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3 Questions to Sniff Out Toxic Work Environment Before You Accept the Job


You really want the job and it seems like a good move for your career. But how can you tell if you’ll like the job, once you take it? There are a few questions you can ask during your interview that will help you spot a toxic work environment, before you get stuck in it.

(Photo Credit: Mike Licht,

1. How Did This Position Become Available?

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Find out how long the previous person worked for the company and, if you can, how and why that person left. You may also ask about general turnover in the company. A place of business that keeps the same employees for a long time is more likely a good place to work. A company that keeps losing and having to replace people may be a toxic workplace.

Amy Scholten, M.P.H. points out that when interviewers blame the former employee for being “incompetent” or “not doing the job,” this may be a sign of toxic work environment.

2. May I Meet Some Team Members?

Watch the hiring manager’s reaction when you express interest in meeting other workers. This may be your first clue as to how well people get along and how happy employees are, in general.

If you get the opportunity to chat with future teammates, ask them about their typical day. What they say is important, but so is how they say it. The third question on this list is a great one for potential coworkers:

3. If You Could Change One Thing About This Company, What Would It Be?

Some experts at Career Bliss say it is surprising how honest people will be when answering this question. Asking this question is a great way to find out the positives and negatives of working for the company.

No Answer

While interviewing for a job, take note when the hiring manager avoids answering a legitimate question. If he looks away and changes the subject, or beats around the bush instead of giving you a direct answer, this is a red flag. He may be hiding a negative work situation.

Tell Us What You Think

What do you think is the most important question to ask in a job interview? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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toastyMomoMeme Recent comment authors
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Well Meme, I think your the kind of employer we are trying to avoid here…


In response to the above comment, then your probably a toxic person. I’d also ask what their company policy is on dating between supervisors and employees is. The last thing you want is to start a job and find out your boss is dating your coworker. It happened where I worked. I would also ask if there is any on the job training and how long to expect any training to take. You don’t want to start a job and… Read more »


If I were hiring, I’d see these questions as signs that this applicant may be a trouble maker and give the job to someone else. Everyone is different, though. These questions might work with some HR personnel — just not me.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.