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Interviewing for a new job is just as much time for the employer to see if you're a good fit as it is for you. There are a few things that you might want to ask about to get a good idea of the workplace culture.

The answers to those questions are going to paint you a good picture of what it's like to work there. And sometimes that picture is not pretty.

Toxic work environments are not worth the headache, even if it's a good paying job. We made a list of some of the red flags to look out for in the job interview.


Redditor RexJgeh asked:

"What are some red flags during job interviews that scream 'toxic workplace?'"

Take notes!


They didn't have an answer.

"I asked the manager, "What are you most proud of when it comes to your staff?'"

"They couldn't think of anything."

- carolinatraveler

"One time I asked an interviewer what their favorite part of working there was and her response was, 'Umm….. Umm…. Honestly, I'm not sure let me think.'"

"Literally it took her 30 seconds to come up with anything and her only response was, 'We start really early in the morning so it's great to get off work at 2:00.'"

"Lmao BYE!!!"

- waterbaby333

"I'm going to try to remember this, and use it next time it seems fitting. I enjoy asking bosses questions that don't beat around the bush, like 'What am I doing wrong and how can I improve?' when they come to my work area complaining about stuff. They have NEVER EVER had an answer yet."

- WatchRare

"I took a job that seemed very promising. The first month was gold. We were making progress, adding to the team, etc. by month three, things all but shifted. The owner was lying to clients, work was entirely disorganized and their moods went from optimistic to scared."

"At my 90 day review, which was actually my 110 day review, the boss asked me what I was proud of. And because of the tension of the last week and my decision to leave because of the chaos, I literally said 'I appreciate my ability to stay tall in a windstorm. But aside from that, nothing.' We ended the meeting and I decided to put in my notice, but I figured I'd give it more thought, so I decided not to be impulsive."

"For whatever reason I decided to give it another week. And the boss gives me a call and cowardly laid me off and gave me a 12k severance. Glad I didn't quit."

- SPAREustheCUTTER

Time is everything.

"The shorter the interview, the more desperate the company is to just hire someone."

"Bonus points if the person currently in the position you're interviewing for has worked there for less than a year."

- EfficientAnteater995

"Literally had a single 30-minute interview (that I thought was an initial) for a major position (that wasn't even the original position I applied for) and was offered the job about an hour later."

"…run away"

- Lit-Nerd-14

"Only if they offer you the job. If you have a short interview and dont get an offer, it means you bombed the first couple of questions and they had more to do with their time."

"Source: recently went through dozens of interviews with unqualified candidates and after one where the guy had no relevant experience and couldn't answer basic questions like 'in a project, do you identify yourself as a leader, work horse, or other?'"

"We had to have a serious talk with the recruitment team about the folks they were greenlighting for interviews."

- ironwheatiez

Unnecessary overtime.

"I was trying to find a better advertising job and during an interview I asked about how much overtime I could expect."

"Owner of the company goes, 'Well, you know, we try to get home on time, we do try. But, hey, this is the life we chose.'"

"Dude, you make billboards for restaurants...you're not saving lives here. The most frustrating part about working in advertising is that so many of the late nights could be avoided with slightly better management and less over-promising to the client. Glad I'm out of it, now."

- SeaTie

"This is something I had to emphasize to a manager. My office was hit hard by COVID, and I happily put in the overtime, and still do when we get hit by surges of COVID work, because delays can literally mean death."

"But before COVID, we were a 40 hour a week office with very rare overtime. COVID seemed to transform the expectations that we'd just stay on our extended schedules forever, and would take in that much more routine work to replace COVID work."

"But I don't want 30 extra hours of routine overtime work. No one dies because we aren't doing that work. I could make 3 times as much elsewhere with the expectation that I work 80 hours a week. I intentionally chose the lower-paid, 40-hour job."

- Fadnn6

"The last place I worked at the Marketing staff had a saying 'the struggle is real.' The Marketing manager wasn't allowed to talk to the Technology department UI developer because the developer thought the manager was way too mean."

