I'm in a somewhat toxic work environment -

  • not allowed to take days off for doctor's appointments,
  • I have two managers who tell me conflicting things to work on and get mad when I'm doing something for the other one,
  • one boss is really petty and yells at people over typos,
  • coworker calls me racial slurs and everyone (HR too) gives him a free pass because of his disability,
  • forced to use shitty development tools like Windows 10 and Notepad for the text editor

I'm currently interviewing for new jobs. How can I make sure that new jobs won't have similar issues without specifically listing all of these and sounding like a complainer? I've specifically read on here and other sites that mentioning bad management is a red flag for interviewers.

  • 2
    What is your location? Some of those things are illegal in the US, your company can face huge fines and lawsuits. – sf02 Apr 25 '19 at 20:03
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    from your username, I assume you are ubuntu user and you called Windows 10 a shitty tool. Are you sure you are not part of the problem? – EGN Apr 25 '19 at 20:53
  • forced to use shitty development tools like Windows 10 and Notepad for the text editor - That's a completely subjective statement. As for the rest, I don't see how you could "suss" these things out prior to actually taking a job. – joeqwerty Apr 25 '19 at 21:22
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    Windows 10 isnt a development tool. Its an Operating System. – solarflare Apr 25 '19 at 23:14
  • how long was the interview process for your current job? Did you notice anything that would hint at these current behaviors? – MattR Apr 26 '19 at 17:51

How can I make sure that new jobs won't have similar issues without specifically listing all of these and sounding like a complainer?

During the interview process, ask to speak with at least one potential peer and hopefully several.

Ask them what it's like to work at this company, what it's like to work for this boss, what they like about the company, and what they dislike about the company. Ask how long they have been at this company. Ask them what kinds of development tools they use.

I've done this for every job I am applying for.

You can learn a lot this way. Peers often talk more freely and causally. If you listen well, it's not hard to discern the kind of company culture you'll be getting into.

If this process doesn't yield answers to all your questions, you'll have to ask them specifically.

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    All of that. Also ask which tools they use and which versions. Ask if you have any choice of tool (many places won't care, as long as it doesn't cost them anything and the results are the same - no weird languages or incompatible file formats). – Justin Apr 26 '19 at 7:50

Ask open ended questions related to those topics, and pay attention to the answers carefully

I had some problems very similar to these at a job, and I wanted to avoid that at my next job. There's always an open ended question you can ask that is appropriate to ask, that does not require you to say anything about what your current or previous jobs were like.

For instance, instead of asking

Are you really petty and yell at people over typos?

You could ask something like

How do you give feedback to your subordinates?

Instead of asking

Will I have two bosses who each give me contradictory stuff to do? Because that shit sucks ass at my current job.

You can ask

How is the team organized? Who would I report to?

Instead of asking

Are we screwed into using shitty Windows 10 and shittier Notepad?

You can ask

What development tools does your team use? Do engineers on your team have their own choice of tools?

The trick here, is that you never say anything about your current job, you're just probing generally about the job your interviewing for.

Racism is a really tricky thing to bring up, in that nobody will ever say "Yeah racism is totally cool with us!" but I find the easiest question for things like that is to ask

What is the culture like at your company?

It requires some effort to answer, and it's an immediate red flag if you hear two people give a word-for-word identical answer.

Also, if you are interviewed by an employee who is not a manager, I always ask:

Do you like working here?

Some people will admit that they do not, and the reason why.

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Just ask.

Ask what technologies are used. It should come out during the interviewing process if you will be using Notepad or a real IDE. That will also make you look interested if you start asking those questions.

As you go into the office, get a feeling for the equipment used. If the developers use 43" monitors and newer laptops, that's a good indication. If they have 17" CRT monitors, that's perhaps an issue.

As for the issue of toxic coworkers? That's really kind of tough to gauge. They will usually be on their best behavior during the interview process. Kind of like the guy that didn't know his girlfriend even knew how to fart until they were married for 2 years. They won't let you see those things up front. Pay close attention during the interview, maybe ask questions of why they're looking....did the previous employee quit? Did they grow and this position is a newly created one? That might give you an indication.

Check Linked In to see if you can find someone that worked there. I think Glassdoor gives ratings of places.....Google will help.

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