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5 Ways a Company Is Telling You It’s Toxic During Job Interviews

By | Brooke Schwartz |

Some days it feels like all I hear and talk about are the toxic workplaces consuming the time and energy of my clients. And while it’s my ethical obligation as a psychotherapist to honor their rights to self-determination, I can’t help but want to—and admittedly sometimes do—tell them to “Get out!”

That’s because I know firsthand what it’s like to navigate a toxic work environment, to exist (albeit barely) within one. I’ve been blamed for mistakes that arose from vague direction and scant guidance, been called “unprofessional” for quitting due to a lack of interpersonal fit, and asked myself the invaluable question: “Would I still have taken this job if I’d known how toxic the workplace would be?”

If you’ve ever been in a toxic work environment, pause and ask yourself this question. Many of you will say no, but a few will give the answer that intrigues me most: “Yes, but it would have been helpful to know ahead of time just how toxic it was going to be.”

Knowing from a job interview that the workplace will be toxic won’t always mean you can reject an offer—for example, if your student loan payments are due or you need to make rent and feed your family. In these cases, spotting a toxic workplace in a job interview can help you manage your expectations and emotions more effectively and strategically when you have no other option but to enter it. And in doing so, you’ll be able to prepare to cope with inevitably toxic situations.

On the flip side—for those in the privileged position to reject a job opportunity—spotting the toxic nature of a company during the interview process can help you weigh the pros and cons of multiple positions and gain clarity, certainty, and confidence in your decision to reject even the most compelling of offers (and prepare for the company’s response to your rejection).

Knowledge is power.

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