There’s nothing worse than the thrill of making it all the way to landing the job after tons of interviews, only to find out that once you’re in the job that you’ve found yourself in a toxic work environment. Unfortunately, this happens to so many job seekers every day. A survey by Jobvite found that a third of employees resign in the first 90 days at a new company. 32% of these employees say that the company culture is the reason they left. As job seekers, you can sometimes forget that while potential employers are looking for the perfect match for their businesses, you’re looking for the perfect company for your career. It’s a bit like a dating app. You have to know when to swipe left when you have concerns, and swipe right when you’re excited about the company. Here’s how to figure it out.
Swipe Left on Potential Employers If:
1. They use a lot of “buzzwords”
This might not necessarily be an outright red flag, but it’s certainly something to look out for. Do they talk about their “fast-paced” environment? You might be expected to overwork yourself to keep up. Do they call themselves “innovative”? That might mean that there’s no stability and that things are always changing. Are they offering a “competitive” salary? They might be trying to pay you as little as they can get away with. (Pro tip: to check this one, use our handy Salary Benchmarking Tool.) These things might not be issues, but if you see vague “hypey” phrases like this, do your research.
2. The staff seem unhappy
When you go for the interview, pay attention to the employees. How do they react to you? What’s the atmosphere in the office like? Does there seem to be tension? Paying attention to the mood of the company’s current employees might help you avoid a toxic work environment.
3. They’re vague about the role
In the job spec, and later in the interviews, is it clear what would be expected of you? If not, it might be wise to swipe left. It could mean that you’d be expected to take on whatever tasks come up without a way to negotiate what’s realistic or what might merit a pay increase. It could also mean that the employer doesn’t understand the function or tasks of this role, leaving you open to exploitation. Make sure that you ask about things that aren’t clear. If you still don’t get solid answers, swipe left.
4. They make big promises without any written agreement
Many potential employers make big promises in interviews and during the offer stage, but it’s important that these are made official. You might have agreed to start on a lower salary with a promise of an increase later, but unless you get it in writing, you won’t have any way to officially negotiate this later. If a potential employer isn’t willing to put these things in writing, it’s best to give them a skip.
5. There don’t seem to be work-life boundaries
Ask your potential employers about their stance on work-life balance. If it seems like there’s a culture of being expected to work after hours or on weekends, that could be a reason to swipe left. If they’re vague about it, do your research. There are websites like Glassdoor that allow former employees to leave reviews about their previous employers and it could be a good way to figure out if the company values your time or not.
6. The potential employers ask offensive, personal, or inappropriate questions
There are some questions that don’t ever need to come up in an interview. Questions about your sexuality, political views, disabilities, and religion shouldn’t have any bearing on your potential employer’s decision. If you get asked questions regarding any of these, it should be a huge red flag.
7. The hiring process seems too rushed
Sometimes the hiring process is quick because it’s an automatic match. Other times, it might seem like the hiring process goes to quickly. Does the company seem desperate to hire as soon as possible? It could be a sign that there’s an issue with employee turnover. The company might be losing staff faster than they can hire them. Do your research and make sure that you’re certain about their reasons for hiring so quickly.
Swipe Right on Potential Employers if
1. There is clear communication, and defined expectations, and benefits in writing
Is what’s expected of you clearly defined in not only the job spec but also your interviews? Does your contract or employment offer include all the pay and benefits discussed? Are they open to renegotiating if there are areas of the contract that concern you? This is a big green flag and a great reason to swipe right.
2. The potential employers respect your time and that of their employees
If you can only be interviewed at a certain time, are they willing to work with you on your schedule? Do they start the interview on time? Are there opportunities to work from home? Can you work flexible hours so that you can be at appointments or so that you don’t miss your kid’s hockey game? These are all signs of a company that values your time.
3. The company’s values align with yours
Is the company passionate about more than just the bottom line? Are these values in line with yours? Do they give back to the community? Do they support areas that you’re passionate about? Aligned values are a huge part of making sure that you end up in a company culture that matches what you’re looking for.
4. They offer tools or technologies that you want to gain experience in
Is there a programme you really want to gain more experience using? Do you really want to develop your knowledge and skills on a certain kind of machinery the company uses? Would there be opportunities to learn technologies that you might not otherwise be exposed to? These are all reasons that a company might be a great fit for you.
5. The potential employers offer opportunities for career development and training
Is there a clear picture of where you could grow in this role? Do they offer mentorship or skills development opportunities? Are there opportunities to take on leadership roles as you prove yourself? A company that lets you grow and develop, that invests in you, is one to swipe right on.
6. There’s good employee retention
Do they have employees that have been a part of the company for a long time? If an employee leaves, is it for a reason that has nothing to do with the company? Do employees often come back to work for the company after leaving for a while? That’s a sign that this is a company worth being a part of and one that values its employees.
Hiring is a two-way street. As much as companies are interviewing and researching you, you should be interviewing and researching the companies you’re applying to. You have every right to be super happy in your job and making sure that it’s a match both ways is a big part of that. Don’t feel bad about swiping left if you have to and don’t be scared of swiping right if something seems great.