5 signs of how to identify a poor company culture before it’s too late!

As we move through the year and continue to interview hundreds of IT candidates, both sales & technical, every month we’re finding less people are leaving for simply for more money. But company culture is increasingly becoming more of a common driver…

Even if money, title or progression opportunities are more important to you as a candidate, if a company’s culture is toxic you will most likely regret your move! But how can you identify a poor company culture before it’s too late and you start a new position?

Here’s some simple signs we believe can tell you a lot about a company’s culture during the interview process:

1) Do your due diligence before the interview!

There is so much due diligence that can be done on a company before you’re even sat at their hiring table and lots of giveaway signs of a poor or toxic working culture.

One of the biggest signs of a poor culture can be found on company review websites (Glassdoor, Google reviews, online forums etc.) with inconsistent and negative detailed reviews being a big red flag. Don’t just look at the marks but look into the text people have written, are the reviews consistent? Are the reviews detailed and raise a consistent negative theme? If this the case, dig deeper…

2) Values aren’t being lived

The majority of companies will have core values in the current market place however; are these values actually being lived or are they just in place because companies feel that they need them?

An easy way to identify whether a company’s values are being lived and breathed is simply by asking questions around them… Does the Hiring Manager even know what the company values are without looking them up?

You can also uncover some information about how serious a company takes their values before getting to the interview by looking at a company’s recent activity and awards – have they won any recent awards related to their values? Or have they demonstrated they’re following their values within the market? For example, if one of their values is ‘community’, what are they doing in the community?

If you can’t find anything about a company living their values, ask the Hiring Manager… If you can find awards or activity around specific values then again ask questions around them!

3) Trust is lacking

It’s vital that you’re able to trust you’re line manager and that it’s clear exactly the direction that the company are looking to move in! Does the organisation have a mission & vision statement and do they clearly communicate this to the team on the front line?

Ask questions around this in the interview – if a line manager is tight lipped around financials or key metrics & KPI’s then this is a big warning sign, transparency is key!

4) The company isn’t open to internal feedback…

Companies with high employee engagement levels will nearly always actively encourage employee feedback and involve their teams in big decisions. Ask about the appraisal process in your interview and ask questions around specifics… i.e. “What examples do you have of things that the company has changed based on employee feedback?” “How do you think the MD would react if I was to knock on his door with an idea?

5) Family has a heavy influence in business

This is not to say that family businesses are bad companies however it can often be hard to be completely transparent with your CEO if his/her family make up the entire leadership team. It can also be very hard to progress within this sort of environment so if progression is vital to you as a candidate then be wary of this type of business.


With all of the above it is always worth trying to speak directly to a couple of employees before joining a business, whether this be in person or via LinkedIn; as this will give you a really good indication of whether an organisation is living their culture/ values.

Make sure you do all you can to ensure you have as clear an indication of a company’s culture as possible before it’s too late!

Recent Posts