10 Warning Signs That a Company Is Going to Be a Terrible Place to Work

Some jobs are bad.

Some employers are really bad.

Many of them may want to take advantage of job seekers.

The question is, how do you recognize these companies, these jobs and do absolutely everything in your power to avoid them?

The truth is that many companies are going to be terrible places to work at and if you can recognize these warning signs ahead of time then you might save yourself a lot of pain and stress in the long run.

After all, would you want to wake up hating your job and dreading to go into work every day? Trust me, I have been there before and it is not a fun place to be. After graduating university I was desperate for employment and have personally fallen into several of the traps in the below list.

You DO NOT want to work for a company that makes your life a hellish nightmare. Here are 10 warning signs that you can look for, before, after or during an application or a job interview that will tell you that a company is going to be a terrible place to work.

10. Employees wear GPS trackers and stopwatches.

They don't literally wear these devices, but they figuratively do.

If a company is so desperate to make sure that they are getting work out of you every single minute of the day that they are more devoted to tracking what you do at every second than actually being devoted to improving the company, it is going to be a terrible place to work.

I worked at a company like this once. Some of the reasons they were a nightmare to work for included:
  • They insisted that I use the bathroom at the same time each day.
  • That I take my breaks at the same fifteen minute intervals.
  • That I was not so much as a single minute late returning from any break.
There was much more than just this going on at that company, all were enough red flags that I should have quit. They certainly made my life miserable during that unpleasant stint.

Avoid companies that feel compelled to track you like a fox in a hunt.

9. No experience? No worries! You can get rich here!

The job application looks amazing!

It seems like the promises are incredible - you could make $4,000 a month or more working from home!

The people who work there might even seem helpful to you. They respond quickly to your emails and answer all of your questions. Well, maybe they don't answer all of your questions.

The promise of making absurd amounts of money for doing something that seems relatively simple is most likely a definite red flag.

As one Redditor, watskerring points out - avoid companies that say what you could earn rather than what you will earn. These are the companies that will use you up and spit you right back out later.

8. You want to work here? Sure, just pay us first.

Let's get one thing perfectly straight.

A company that hires you is making an investment in you. You are a valuable asset and they are taking a risk by hiring you. They are hoping to get some type of return on their investment.

A company that tries to mitigate this risk by asking you to pay them in order to work for them is sending out a definite red flag. They might not say it as flat out as "pay us to work for us" but there are certainly more subtle ways of achieving this same thing. Watch out for:
  • Companies that ask you to purchase your own equipment/clothes to work for them.
  • Companies that make you undergo hours of unpaid training.
  • Companies that ask you to do sample work for them with the promise of paying you later.
As a fun fact, did you know that most unpaid internships are illegal? In fact, in both Canada and the United States there are very specific criteria for what constitutes a legal internship.

Common criteria for both countries includes that the internship is for the benefit of the intern and the company receives very little to no direct benefits from the intern's work.

7. Oh, The Boss Is Coming!

You'd better look busy, they aren't paying you for nothing!

This one you can keep an eye out for right in the job interview itself.

How do employees react around their employer? Do they keep their heads down? Do they stay silent? Are they clearly embarrassed to even be around their boss?

These are sure fire likely signs of a horrible boss and what most likely translates to an uncomfortable and hostile workplace.

Of course, if it isn't the owner of the company interviewing you then you can always ask your interviewer, "How do you like working here?" If there answer is anything short of "I love it!" then there might be a problem.

6. You are a little bit too empowered.

You can set your own hours, set your own commission rate and best of all, you can be your own boss. Doesn't that sound absolutely fantastic?

It also sounds a little too good to be true and you know what they say about that.

If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is.

In fact, it sounds to me a lot like multi-level marketing. And unless you want to be associated with that type of job (hint: you probably don't) then you probably want to avoid a job that makes promises like these at all costs.

5. It isn't a scam or multi-level marketing. Really!

It's a scam or multi-level marketing. Really!

4. The job description is tiny... or doesn't exist.

Smaller companies might not have lengthy job descriptions, but everyone should at least have a basic idea of what they want to hire you to do.

Imagine going into a company for your first day of work and being told where to sit.

Then that's it.

No assigned tasks, no idea of what you're supposed to do.

Well, that's how it begins anyway. Soon after your job is being made up on the spot and you're expected to do anything and everything that's told of you.

Have a Masters degree in Accounting? No worries, you can clean the office toilets too.

Specialize in marketing? That's fine, just handle our accounting and bookkeeping.

You get the picture.

3. You need to be sold on the job.

This could be for either one of two reasons, either it's a job that you are really not comfortable with performing or there is something inherently sketchy about the job itself.

Maybe it's both.

Either way, if the interviewer needs to spend time on selling you why this company is a great place to work then take the hint early.

It is not a great place to work.

2. Everyone is fresher than a loaf of bread.

"You've been working here for how long?"

"Oh, just a month."

"How about you?"

"Only a week."

"And you?"

"Just a couple of weeks."


If everyone at the company appears to be relatively new then there might be a reason for that. It could signify that there are high turnover rates. If that is the case then there is bound to be a good reason.

Is the job at a call centre? Is it minimum wage?

Even low paying jobs can retain their employees for some length of time if the quality of work and the environment is good. If everyone wants to get out of there then chances are so will you.

1. The place sends shivers up and down your spine.

Sometimes you just get a gut feeling that tells you something isn't right.

You probably don't even know what it is yet, but that doesn't matter.

Your gut tells you that something is wrong.

This doesn't just happen by accident either. Your gut instinct is your body's way of subconsciously picking up on external stimuli and reporting those feelings back to you before your mind is consciously aware of what is happening.

Have you ever stood outside and could just tell that a major storm was inbound? You may not have understood why you knew, but your body figured it out ahead of time.

When in doubt, always go with your gut. It could be hinting at you about a warning sign that a company is going to be a terrible place to work, and help you avoid making the mistake of working there.

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