When you’re searching for a new job, reading reviews is a common way to vet a company. However, if you see an exceptional opportunity at a company that has a bad review, you might wonder if applying is a poor idea.
Often, negative reviews should serve as red flags, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically bypass the job. Instead, you’ll want to consider a few other factors. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here’s how to decide whether you should work for a company with a bad review.
Examine All of the Reviews
First, you need to determine if the negative review you read is a one-off or part of a larger pattern. At any company, a few employees will ultimately end up unhappy. They might not fit into the culture, may not have the skills to perform well in the role, or might have been reprimanded for an issue they created. As a result, a negative review or two doesn’t always make the company a bad place to work.
Ideally, you want to go through as many reviews as possible, both positive and negative. Look for patterns in what’s shared, particularly any drawbacks mentioned in otherwise good reviews that correlate with points made in negative ones. That will give you a clearer picture of the average experience, as well as the company’s culture and the nature of the work.
Take Negative Reviews in Context
As you go through the various reviews, you need to take them with a grain of salt. Many negative reviews are left by disgruntled former employees. For example, the person may have been terminated for a reason they view as unfair, even though most other professionals would agree with the company’s actions.
Additionally, individuals with a poor experience are far more likely to write reviews than satisfied employees. People like to air their grievances but aren’t as inclined to speak out when everything is fine. As a result, you may only get part of the story through reviews, so keep that in mind.
Decide If the Negatives Matter
When it comes to the bad points made in reviews, you need to decide if you consider them deal breakers. For instance, if you see several complaints about the lack of remote work opportunities, but you prefer to be in an office, then that negative doesn’t apply to you.
Similarly, negative reviews may be focused on a single department. If you join a different team, those bad reviews could be irrelevant to you.
Use Your Interview to Learn More
In some cases, interviewing at a company with bad reviews can give you enough information to make the right decision. You’ll get to see the environment first-hand if you interview in person, which could reveal what you need to know.
Additionally, you can ask the hiring manager about the negative reviews during the interview. In most cases, the hiring manager will give you the floor right before the meeting wraps up, so feel free to mention what you’ve seen and gauge their response.
Ultimately, at least interviewing with the company is a safe option. If you don’t like what you discover, you can remove yourself from contention in a follow-up email or turn down an offer if one arrives. The risk is essentially non-existent, all while creating an opportunity to potentially land a great job at a company that’s far better than the reviews suggest.
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