We’ve all been through it. The interview from hell. What does this say about the company you are interviewing with, and what should you do about it?


Toxic Job Description

You’ve found your dream job on one of the job boards, or maybe even on the career site of what you think could be your dream company. Uh-oh. The title of the job doesn’t seem to match the responsibilities and expectations. Are they trying to get more than they can pay for? Or, the job description is far too brief. The title sounds right and the company is a good one, but do they know what they want? How could you know what they want if they don’t?

Toxic Courtesy

From the time someone from the company contacts you in response to your application for the job, everyone you talk to or meet with should be polite. You are essentially a guest of this company. Rudeness from any one at any level is a RED FLAG. Rude receptionists should be an oxymoron! HR people that are too busy to answer your questions or get back to you in a timely manner aren’t doing their job. Interviewers who are late or unprepared aren’t representing their firm well, and aren’t respectful of your time and your interest.

Toxic Social Media

As you do your research on this company in preparation for your interview finding a pattern of low satisfaction in the company’s products or services or seeing multiple bad reviews on reputation management sites is a sign of something wrong at this company. Address these bad reviews in your interview and see how the company responds. Everyone gets some bad reviews but answering why and being transparent about what they are doing in response to these concerns is very revealing.

Toxic Turnover

Always ask, “How many people have had this position in the last five years? Where are each of them now.” If most of them are no longer with the firm, run for the hills. If during your research you find out the company has a reputation for churning through staff, try to contact some of those people who have left, or address the issue in your interview. You don’t want to work in a revolving door company.

Toxic Process

You have to come back multiple times. Getting the right people on your schedule seems to be very difficult. You’ve been rescheduled multiple times. The process is too quick. Getting a body in the seat is more important than who the body is. They tell you that you are the lead candidate and then you don’t hear from them for two weeks, or three, or four.

Toxic Atmosphere

As you visit the office for your interviews, take note of the environment. Messy office can mean messy work structure. Is the office extraordinarily quiet? This could indicate a lack of teamwork or excitement about their work, or a sullen, head down , tense workplace. Do you prefer and work better in an open layout or private offices? Is the interaction of the staff structured or free flowing? If you are never interviewed in the location where you will be working, request it. They could be hiding something.

Toxic Gut

The interview process should be informative and transparent. Even if they don’t always know the answers to your questions, the effort to be open and engaged says as much as a specific answer. A willingness to positively talk about their team and have you meet members of the team at all levels is essential for your decision making. Listen to your second brain. If your gut says no, you should, too.

Interested in starting a job search? Contact the recruiters at Smith Hanley Associates. We would love to help you through the, hopefully, non-toxic interview process.

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