Just like personal relationships, working environments can be healthy or unhealthy, safe and fulfilling or full of red flags and warning signs. A new job can sound perfect on paper and might even start out full of promise and excitement but quickly change to a situation in which you feel disrespected, under-appreciated, and unwelcomed. A bad working environment can be very unhealthy.
Unlike personal relationships, though, it’s possible to get a sense of whether a new potential job location is a minefield of bad attitudes and stressful situations. Here are a few indications to look for that suggest a potential employer could be bad for your health.
The job description is vague or incomplete.
From reading the job post alone, do you have a sense of what you’ll be doing? Who you’ll report to? What will your main tasks entail? Understanding, of course, that things shift and change over time, if you read a job description and can’t get a sense of what’s going on, or the post is filled with buzzwords that don’t really mean much of anything, it might be better to keep searching than spend time applying.
Tension between interviewers.
As the interview process carries on, you’ll likely meet several members of the team you’d be working with, giving you a chance to get a sense of how people work together and what you’d be doing. It’s easy to tell if people get along and enjoy each other’s company and contributions or if there’s animosity or stress between two people. It might be a one-off thing, the result of a disagreement about a project just before your interview, or it might be a red flag of two members of a team fundamentally disagreeing with each other about everything. Especially in small groups, it’s important for everyone to be on the same page. If you get the sense from the interview that you’ll be asked — or forced — to pick sides, or if you get a gut sense that things aren’t going well, pay attention to your instinct.
The company has limited information available online.
This is the 21st century. Having a website and some presence on social media is almost a necessity for all companies these days, whatever they do. But if you can’t find a whole lot of information out there as you’re preparing to apply for a job or interview, that’s a bad sign. What are they hiding? Look for company reviews on pages like LinkedIn or GlassDoor or ZipRecruiter to see if former or current employees have left any comments about working there and see what they say. Unless it’s a spy agency of some sort, transparency is key and a company should be proud and eager to tout its accomplishments and work online. If you can’t find out more about the company from its own website or social presence, it might be outdated or trying to keep a lid on a bad situation.
The interview is a gossip session.
If you take an interview and you know more about the person you’d be replacing, or the other members of your team before you’ve met them, that’s a big red flag. A workplace in which it is so commonplace to talk openly about other employees is one in which everyone is on edge, trying to undercut other people in order to make themselves look better. There likely isn’t much support or camaraderie among teammates or colleagues and, when stress levels run high, you should be able to rely on your coworkers to have your back and help keep you motivated. Is your interviewer spilling secrets to someone who is a relative stranger? Get out before you get in too deep.
The interviewer doesn’t seem prepared.
It’s pretty common for someone interviewing for a job to ask questions during the interview: about the company, the position, the culture, etc. If you’ve done your homework and prepared — as you should! It reflects well on you to do that! — but the interviewer doesn’t have good answers ready for basic questions, or seems unprepared or unsure how to answer what you’re asking, that’s a red flag. Why don’t they know? Or are they avoiding the question by using buzzwords to try and make their answers sound impressive? If it feels like the interviewer is overcompensating or doesn’t know what to say, consider that a warning.
Ready to make a change in your life? Sterling Personnel can help you make a move!
Looking for a new job is stressful enough. Getting a gut feeling in the interview process, or beforehand, that things aren’t solid and steady at a new company is the last thing you need. Luckily, Sterling Personnel is ready to help! We partner with great companies and can help you find one that is free of red flags and warning signs. Browse our current career opportunities below to get started!