Suppose you are a job seeker who just got yourself interested in an opening. Let’s say everything is perfect about job, except that a research on Glassdoor returned a few 1-star reviews about the company, full of angry expressions.
Will you walk away immediately from the opening? or give it a benefit of doubt until after an interview?
If you are the manager of that company, do you start to worry about your company’s bad reputation on Glassdoor?
Before answering these questions, let’s look at a few facts about Glassdoor:
About 50%~90% of job applicants check Glassdoor for reviews during their job hunt.
Glassdoor’s survey reported 90% (likely an exaggeration), and an independent survey reported 52%. It is quite high. Though, what is unclear is how job seekers interpret the reviews on Glassdoor.
Is Glassdoor a reliable source?
Glassdoor does not verify users’ employee relationship with a company before allowing them to post reviews. All it takes to open an account on Glassdoor is an email address. So basically it means anyone – disgruntled employees, competitors, data entry clerks can post any review on any company. Though the review should at minimum pass Glassdoor’s “community guidelines” or risk removal.
Despite being the most popular public channel for ill-treated employees to spill the beans anonymously, Glassdoor is actually a terrible place to research about your future employer. It is like using Wikipedia to do research in academia. And it is actually Wikipedia without its editorial oversight and control.
PR companies who “specialize” in damage control on Glassdoor often do that by injecting a string of positive reviews onto the client’s Glassdoor page. I will not quote any PR companies who offer such service, but you can find that this is a common strategy by doing a search on Quora: story 1, story 2.
Still why so many job seekers check reviews on Glassdoor? I think it is availability bias at work here. Dubious information is better than no information, when they try to find out anything about the workplace they are going to spend a long time in.
Managing Glassdoor reviews
So if you are job seeker, I suggest you really read Glassdoor reviews carefully, and check for any suspicious posting patterns. If you read something bad, always give the company the benefit of doubt by going for at least one interview to talk to the people there.
If you are a hiring manager or recruiter, do not be over-worried if people read the negative reviews and turn down your interview invitations. Sometimes, it is good riddance. After all, you don’t want to hire someone who does not care to search for truth meticulously and chooses to make a decision based on hearsay evidence.
Respond to negative Glassdoor reviews promptly, but take the battleground away from Glassdoor.
I suggest hiring managers to respond to negative reviews promptly though. A culmination of bad reviews on Glassdoor will definitely affect your employer brand’s reputation. However responding to them on Glassdoor would give the reviews credibility.
You can respond to them on your company blog, and just leave the article link in the short reply on Glassdoor. In that way, you take the battleground away from Glassdoor to somewhere you have control over. Most importantly if the review has any basis, take corrective actions to address the grievance, engage the person to give him/her a personal reply.
Glassdoor damage control
If a bad review has gone viral, get the most senior engineer in your department as the main spokeperson to write your side of the story, but do not post the reply on any social media. Write instead on your company’s blog.
Responding in a non-defensive, professional, sincere way, regardless if the review is truthful or defamatory, shows that you are addressing the issue. It is also not advisable to engage in any online debate about the issue.
If your company’s Glassdoor profile is beyond salvation, and is seriously compromising your recruitment effort. I would suggest hiring through another corporate entity. But that is a drastic measure, that should be taken only as a last resort.
Keeping an eye on Glassdoor can prevent a problem from developing. You do not need a full-blown Glassdoor employer branding strategy like what some try to sell to you.
Glassdoor is just a public arena for people to have a conversation about a company. It is not an “employer review site” as they claimed to be.