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There’s been a lot of talk about toxic work cultures over the last few years, and for good reason. Professionals of all kinds are beginning to place more value in a healthy, happy, inclusive work culture. Covid has fundamentally changed the game for professionals, and companies will either need to adapt to an increasingly remote office environment. Roles in most industries are plentiful in the U.S. due to severe labor shortages, and overall it’s never been a better time to be a job seeker.

However, there are still a lot of companies in the tech space that haven’t gotten the message. It seems like a lot of tech CEOs style themselves as a Steve Jobs-level visionary, and the destructive effects of their egos can trickle down to the rest of the team. This can manifest itself as a workplace culture where hours are long, fear is high, and work-life balance is nonexistent. Frankly, you deserve better!

If you’re a tech employee looking to find work at an American startup, this article will help you choose a role that will not only ensure you’re financially well-off, but emotionally well-off too.

They’re Competing For You, Too

One thing that a lot of job seekers fail to realize is that all companies need workers to survive and grow. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise, since the typical interview experience doesn’t reflect that reality!

No job interview should ever be a one-sided affair where the company has all the power. You have power too! Your interview should not be an interrogation, it should be a productive conversation between two humans who have complimentary needs. If the interviewer is aggressive, rude, or reflects an attitude of superiority, guess what? Chances are, their company’s leadership behaves in the same way. During the interview, you should feel welcome and free to ask the questions that you want answers to.

Ask The Right Questions

In addition, there’s no reason for a hiring process to include free work, stressful “pressure” interviews, or disrespect from the hiring manager. Look past the ping pong table and free beer, and be sure to ask about the health of the company’s culture during the interview. Here are some good questions to ask:

Hiring managers who work in a happy, healthy culture have no fear of questions like these. Ones who don’t? Well, just watch their body language. If answering any of these questions is a struggle, that’s a red flag.

Always Be on the Lookout For Red Flags

A healthy startup isn’t one that’s flush with new funding or valued highly. It’s one that values its employees and runs an ethical, well-organized business. Luckily, it’s hard for a disorganized, toxic mess of a company to hide their nature during the hiring process.

No matter what, keep the following golden rule in mind:

A company will never treat you better than they do during the hiring process.

Here’s what this means in practical terms: if the company seems like they’re super disorganized or uncaring during the hiring process, expect it to be ten times worse when you get hired. Startups in particular seem to suffer from disorganization, and it’s seemingly taken in stride. After all, who cares about boring stuff like HR and employee wellness when you’re growing right?


The behavior of the human relations department is a fairly accurate reflection of a company’s true nature. If they don’t know what they want, it’s because the CEO doesn’t: and that’s a giant red flag! Our advice: kindly decline offers from companies that don’t make you feel desired or valued. Other opportunities will come.

Another tip: if you’re ever unsure about a company, just do your research. Glassdoor is a good place to start, and believe it or not, so is Reddit.

Want More Information?

Linkedin influencer and former VP of HR Liz Ryan is one of the foremost authorities on toxic work cultures. She lays out several red flags that job seekers should be on the lookout for during the hiring process, and if you’d like more information on toxic cultures and navigating the complex world of hiring in the US, her work is definitely worth a look.

Above all, it’s important for you to value yourself, and refuse to tolerate a company that doesn’t return the favor. Times are changing, and there’s no reason for a talented professional to tolerate being treated like anything other than a talented human being!

Verbalize Now is the online business English school that doesn’t just teach you grammar and vocabulary: we want help you build your confidence too. If you’re interested in finding remote job with an English-speaking company, or want to find work abroad, we can help you get there. Our online business English lessons are helpful, encouraging, and most of all, fun. Contact us if you want to learn more!

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