles: a toxic workplace was number three on the list of reasons people were looking to leave companies. 42% of respondents seriously considered quitting their jobs, while 20% said they had already quit. Another survey from the American Psychological Association found that 22% of employees had felt that their job was having a detrimental effect on their mental health. We all know that sustained strain on your mental health can have an impact on your physical health. It’s straightforward to spot if you are working within a company and are experiencing it first-hand, but if you are on the outside, wondering if this company is a good fit for you, it can be pretty hard to spot. However, a few telling signs will alert you that this company might not be a good fit for you.   

The first one, which might sound obvious, is a poor interview process. It can be easy to overlook these things, but if communication with the company is limited, they continually pause and restart the interview process, being inflexible on interview times, and pressuring you to accept an offer on the day they offer it. All these things are telling signs that the company interviewing you might not be a satisfying workplace. Even during the interview, there may be signs that your interviewer is giving off, such as talking over your answers, being late and not apologising, and being generally disinterested in you. It’s also important to listen to what current employees say about the company – even through their body language and what they might not say. If certain statements sound vague, follow them up with questions that dig a bit deeper. These may help to clarify whether things like a small team or changes over the last year are part of a healthy workplace environment or are indicative of something else. Also, it might be worth looking at places like LinkedIn and Glassdoor to see what kind of turnover a company or firm has. If it seems people are leaving after a short period and leaving negative feedback, there might be a problem. You can see it as simply doing reference checks on your employer, just as they would do on you. If all these things flag up issues, you might want to do more checks, ask if you can speak to the team currently working there and get your information on what it is like to work there straight from the horse’s mouth, raise your concerns regarding any reviews as the clients may be able to shed some light on this.

It is hard to spot the signs of a toxic workplace if you look in from the outside. But just by trying to take note of some things that you might see during the interview process, you will be better able to judge whether a workplace has the culture you want to see. Getting a tour around before you start may also be a good thing to do so you can see everyone in action. Wanting to leave a toxic workplace can close your eyes to some of these faults, but knowing how to spot them will ensure you find yourself in the workplace you deserve to be in – one free of toxicity.  

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