A lit up warning sign against a black brick background.
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Watch out for these warning signs of a toxic work environment

29 Oct 2020

Worried about accepting a job offer and finding yourself in a toxic work environment? Watch out for these signs in the recruitment process.

Most companies today are pretty vocal about their culture and employee benefits. Many will even have whole sections of their website dedicated to the topic. But how can you know if these descriptions are accurate or honest? You could accept an offer for your dream job and find yourself caught up in a toxic work environment, so being prepared to make a call on this is key.

First of all, it’s important to look at the building blocks for a healthy company culture. A business might provide you with free meals, stylish bean bags and branded sports bottles. But if it makes no effort to achieve better diversity and inclusion or to invest in employee development, those add-ons might not be worth it. This is especially true in a newly remote world where people may not be able to access offices but still want to get to know their colleagues.

Of course, you’re not going to be able to examine every aspect of a potential employer’s culture and conduct before you accept a job offer. Taking on a new job is always going to be a leap of faith. However, your interview can be a great opportunity to glean as much information as possible.

There are warning signs to be mindful of during the hiring process, according to this infographic from Resume.io. These can pop up before, during and after your interview. Pre-interview red flags to watch out for include vague job descriptions, which can be a sign that the company isn’t entirely sure what they’ll want or expect from you.

If the panel can’t answer your questions about company values during your interview, it could mean that those values aren’t being given much attention. And waiting weeks for a response after you’ve finished your interview could be an indication of how you’d be treated if you did accept the job.

Any well-organised interview will give you time to ask some questions of your own. After all, hiring teams should recognise that you’ll also be assessing them to establish if the job is right for you. If you’re eager to know more about a company’s culture and  work environment, Resume.io shares sample questions you can consider asking.

These include ‘What do you like most about working here?’ and ‘What are the challenges of this position?’ Listening to the responses and taking in the visual cues that accompany them could help you get a sense of what to expect.

Infographic showing the warning signs of a toxic work environment.

Click to enlarge. Infographic: Resume.io

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Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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