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I am interested in applying for a couple of roles, but after looking at the company reviews on Glassdoor, they are extremely negative...Bad work/life balance, non supporting management etc These companies are large companies in their space.

How accurate is Glassdoor for assessing if a company is a good place to work? Should I let the reviews influence my decision?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Masked Man, Chris E, gnat, Retired Codger, Jim G. Jul 20 '16 at 22:05

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • If you have doubts about a Company These mightve confirmed it, but it might also be People ranting. You can only find out by trail and error. – Raoul Mensink Jul 20 '16 at 11:30
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    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/12516/325 – Monica Cellio Jul 20 '16 at 14:39
  • This is an actionable way to approach for the core question you are asking - workplace.stackexchange.com/a/12391/2322 – enderland Jul 20 '16 at 14:48
  • If I had to collaborate/support/received support from/use their product and get help and the experience is particularly bad the reviews on that website are consistently negative as well, just my 2p – Recct Jul 20 '16 at 14:51
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    If there is a consistent them across a majority of the reviews, I would give that much more credit than a hodgepodge of various complaints. Consider that one way a company can be pretty bad is if it has trouble firing people—so you can be sure that a better company that is firing more people will get more complaints, and more complaints don't necessarily mean a worse company. However, you should take the common threads between the complaints as talking points for discussion during interviews (not mentioning Glassdoor, but asking general questions on the topics to learn more). – CodeSeeker Jul 20 '16 at 18:03
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How accurate is Glassdoor for assessing if a company is a good place to work? Should I let the reviews influence my decision?

Read the Glassdoor reviews for companies where you have worked in the past.

If you are like me, you'll find reviews all over the place. And if you are like me, you'll wonder if they are actually reviewing the company you know. As far as I can tell, they just reflect individual opinions and cannot in any way be considered an "accurate" reflection on how you'll perceive the company.

Reviews are individual and self-selected. They aren't a random survey, nor are they a complete picture. Often people with a bad experience are more motivated to complain publicly than people who had a good experience.

Additionally, a company where a few folks complain about "Bad work/life balance" (whatever that means to them) or "non supporting management" doesn't mean it won't be an excellent place for you specifically.

I never rely on Glassdoor for my assessment of a company. My experience tells me that it wouldn't make any sense for me. Instead, I read everything I can about the company (including anything on Glassdoor) before the interviews, and remember them during the interview process. If something particularly gets my attention, I look for signs during the discussions, or ask specifically.

(Note: Search for "Glassdoor" here using the Search Q&A tool. You'll see a handful of other questions involving Glassdoor, if the reviews are reliable, and if individuals should leave a review of their own or not. It might help you decide if you should rely on such reviews.)

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    I only reviewed a company through Glassdoor once, but found it very difficult to express my dissatisfaction in the standard survey. From a strictly 1-5 perspective they did some things very well. It's when you look at the bigger picture, and the processes management had in place, that you saw problems. So when I finally got the chance to express this in the comment box I ran out of characters fairly quickly. My review did not come across as I had wanted it to. Always good to go through the process at least once yourself so that you know how their data is generated. – AndreiROM Jul 20 '16 at 12:59
  • @AndreiROM At my last company I wrote a review on glassdoor and found I did not have enough room to complete my opinion. I had to instead keep it "high level" rather than giving specifics. The good news is others were saying the same thing as I was in shorter forms. It should be noted that length of time is important. At my last company a lot of folks in for 2 years loved it - even myself - while people over that starts to notice their career prospects were in jeopardy and leave. – Dan Jul 21 '16 at 19:18
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I recommend being skeptical of self-selected polls of all sorts, and online reviews in particular. Remember that folks with complaints -- or folks who have been bribed -- are always much more motivated to post reviews than folks who are simply content/happy.

If all the reviews, over multiple years, complain about the same thing it may be worth trying to think of a way to ask about that topic during an interview. But it's really not easy to determine rationale of past actions, never mind trying to guess what the future business environment will be and how management will react to it. A few data points don't necessarily define a trend.

  • In the same way, people are more likely to promote something they are really happy with than something they are just content with. Unless they think that by making it known how great it is they will ruin it. – ColleenV Jul 20 '16 at 12:22
  • *unless given some incentive. I'm not familiar with the specific service in the OP, but if it offers some kind of benefit for reviewing then it may alleviate the impact radical reviews. – David Starkey Jul 20 '16 at 16:53
  • Can you refer to any research evidence to back this up? I would agree it would seem correct intuitively (at least to me), but you don't state it as an opinion, and intuition is not always accurate. – Brad Thomas Jul 20 '16 at 18:55
  • This isn't Skeptics; citations, while nice to have, are normally not expected here. – keshlam Jul 20 '16 at 19:00
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    Jan: Connection made explicit. If that isn't good enough for you, so be it. – keshlam Jul 20 '16 at 19:01
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Try to confirm from multiple sources. It certainly is a bad sign if ONLY bad reviews exist but I would expect some number of negative reviews regardless of how good the company is.

Take into consideration the context of the reviews with the recent history of the company: was there a merger/acquisition? A layoff? These things will always generate bad feelings and do harm to some careers.

You can also do a search of court records for lawsuits that may indicate vindictive or unethical corporate behavior.

Finally with large companies, you can expect that different locales, departments and facilities may have completely different cultures. Line workers might have completely different experiences than support staff, almost anything can vary across a large org. Make sure you target your assessment towards the specific workplace that you are a candidate for.

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You should treat company reviews like any other reviews.

Look at the overall number of reviews to see how likely it is that it's just a few people trying to promote or sabotage the company or if the reviews might be a good sample considering the size of the company. Look at the language used in the reviews. Is it really emotional or does it seem objective?

Also, as AndreiROM mentioned in the comments under Joe's answer, it's good to be aware of the limitations of the review system. If the length of the comments is very limited, it's not possible to give a nuanced review and you should assume that no one review tells the entire story the reviewer hoped to tell. Another limitation that can skew reviews is if you have to give a rating for each aspect and can't choose no rating/not applicable. In this case, a lot of people will choose the middle rating, i.e. 3/5 stars which isn't exactly the same thing as "I don't have an opinion".

Read the negative reviews and see if there are specific complaints that are common across all of them, then think about whether if this were actually true if it would matter to you. Read the positive reviews and think about if they were actually true would it make up for some of the things in the negative reviews.

What other people think can't tell you whether something is good for you. It's just information that you can use to help you decide for yourself. I find the Glassdoor reviews are good for deciding what sorts of questions I want to ask the interviewers about the company.

I've looked over the reviews for my current employer (and checked the "current employee" filter) and while I think some of the complaints don't apply to the organization I'm in, I can see that while they might be exaggerated, they weren't manufactured out of thin air. There are some complaints about benefits that are absolutely accurate, and some praise for the company culture which is also accurate.

  • Another way to assess negative reviews is to see if they are individually coherent or merely a screed. -- If someone is just venting they cannot usually put together a cogent critique. -- Also, see @AndreiROM 's comment under Joe Strazzere's answer; that GlassDoor doesn't give enough flexibility for some people's review style. -- If you edit your answer to incorporate these let me know in comments and I'll come back and delete this. – user23715 Jul 20 '16 at 20:48
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It should not put you off from apply but be aware in the interview.

Hopefully you will get to interview with your potential boss and get to see the work environment.

If the interview process feels like a non supportive environment then maybe Glass door is correct.

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