A while back, I published two articles that combined produced over 1,000,000 views, and sparked a tremendous conversation surrounding corporate cultures, management styles, and effective versus failing organizations. In case you missed them: 7 Management Traits that Will Make All Your Employees Quit and 7 Signs it is Time to Quit Your Job. In these two articles, I told the story of a toxic work environment that I endured that resulted in all of the employees in my regional office to either be fired or quit in less than a year. There were some signs throughout the interview process that should have thrown up red flags and sent me packing. However, I chose to ignore them. If you ignore them too and enter into a company that has a toxic culture, here are a few rather unpleasant side effects that I experienced that you might too:
- High Stress
- Anxiety Attacks
- Loss of Professional Motivation
- Pit in Your Stomach Feeling on Sunday Nights
- Damaged Personal Relationships
Here are the warning signs that I ignored. Hopefully, by me putting these out there, they may be of assistance to some of you in your career advancement endeavors, and you will avoid making the mistake I did.
1) Your future boss speaks poorly about current staff in the interview.
In the interview with my prospective boss, he was very negative towards his current staff in the way he talked about them. He used flattery towards me but put down his current team by saying things like, “I can’t wait to get a real sales executive in here that can show these yahoos how it’s done.” Consider this quote from Gregg Stocker, author of Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral.
“Ask what the company’s problems are and what their causes might be. If the answers to these questions consist of blaming others in the organization, especially those on his or her team, the person lacks trust in others.”
2) Your future boss comes across as self-absorbed.
If your boss keeps talking about how great he/she is during the interview they might be self-absorbed. Working for a self-absorbed boss ensures that your work will go largely unnoticed and he/she will use every opportunity to take credit for any of your success without giving you the credit deserved.
3) The interviewer is late.
The second interviewer was a senior manager. He showed up 15 minutes late for the interview. This individual appeared disorganized, and it seemed like he had not even reviewed my resume prior to the meeting. I was struck by just how unprofessional the interviewer was.
4) The company has a history of high turnover.
Make sure to do some research regarding the turnover rate for not only the company you are applying for, but the specific position. A good starting point is Glassdoor.com. It will enable you to see what their current and former employees are saying anonymously. If you want to take a step further you could even do an advanced search on LinkedIn to find employees in your position and reach out to them for feedback. Most people are happy to help out and if you’re headed for a train wreck they will gladly give you a heads up. To my own credit, I did do research. However, once again I ignored the warning signs.
5) They put a lot of pressure on you to take the position.
In my case, my prospective employer put a lot of pressure on me to take the job. It was like they were trying to hard close a deal. I got emails and phone calls practically begging me to go to work there. Then they put an aggressive deadline on me that forced me to make a decision much faster than I was comfortable with.
6) You’re not sure if your values align with the company’s.
If after going through the interview process and doing research on the company, you are questioning the company’s values. Think long and hard about whether or not you will be able to be happy working at a company where your personal values may conflict the company’s way of doing business. Weigh how much of a conflict it will be, and whether or not it is worth the compromise you would have to make. Trust your gut on this one. Initially, I got a bad feeling regarding this company’s culture. I talked myself into thinking otherwise.
7) The offer letter contains a lower salary than what was communicated to you verbally.
When I received my offer letter, it was $5,000 less than what had been offered to me over the phone. I quickly pointed out the discrepancy to their HR Coordinator and they fixed it. However, again this was a sign of things to come in regards to the way they did business, not only with their employees but their customers as well.
If you read the first two articles and made it to this point in this one, you are probably wondering. “How in the world did you ignore these warning signs and end up taking this job?” Well that is a very valid question, and one that my wife asked me several times since. There is one reason and one reason only, MONEY. I was blinded by the almighty dollar. They offered me a higher salary, better commission structure, and substantial signing bonus. At the time my wife and I were remodeling and putting a major addition onto our home. We were paying for construction costs, mortgage, rent at an apartment (the project was too substantial for us to live there with a small child), and daycare. Needless to say, we were a little short on cash, and the opportunity to make more money right away was very attractive.
Life lesson learned: Money is not everything. There are other things to contemplate when considering a job offer like your peace of mind and happiness. Money should never be the only reason you are taking a job!
To sum this up, if your prospective employer possesses a few of these warnings signs you should think long and hard before accepting the offer. If they possess all of these interview warning signs, get out of there as fast as you can!
Now I will turn it back over to you all. Job seekers, did you find this helpful? Why or why not? To the people that have worked at or are currently working at a company that has a toxic culture (And I know you’re out there because I heard from 1000’s of you). What were the interview warning signs that YOU ignored? Please comment below.
About the Author: John White is the Social Media Marketing Director at Career Toolbox USA and Social Business Strategies, a proud dad, MBA candidate, digital enthusiast, marketing expert, and influential blogger.
Follow Me on Twitter: @juanblanco76 & @CareerToolboxUS & @SBSpartnersLLC
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