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I was recently approached by a company to interview for a software engineering position. The role sounds great and I'm very comfortable with the technology stack.

Aside from an "acquaintance of an acquaintance" relationship, I have no connection to anyone there.

In doing some research I found that their Glassdoor profile has 11 reviews from 2011-2013 with an average of 1.4/5 stars. Assuming these are legitimate reviews, employees tend to feel mistrust towards senior leadership, unhappy with politics, and wanting to leave / happy they've resigned.

Is it appropriate, or should I ask them in my interview to explain their Glassdoor reviews?

Is it even possible to trust the interviewer's answers? (Without knowing if the culture is being accurately portraid on Glassdoor and assuming the interviewer has a conflict of interest).

Thank you!

  • Assuming it is a small company (judging by the # of reviews)...Be aware that sometimes things might be not be good in reality at the company you are interviewing at but the supervisors and managers themselves will put "fake" reviews mentioning how awesome is the work environment. Exactly opposite of your question "How should I trust if the good reviews that are posted on glassdoor are really "true"? As others suggested use the interview opportunity to gauge the situation. – modest Jun 20 '13 at 23:50
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    I work in a company which has only negative Glassdoor reviews and I am very happy there. Note that usually only unhappy people write reviews. Happy people seldom start searching for sites to write reviews. – Sulthan Jun 21 '13 at 8:33
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    Note that Glassdoor sometimes aggregates too much, for example certain tech company has lots and lots of positive reviews, but if you look closely, they are from people working in retail stores, while reviews from engineers working in it's California HQ are quite different. – vartec Jun 21 '13 at 22:30
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    So, did you ask ? If yes, what did they say ? – Radu Murzea Apr 30 '14 at 14:29
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    @Sulthan - correct. But it seems you have assumed that unhappy employees are not justifiably unhappy. Sometimes, there may be a real reasons. Maybe your team or dept was good and some others are bad. Glassdoor is certainly not the final word, but it can give you clues as to what to ask your interviewer. – Borat Sagdiyev Jun 22 '14 at 15:23
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Asking them directly to respond to the Glassdoor ratings is likely to put them on the defensive, which will probably lead to either non-answers or misinformation. Imagine the reverse: "I've heard that you're actually not a very good programmer; what do you say to that?" Would that lead to a productive interview?

But you don't care about the Glassdoor ratings per se; you care about the issues they raise. If a company were rated 1/5 but the complaints were all things you disagree with you wouldn't care, right? So use your interview to find out how teams are managed, how decisions are made, how much churn there is in work assignments, whether and how peers collaborate, startup issues, what the culture is like, even why your predecessor left... in other words, ask the questions that matter to you, guided by the reviews you've seen.

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    Succinct and stellar answer. Spot on. – jmac Jun 20 '13 at 22:38
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    +1, I had to do this recently with a company where "awful vacation policy" and "incoherent upper management vision" were repeated notes. The first was easy ("Hey, can I see the benefits one-page?") and the second took some ferreting out (basically asking each interviewer about vision and seeing how much the answers matched). – mxyzplk Jun 21 '14 at 22:11
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The posts on Glassdoor could be from different departments/supervisors than the job you want, so you can't put too much into their opinions.

Ask about turn-over and why your position is available. Do they mention any of their incentive programs and the good things about the company? What are they trying to improve and how does your job fit into that?

If you're not getting the information you need from the interview, you're going to have to decide if you want to pose a direct question. An HR person may be able to answer it (And they should be aware of it.), but I don't know how many other mangers would have any idea. This is probably more true about larger companies.

If someone takes offense to the question, this is a sign of someone who isn't professional IMHO and could be a sign of not being prepared or worse, something to hide. You can't solve problems you don't even admit you have.

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If ex-employees are posting negative ratings, it's a good idea to find some way to communicate with ex- or current employees before proceeding further. If you accept first, have your parachute at the door. Be ready to bail.

I was 'hired on the spot' for a company I knew nothing about. Three days later I asked my boss for the connection string to the corporate database server, and he looked at me with a blank stare. In short, they didn't have one.

The lady in the cubicle across from me mentioned that there was a team of programmers working for one of their clients, and as soon as the contract was finished they all quit. All of them. It didn't take long to figure out that working there was a bad idea, and I started trolling around again in the job market.

I learned to look out for a couple of things during this experience: some companies have a 'trophy hall', others a 'motivational poster' hall. If you walk into the reception area and you see plaques or other artifacts from happy customers, this is good. If you see business licenses and posters with handshakes and briefcases, they aren't bragging about their history. The other hint is the general condition of the furnishings and equipment, if stuff looks like it's stale dated the company is undercapitalized, and probably not earning it's keep.

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    -1 because judging an office by its furnishings or design choices in public areas is not a reason to think it is not a viable business. – Jeremy Jun 20 '13 at 23:49
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    Almost +1 for talking to current and past employees. But Jeremy brings up a good point. – Kevin Jun 21 '13 at 1:59
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    I look on indeed.com, and find that certain groups have negative outlooks on the company and other groups are more positive. Often I see better reviews when people are working on loading docks than when people are working as managers. So the way a company manages various roles might affect one's personal experience. – Meredith Poor Jun 21 '13 at 19:54
  • @MeredithPoor makes a good point of looking at other sites. After seeing generally poor reviews for a company on Glassdoor, I just found a more specific review from someone who recently left the position I applied to. This was revealing and helpful. – Steven C. Howell Jun 9 '17 at 2:50
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You should definitely mention the negative reviews on Glassdoor. Show you're a candidate who's done his/her homework about the company.

I'm a recruiter who just joined a company with negative entries on Glassdoor. During my interviews, I mentioned all of the negative online reviews and this gave my interviewer the opportunity to tell the company's story. The new management who acquired my company is one of the top 5 employers to work for in their market and they're dedicated improving the environment of their acquisition.