- BlackDogMagPie

"Advertising is one of the most fucked up, toxic industries I've ever worked in. No client, agency trust. Many many agencies' only competitive edge is to underprice their work. Work their employees to death without batting an eye. Don't distribute their revenue streams so they lose a client and there goes 40% of their billing and subsequently their staff. Employees constantly throwing each other under the bus. And employees are grossly underpaid."

"Definitely don't miss going into work and seeing 1/3 of the company gone one day and wondering if I'm next."

- bensonnd

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Look for the subtext.

"'Fast-paced, dynamic environment' can be code for 'look, we don't have our sh*t together.'"

- KinkMountainMoney

"'Expect to be putting out a ton of fires.'"

- ur_boy_skinny

"'We all wear several hats here!' = You'll work 5 different jobs and get paid for 1."

- hideyourbeans

"'You'll wear many hats,'" means they're going to make you do what should be the jobs of several different people."

- Redd_October

"Got told once for my first job's orientation: 'No one here is above cleaning toilets! We all help each other out,' …. Actually, I didn't go to school to clean sh*t off of the company toilets sorry."

- waterbaby333

"This one makes me mad. When I was first hired to fix the organization I'm currently at, the department head would not place our buildings on the janitorial rotation. It wasn't because there was no funding for it or anything, oh no, it was because that was what the night shift was for. I couldn't believe how insulting he was and that he felt it was perfectly acceptable to make employees clean toilets that every staff member used. We have janitorial services now, but dang that made me angry back then."

- nunchucket

Work and play.

"'We work hard and play hard here.'"

- trizzleatl

"Also known as, 'There's a lot of overtime, but we put up a Ping-Pong table to make up for that. Also we have weekly social events that we legally can't force you to attend, but that you really should attend.'"

- Rannasha

"Also, the Ping-Pong table isn't in a separated space so in case someone does play, the people who are trying to focus on their work will look like d*ckheads if they try to speak up about the noise! It's a cool new way to create unnecessary strife between coworkers!"

- CitrusyDeodorant

The desperation.

"No interview, just, 'Can you start tomorrow?'"

- _BIG_DUMB_IDIOT

"Lol the only time I've heard this was when I was applying to summer jobs in high school and one place I applied to was Vector marketing (a pyramid scheme company). Luckily, someone told me it was a pyramid scheme before I actually started 'working' there."

- Think_Tie8025

"When I was young, I had an interview at a car wash."

"It wasn't 'start tomorrow,' it was 'start right now.'"

- Thneed1

"I was kind of put off when my current job was pretty much that, but I kinda knew why. COVID gave them a lot more work than they had employees for, I was recommended by someone we both knew, and they guy I was replacing was only leaving after 6 years to start his dream career."

Still very off putting when I didn't send in a resume... I don't even think I told them what I was doing for work at the time."

"But they treat me well and were completely prepared if I came in with absolutely 0 knowledge of the field. Almost 2 months in and it's great. I guess it varies from job to job."

- irishdude1212

A few Redditors mentioned there are some jobs that just don't need an extensive interview process.

"Literally any job in food service lmao."

- robotred12

"That led to one if my best jobs. Not even 'can you start tomorrow?' But 'can you start right now?'"

"The job was with a catering company, washing dishes for cirque de soleil. The dude paid me 15$/hr to wash dishes (this was like 10 years ago to). When I got a gig playing a show 4 nights a week he was cool with it and told me to chase my dreams and let me work the other shifts, hiring a pt guy to cover my lost shifts."

"Everyone there was super friendly and we had a lot of laughs."

- UniverseBear

If the first person you see isn't having a good time...

"Irritable and/or nasty receptionist."

"Just don't even bother trying to navigate the minefield of a place where even the person who is paid to smile can't quite manage it. Life is too short."

- adhdmademenotdoit

"I used to be able to avoid applying places where people didn't seem happy. Not a thing anymore. And you can barely trust Glassdoor."

