Job Doc

I have an opportunity to interview with a company, but after looking at their negative reviews online, I’m rethinking the yes I gave the recruiter. I don’t want to waste my time interviewing with lousy companies. Should I decline the offer? Elaine Varelas examines

Researching an organization before taking an interview is critical, and sometimes the information isn’t always positive. Elaine Varelas examines what you should do if you find negative information about a company who wants to meet you.

Ask the Job Doc.

Q: I just got an invitation from a recruiter to interview with a company. I looked at their online reviews and a lot of it is very negative. Should I tell the recruiter I am not interested, or should I at least go in for the interview?

A: Good for you for using your resources. It is critical to gather as much information about a potential organization as you can and one of those should be online reviews. You should also make sure to try to confirm some of the information you may find. The good and the bad side about gathering information through social media is that it is often difficult to determine how much is accurate and how much may be disgruntled employees looking to bad mouth an organization.


First, it is important to let the recruiter know that in your research, you came across some negative feedback, and you would like to know more about what additional insights the recruiter may have about this information. The recruiter should be able to address these points, but they may ask you to reach out to the company directly during the interview. In this case, politely push back and ask the recruiter to gather some details from the organization about the feedback you found. They should know what the organization’s reputation is, and this information will help you determine your level of interest in potentially joining.

Dismissing an opportunity too early is never a good idea. You said you found negative feedback during your search, but was there any positive feedback as well? And did that generate any interest for you? Some people might have put negative feedback in areas that may not matter to you at all. For example, if the negative feedback was due to the organization’s lack of academic reimbursement for a dependent, that might not apply to your situation. A former employee who was looking for that type of benefit may say negative things about the organization that wouldn’t be a problem for you if you decided to apply. Your goal is to find out what’s real, what matters to you, and to look at that opportunity more closely.


The only way to get the most accurate information is by talking to people. If you can, reach out to current employees, recent past employees, or even better, the manager you would be reporting to. Some of this negative feedback could be dependent on what division or office people worked in and it might not be a good reflection of the business as a whole. Larger organizations have different cultures across divisions. Are the negative remarks focused specifically in the area you are invited to interview for or somewhere else? If this is a larger company that has multiple offices across various locations, check to see if the feedback provides a general location. It may be that there is an issue somewhere else that you might not be exposed to. Negative feedback can also be concentrated during a specific period of time which may be causing a higher number of bad reviews. Again, gather as many details as you can. Did these negative reviews occur during a lay off period? Did something dramatic happen in the marketplace? Was there a specific leader a few years ago that was causing the negative feedback? Things change rapidly and the problems that were written about could have been managed or fixed after the review was written. Make sure to do your due diligence and gather as many details as you can before you make a final decision.


One of the more important checks you can do about social media comments is to confirm whether the company’s HR has responded directly to the comments. Is there an official HR response? If so, what was the tone and content of the response? Are the reviews taken seriously? And is the organization open to having detailed conversations on the feedback that was provided? Unfortunately, not all organizations care about some of the comments they may receive from current or previous employees, but job seekers do. I highly encourage you to ask questions about the feedback to the recruiter to get more details on the situation before coming to your own conclusions.


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