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Should I Interview at a Company That Has Overwhelmingly Negative Reviews?

Posted by Eileen Hoenigman Meyer

Career Advice Expert

Last Updated Mar 21, 2018
|5 min read

It’s a thrill to get that hard-earned ping from a prospective employer. It confirms that your candidacy package is a hit and you’re a hot prospect.

But that sense of excitement can quickly give way to concern when you peruse the prospect’s Glassdoor profile to discover a trove of negative feedback: the CEO sports a painfully low approval rating; review after review radiates discontent.   

How does it impact your interview game plan when a prospective employer has terrible Glassdoor reviews?

To meet or not to meet

If you get an invitation to interview, pursuing the meeting is usually a good plan, even if you have concerns. Your interview skills get better with practice; therefore, it’s a sound strategy to snap up the opportunity, especially if you’re a less-seasoned professional. Keep in mind, too, that building your network within your industry tends to be a savvy move.  

However, you may encounter deal breakers as you review Glassdoor feedback, and it’s important to discuss those as they relate to the position you’re seeking. For example, you may learn that it’s hard to be a working parent at this company because the schedule is 9-6 with no exceptions. If you can’t accommodate hours that span the time after most daycare centers and after-school programs close, then this professional culture may not be a fit for you.

It would still be in your best interest, though, to discuss this with the recruiter or hiring manager. Let them know that you did some preliminary research, and you’re concerned about the required hours. Those on the hiring side can let you know if the feedback remains relevant or if the employer has amended the required hours in response to staff input. If not, then it may not be worth your effort to pursue a meeting.

But in many cases, the opportunity to interview can be professionally beneficial, so you should consider accepting the invitation, despite your concerns.

Pursue the company’s side of the story

Before you make a judgment on this employer, make sure to thoroughly study their Glassdoor profile. While companies can’t remove comments that reviewers make, they have the chance to respond. So they can indicate changes they’ve made, speak to issues they’ve addressed or discuss leadership changes that may have ushered in a new era.

Go full FBI on the reviews. Note the dates the reviews were submitted. See if you can observe patterns: was there a particular division or team that was garnering negative reviews? Does feedback center on a past CEO or is the current leadership generating negative responses?

Also, note whether or not the company has responded to the reviews. Doing so can have powerful implications. It suggests a willingness to address internal issues. It also demonstrates the problem-solving language the company culture espouses. This can help inform your gut instincts about the company.

Recruiters can help

If you’re working with a recruiter, s/he may be aware of the negative Glassdoor feedback. A recruiter can offer helpful insights, as s/he may have a sense of how the company has been evolving and changing to repair past damage.

The recruiter you work with may not offer this information, but s/he may be able to provide insight if you ask about it.  So hear it and consider it, but also pay attention to your own observations and to your gut.

Informed candidates are in demand

Remember, it’s your job is to do this reconnaissance in the interest of becoming an informed candidate. According to a Glassdoor survey conducted among hiring decision makers, 88% agree that quality candidates are informed candidates. You are not digging up dirt by conducting this research. You are doing research that’s relevant to your potential fit in a new job, and to the vast majority of employers, this makes you a more desirable candidate.   

But because it can be delicate, make sure to strategically formulate your communications.  While it’s fine to say: “Several mid-2017 Glassdoor reviewers mentioned that the professional culture felt stressful and that they craved more structure from leadership. I notice that this was also the time when the new CEO came on board. I wonder if you could speak to that, and explain changes you’ve noticed since she’s acclimated to the role.” You would want to steer clear of saying something like: “Several mid-2017 Glassdoor reviewers said that the leadership change was not going well and that they had concerns about the leadership abilities of the new CEO.”

Think through your concerns and write your questions out ahead of time so you’re fully prepared and you can get the lowdown that you need to make a good decision about potential fit. That’s the important thing here. That’s why Glassdoor amasses this feedback.

It’s in your best interest to learn as much as you can about this employer, so that if you get an offer you can make an informed decision about whether or not this position and this employer fits your life.  

Good Luck!

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