Published: Jul 18, 2023By Rosemary Scott
Pictured: Candidate handing over their resume/iStock, Drazen Zigic
Securing a job interview is no small task, and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the job search.
However, it’s essential to remember that the interview is not just an opportunity for the employer to evaluate your suitability for the role. It's also an opportunity for you to evaluate the company and its culture.
5 Signs of a Toxic Workplace
Recognizing potential red flags during an interview can help you identify a toxic workplace and make an informed decision. Here are five red flags to look out for that may be indicative of a toxic workplace.
1. Negative or Unengaged Interviewers
During an interview, pay close attention to the attitude and behavior of the interviewers. If they seem disinterested, dismissive or negative throughout the conversation, it might be indicative of a toxic work environment. This is more likely to happen in later-round interviews when the hiring manager will often bring in other members of the team to meet you.
A toxic workplace often manifests through poor leadership, which leads to decreased employee engagement. If the interviewers don’t exhibit enthusiasm about the company or the role, it may indicate a broader problem within the organization.
2. High Turnover and Frequent Openings
One of the most apparent signs of a toxic workplace is a consistently high turnover rate and frequent job openings. If the company has a reputation for high employee turnover, there is likely a reason employees aren’t sticking around.
You can inquire about the average tenure of employees or politely ask about the reasons behind the vacancy for which you’re interviewing. A revolving door of employees can indicate issues with management, a lack of growth opportunities and more.
3. A Lack of Clarity or Transparency
During the interview process, pay attention to the information provided and the level of transparency shown by the hiring manager. Red flags may arise if they dodge or provide vague answers to direct questions about the company culture, employee benefits or potential challenges of the role.
A toxic workplace can thrive on secrecy, a lack of clear communication and a hierarchical structure that hinders the flow of information. For example, if you were told there were three rounds of interviews, and after the third, the hiring manager asks for more, this could be a sign that management has manipulative tendencies or is simply too disorganized to provide clear expectations.
4. Inflated Salary
If a salary seems too good to be true, it probably is. When you see a salary that is much higher than postings for similar roles, be wary. Listen carefully to the expectations the employer has for the role and ask specifically about the hours they expect you to work.
If the employer has unrealistic expectations, such as an excessive workload, long hours or open availability, it could indicate a toxic work environment.
5. No Opportunities for Growth and Development
A company that invests in the growth and development of its employees is more likely to have a positive work environment. During the interview, inquire about professional development opportunities, mentorship programs or potential career paths within the organization. Ask how you can move up within the organization if you take the role, and make sure to ask for a timeline for this expected growth.
Stagnation and lack of growth opportunities can hinder your professional development. If the company does not prioritize employee growth or lacks a clear plan for advancement, it could be a sign of a toxic workplace.
Recognizing the signs of a toxic workplace during an interview is crucial for making an informed decision about a job offer. Remember, interviews are not just for employers to evaluate you; they also provide an opportunity for you to evaluate the company.
Trust your instincts and take these red flags seriously before committing to a new job. By being vigilant during the interview process, you can increase your chances of finding a healthy and fulfilling work environment that helps you reach your career goals.