I think we can all agree that getting a new job is usually exciting! But sometimes, in our rush to want to get the job and start it as soon as possible, we miss signs that maybe this isn't the ideal place to work.
Thousands of people replied with the red flags they look out for. Here are some of the top-voted and best answers:
1. "If everyone you meet has been working there less than two years and it isn't a startup."
"Or the flip side: I once worked in a place where everyone had been there 15-plus years except one other person who had just started eight months before me.
Needless to say, there wasn’t much career progression, and the people there were just counting their years (or days) until they retired and didn’t give a shit about anything.
Red flag was definitely the newest person training me instead of the ones who were there a long time."
2. "'Work hard, play hard' = 'You won’t have a life outside the office, but we’ll pump you full of booze!'"
"Not a drinker, but decided to give it a go after the place I worked at fired someone that regularly didn't show up for the 'optional' binge drinking happy hours. He wasn't a team player."
'"We work hard, and we play hard.'
I once asked for an example of some of the fun things they’ve done as a work team, and the answer I got was special cookies that were recently brought in. Yeah, I’m sure that makes the 55-hour work week worth it."
5. "Hearing things like: 'Were like a family' or 'Be willing to work in a fast-paced environment.' This is just code for 'we will guilt you into doing things beyond your job, and we are poorly managed.'"
"I can confirm. Don't apply for any job with the words 'fast-paced environment' and 'multi-tasking.' You will have a low title, poor pay, be doing the work of five different positions, and will not be respected."
"'We're like a family' means 'I have no friends outside of my subordinates at work.'"
7. "If there are some very, very new workers and a group that has been there from the start, just know you're going to be treated like shit by the latter."
8. "If all of the other employees look sullen and depressed. If you walk into the office area and feel like you've walked into a funeral service. Nobody's smiling, nobody's laughing, nobody looks remotely happy or content. Just turn around, and walk back to your car. That is not a good place to be working at."
9. "If you ever hear a higher-up say anything along the lines of 'I don’t have to do that because I’m a X.'"
"As a manager/owner/lead/etc., your job is to support your team. If that means as a store owner you’re cleaning puke off the bathroom floor, guess what? You’re cleaning puke off the bathroom floor.
If you ever see a boss refusing to help when it’s busy or delegating a task poorly (e.g. the blinds guy has to go pick stock while your boss hangs out in the back room taking calls), quit."
10. "Oh, man, I feel like my workplace is filled with red flags. Like tonight, for example, we had a 16-year-old get fired for being drunk while on the job and unable to function. They fired the kid about a month ago; I show up today, and that same kid who they fired got his job back and was at work tonight. It's sad when a place of business is so hard up on finding workers that they will rehire someone they just fired."
11. "I went for a job interview that heavily promoted their Friday night team events. I said I have two little kids so I'd have to skip most of those. They acted like I just took a shit on their desk."
12. "Extremely high pay for what is a very simple, low-effort job. Bonus points if they have a sign that says 'now hiring' outside, year-round. This indicates that even with a high pay rate, they can't keep people on."
"Oh, god, my job is like that. For minimal effort, we make $15-plus an hour starting and $18-plus if you are a lead. (I should note this is rural-ish Minnesota, so 15-plus is quite good.) The job takes no effort at all, we are always hiring, and we go through staff like a chainsmoker with cigs."
13. "Conveniently small amount of Glassdoor reviews, and all glowing. Company I used to work for was awful, and they had loads of 1-star reviews (with a lot of substance behind them). Conveniently enough, they've all gone recently, to be replaced by a handful of 5-star ones."
14. "When your supervisor and/or coworkers act like they think you hung the moon and stars by the end of the first month."
"In my experience, this behavior just means that 1.) they are two-faced backstabbers who talk shit and spread rumors about you, and/or 2.) they have very black-and-white thinking, and you’re handling a time bomb. Meaning, if they think you’re an 'amazing' person, and you do one little thing they don’t like, such as make a mistake or ask them to correct something, they do a hard 180 and decide you deserve their eternal hatred. 😒"
"Or 3.) Their standards are so low that you're genuinely the best employee they have because the workplace is so full of shit people."
15. "If you get asked in interviews about how you deal with workplace conflict and how you get along with difficult personalities. If they’re asking about how you deal with difficult customers, that’s one thing. If they basically ask how you handle a toxic work environment, it’s going to be a toxic work environment. I very naively learned this the hard way."
16. "Being hired on the spot."
"They hire you on the spot and have you start immediately. There’s a reason they’re that desperate to fill a spot; nobody wants to be there, LOL."
"If at the job interview, on the spot, they ask me to fill in new employee details, bank details, and tax file number info. I'm expecting to be interviewed, not hired on the spot. Red flags galore there."
17. "If during the interview phase, you get calls or emails from people at the company outside of their regular work hours, then it is a sign that the company does not have good life/work balance. One company I ended up working at initially reached out to me on a national holiday. I never once thought, why is this person working today? But in hindsight, I should have."
18. "There are a lot of hindsight tips here. You won’t know the hiring manager quit until you started; you won’t always get to see the common areas and group interactions if you’re ushered to a conference room and meet with a lineup. Having worked at both a large investment bank and a large tech company, both of which are considered industry leaders, but both equally terrible to work for, here are the red flags that I could have spotted before I accepted/from the interviews:"
"1. People talking about what opportunities the roles open up to you. It means the job itself is total trash, and you will hate it, but you do it for what’s after. For most, that next step doesn’t happen before the burnout forces them out.
2. Do your interviewers show up on time? Are they constantly checking their phones? Do they end it immediately on time even if the next person isn’t ready? This shows a few things, like how tight and busy are people. It’s good to be busy, but not so busy that you can’t take 30 minutes to meet with someone. It also shows where priorities lie in terms of new talent acquisition.
3. Ask people what they do for fun and how often they engage in those activities. Look for answers that show a lack of energy or time on the weekends. This will obviously vary by people and their personal interests, but if you ask all your interviewers the same question, you can look for trends.
4. Ask people where they see their careers in three to five years. This can be a good indicator for how quickly they feel they can move up and how much development is in the role. It’s important to understand how the company promotes as well. Look for answers that show that people have the time and ability to think about growing in the future. At the tech company, a lot of people said, 'I’m not sure, I haven’t thought about it,' which in hindsight should have been an indicator that they didn’t have the time or tools to develop themselves.
These are not hard rules, and there will always be exceptions, but regardless, look for leading indicators of a bad situation."