Not all stories will have a happy ending, and in the end the obligation to conduct due diligence before accepting a job is yours, but what's reflected on Glassdoor may be an old, dated snapshot. The current story may be exactly what you're looking for.

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It's been my experience that when you ask a potential employer about negative feedback - the interview goes sour. More often than not - they get on the defensive. Once I told an employer that I was considering them because of what I read online - and to that the HR person responded, "What did you hear? You were reading about us online?" I did not get the job, nor any job where I mentioned things I read on the web. In short, they tend to think of it as "gossip" and more times than not, those disgruntled employees have a note of truth. The question to ask, in this economy, is how badly do you need a job? These days there are more people looking for jobs than there are jobs - and so if it isn't right for you - and you don't need to take it, or have any question about it, move on. It isn't worth your time and money to "investigate" whether or not what you read - was true. But, in hindsight, if a dozen people are telling you it's a horrible place to work - I'd run from the company - screaming!

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    this post is rather hard to read (wall of text). Would you mind editing it into a better shape? – gnat May 16 '16 at 12:47
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You should research before applying, GlassDoor and everywhere else is OK but you don't know the motivation of the person giving the answer.

I've dropped in and spoke with employees before doing anything and been told both how great the place is and that they are all making good money.

The owner seemed OK in our brief interview (I have a great resume and Qualifications) as did the employees.

Turned out that the owner has a 'gift of the gab' and that is a first job for most of them. They worked for a commission that could have been acceptable but had no customers and thus did no work.

The owner's idea of a good workplace was a lot of people in suits who got little unless they worked, so they are free Greeters/Security Guards and one of four of them had made a few hundred dollars in the past six months.

Some people's viewpoint is remarkably skewed and some businesses search for exactly these kind of people. That's what makes it work. If people dug a bit deeper (like they were the interviewer) they'd not be hired.

Those type of places are on the lookout for people who will "poison" (quote from employer to terminated employee) the workforce.

IF you don't want the job you can go to the interview for experience and practice, if you don't need either don't go; but still send a resume for the feedback.

If you DO want the job don't mention GlassDoor, people who used to work there, ask over-probing questions, vacation, benefits, etc. - UNLESS there's a critical reason to know because if the interviewer gets a hard time or you don't jump the hoops correctly then you're out first round.

Wait for second round if you're giving them that many chances since if they have over 100 resumes they're not looking to hire they're looking to eliminate. Once it's down to a few people you have a bit more power and a better idea of the lay of the land - especially if the second time there you get a tour.

If they know they need you they don't want to mess up, just like when you were starting out you didn't want to mess up - except the shoe is on the other foot, and sometimes operates in reverse (common sense ought to tell you the lay of the land but watch out for the justifiers, the brainwashed, the inexperienced).

Saying "Everyone on GlassDoor says your a ..." gets you a one way ticket to the glass door, unless the door is made of metal or other non-glass substance.

I can do 1000's of dollars of work per day and often the pay isn't going to be 20% of that, if I have nothing to do I find it interesting to explore. If I'm busy they had better express an interest in hiring during their first call since if they can 'afford' to flush a fortune messing around it's likely coming out of your potential paycheck or the company's longevity.

Don't browbeat the interviewer/owner unless you can/want. If you are difficult they might prefer you for difficult work otherwise they are unlikely to take the poison. Similarly if they are tough during the interview or things don't add up (or get glossed over with a pat answer) then once they are paying you (if they pay you, as the raise you need is 6 months away) they're certain to be a lot tougher.

If they say they offer benefits during the interview show the interviewer that what they say is important to you by asking them about said benefits. Don't start out with "Can you tell me why everyone on GlassDoor says that the benefits are lousy, and the Stock Options are for last class penny stocks" as you'd be choking the interviewer with the red flag.

Know your position in the scheme of things (you have no experience and need the job, swallow the red flags before you get there and smile/nod politely). If you are the one who is going to turn the place around and have resume/references to prove it then don't let your time be wasted - and you'd establish that when they call the first time.

Your question depends upon too many factors, the shortest answer is no (for you) and the best answer is yes or I'm willing to try (for the employer) - look up "yes man" and BE the man.

Check back in 6 to 8 months, if they are growing they will be hiring more and simply couldn't possibly let a great person such as yourself slip through their fingers - if you DON'T work somewhere 20 to 30 years the company will lose more money than you would have earned working there.

If they are open still in 6 to 8 months and it's quiet then those 'jobs' were short-term, if they're closed the other prospective employees told them.

I've been for interviews with a great resume only to be told at the door that the interviews are cancelled. Upon pressing them it turned out that people were explaining that they couldn't pay less than minimum wage.

It depends on your finances and theirs, what you've heard and believe to be true and the approach you're entitled to take. Many businesses fail in the first few years, if you never worked there it couldn't be your fault.

If the 'opportunity' is over and you want to say where, tell us a bit about your education and experience then an exact answer might be possible.

Asking about wonderful GlassDoor reviews might mean your an investigator, a snoop, someone who would dare to question, a poisoning influence upon the sheep and the work culture/etiquette.

Places around where I am have advertised they pay over $30/hr. for years and years, put full page ads in big and small papers, the reason is because it's a lousy place that charges the customer 20x what they pay - they must plan on profiting from the increase in land value as they've had no significant work in decades and burnt every bridge they could. GlassDoor has a few cracks after some of the write-ups for that place (but the conglomerate owner is oblivious and couldn't burn their cash as they have too much and too few employees).

Pick your battles. Keep them secret. Sugar coat yourself and your questions (unless you're applying for Leadhand at a Ranch or a job fighting/wrestling).

So, probably no.

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