- thebuzziest

"Lmao I looked up a company I was applying to once and saw a Glassdoor review from someone who gave it 5 stars and really talked it up. I googled their name and they were the f*cking CEO pretending to be someone in a lower position. Red flags for me."

- SuperSaiyanTrunks

"They have a high turnover rate."

- gokakarotku

"It is very easily one of the questions you ask the interviewer, 'How many people have joined the company in the last two years?' If the answer is a lot, but don't have growth of the company to show for it, that means it's just people quitting that they need to backfill. I've also asked 'What is the average tenure of people in your group?' to get a sense for how long people have been willing to work for this manager."

- FreeDummy

"Turns out the opposite can be a problem as well. At my current job, the vast majority of my coworkers have been there 20-30 years. Not a great environment."

- ka36

Co-workers are not family.

"'We're a family here.'"

"Fell for that once. Never again. It was family until people got greedy and backstabbed each other. It's also where I came up with the 'drowning cat' analogy. If a cat is in water, it will claw the absolute sh*t out of anything it can to get out of the water. Get enough of them together and they will shred each other to pieces and still get nowhere (no, I would never do this, it's an analogy...)."

- 1234_Temp_qwer

"Dude, my family is abusive. When they say this, I cringe."

- Seaweed_Cold

"The family one is a huge red flag for me. I worked at a place that always talked about the team members being like a family. It meant you felt horrible about calling in sick, they'd guilt you into working over time because of the culture, and when you finally put in your leave or told them you where leaving you where treated like nothing. Bosses use the family thing to guilt you into being a slave!! My boss even tried to guilt us into coming in on the weekend and working for free!!!"

- Turtbergs

"Crab bucket mentality it's called."

"Crabs will pull other crabs down if they try to escape a bucket rather than climb out themselves."

- Tkieron

A current employee gave a tip.

"An employee looks up at you and slowly shakes their head while you are on a tour with management..."

"This happened while I interviewed at a competitor to my former employer. They were trying to poach me, and I was sick of my previous employer, so I went in and talked. They talked a good game and nearly had me convinced to join. We went through on a final tour and one of the employees made a subtle "stay away if you know what's good for you" gesture towards me while I was walking by."

"That guy saved me a lot of heartache because 6 months later the company lost a major contract, laid off 25% of the team and cut everyone else's pay by 25%+. I only know because one of my former colleagues went there and it hurt him financially."

- 1234_Temp_qwer

"What a legend."

- 97Andersuh

Just creepy vibes.

"I interviewed for an administrative management position with a smaller magazine publisher. There were rumors about the owner of the publication (not an easy person to work for)."

"I sit with an interview panel first for thirty minutes - Shipping Manager, Accountant, Legal, Layout Editor. Each of them introduces themselves in a very clipped manner. Each asked one question, read from a piece of paper. As I answered the question, no one took notes, no one asked any backup questions."

"Then I met with the CFO. The receptionist had to go back to her desk to get the office keys because the CFO's office door was locked. It was always locked. Meet with the CFO, and he asks the exact same four questions the panelists asked. He, too - no notes, no follow up questions."

"The I met with the owner. His office looked like it was meant to be a training room. Huge amounts of space, and lots of dead-animal themes art-ing up the place. I sat with the owner for about an hour. It seemed a pretty reasonable discussion. Then the final couple of questions."

"Him: 'You've met most of my primary managers. What do you think?'"

"Me: 'To be honest, they all seemed disinterested in the interview.'"

"Him: 'I know they are. I'll make the decision on who to hire. I just want them to have a favorite.'"

"*DING DING DING DING*"

"Effing creeepy vibes. Lock-down environment. Managers dealing with a psycho boss. And the money person's office always locked? Nope."

- Yabloski

Employers who are desperate will say anything to make you work for them. It's important to keep your eyes and ears open for red flag that clue you in on what's really going on.

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