Over the past 5 years the amount of resources for job seekers has increased drastically. One of the most prominent resources is Glassdoor.com. It allows potential applicants to gain some insight into what it would be like to work for a specific company by looking at anonymous employee reviews.
However, negative reviews can create some real hesitation for a candidate deciding on an offer. Here at LaunchSource, we often receive questions concerning Glassdoor reviews and would like to provide some insight regarding the importance of these reviews, how much you should weigh them in your decision, as well as how to address them in an interview.
Make your own assessment first
The first thing to keep in mind is that you want to be objective. You don’t want a couple of negative reviews from anonymous strangers preventing you from acting on what could be a great career move. If you have a chance to interview with a company, you should take it - and take it seriously - despite what reviews say. You’ll be the best judge of what is right for you, so go in there with an open mind and treat every opportunity like you really want it.
Establish a good relationship
It’s important to get to know the key people before bringing up Glassdoor reviews. You’ll likely meet with a Talent Acquisition person as well as your potential manager. You need to make good connections with these people and establish trust with honest and polite conversations. If you plan to bring up Glassdoor reviews later on, you’ll want to have an established relationship with these people in order to come off as professional.
Here’s the thing - Managers, CEOs, and Talent Acquisition people don’t love to answer questions about bad reviews, and many people think that entry-level candidates should just be happy to receive any sort of interest from a company (especially if they receive an offer!). They’re not completely wrong, but in all fairness these resources exist now and they have to deal with it (we’ll address the company's point of view in another post).
How to investigate without asking directly
We established that Glassdoor reviews can be a touchy subject, so how can you find the answers to your questions before you ultimately bring up Glassdoor?
First, it depends where you are in the interviewing stage. You do not want to ask about these things on the phone screen or even the first interview. You want to wait until you’ve established a good relationship with a hiring manager. If they’re seriously interested in you, you’ll have some time to ask them questions about the company.
You want to try to get a feel for company culture. So if you haven’t already had the chance to meet your potential peers, ask if you can talk to them to see what the day-to-day is like.
Wait until you have an offer
It might be tempting to bring up a Glassdoor review earlier than this, but by now you should have a decent idea of what the company culture and your new team culture would be like. Remember that if you join, you will be an influence on the culture. If it’s not optimal, that means there’s room to make a positive impact with your great energy, sense of humor, and new ideas.
Now that you have an offer, the ball is in your court and it is an appropriate time to ask directly about any negative reviews. Here are a couple of ways to bring it up professionally:
“I’ve had a really nice experience here meeting with different key people, and the culture seems great, but I couldn’t help notice that there are a few (or many) negative reviews on Glassdoor. What are your thoughts on those reviews?”
“I’m really excited about the offer, but professionally, I’m trying to make the best decision for my career. My only hangup at this point is the negative reviews on Glassdoor. Is there anything substantial behind those?”
Now it’s important to keep in mind that you may not get a direct answer. You may have to read between the lines a little bit. Most people will not want to trash an ex-employee as a professional courtesy. If a hiring manager says “changes have been made since then,” they’re likely being honest and things have hopefully changed for the good.
Other things to consider
Often times an ex-employee may be disgruntled, or simply disagree with the management style. There’s usually a good reason they’re not working there anymore.
Put all reviews in perspective. If one review complains about the requirements of a job - like cold calling - that’s not something to turn down an offer for. Hopefully what’s expected of you has already been explained.
There are some people who just don’t work well with others. You may know some of them. Many of them tend to write negative reviews. While these people can get by in college, the real world tends to weed them out - mostly.
Ultimately, the choice should always be in your hand. Use the interviewing experience to educate yourself about the role, the expectations, the company culture, and anything else that is important to you in your next position (and more importantly, your career). You know yourself best. If you bring a positive attitude and desire to learn, you will be able to dictate your own experience which will almost certainly be different from those anonymous reviews.