Recruiting Roadmap: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

April 8, 2022
How to deal with negative workplace reviews

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.

If you have ever interviewed a candidate only to be ghosted at some point after the first interview, you might be wondering why. The most popular reason may be surprising to some: negative feedback.

People talk – and especially over the internet on Glassdoor, sometimes they are not afraid to complain about things as trivial as time off to more serious accusations or comments regarding bad management styles.

Unfortunately, disgruntled employees can leave a lasting imprint on the online presence of a business. Whether a bad Glassdoor review or even if someone is just verbally spreading negative information about the organization to others, the reality is, negative feedback can make for a bad first impression of your company. This can impact your ability to source talent in the future once a candidate does a little bit of research on the company’s social footprint.

A smart candidate will do in-depth research on a potential company so they can know as much information as possible going forward. This research may include Googling the company and reading reviews, checking references on leadership with colleagues or partners, or even asking employees or former employees what it is like working there. In today’s world, there is no foolproof way to prevent this type of networking from going on – and honestly it usually isn’t a problem…until it is.

4 Ways to Deal with Negative Workplace Reviews

It is the bad or negative reviews or feedback that we grow from the most – even though they are the most difficult to hear. Take these observations as an opportunity to grow and welcome feedback across the board from all angles.

If a candidate comes back to the second round of interviews and brings up a negative review that they heard from a former colleague or read on the internet, what should a good leader do?

Here are four ways to respond:  

1. Express the importance of feedback. Thank the candidate for bringing it up and let them know you value the feedback if it was something that you were truly unaware of. This will go a long way with candidates as it shows adaptability, understanding nature, and even compassion. Mistakes happen in business, it is how we grow from them that make us better.

2. Don’t get defensive or offended. When a prospective employee brings up some negative feedback, commend them on doing their research. Bringing up negativity is a tough conversation to be had and takes a lot of guts, so at the very least, respect the willingness to go there. Remember that the candidate is bringing this piece of information up as a genuine concern, and they want to give you the chance to speak your truth on the matter or defend the company’s stance. Getting defensive can only make the matter worse, because it can appear like evading the question or even worse, a confirmation that the information is true.

3. Acknowledge the information and explain. It is perfectly okay to acknowledge something that could be a problem. For example, say that according to Glassdoor, your company’s benefits are not that competitive. It is completely acceptable to tell the candidate that you understand that feedback. Then, provide an explanation about what you can do to overcome it – such as additional compensation or simply that it is currently being addressed internally and that a solution is on its way.

4. Always take the high road. Even if you know where the review is coming from and you feel that it is unjustified, never stoop to their level. In the end, it just makes you look bad. Be authentic and honest in your rebuttal and try to tactfully promote positivity instead of trying to throw shots across the bow.

Ryan Joseph is an Executive Recruiter for Recruit Group (, with a focus on security industry operations, sales, and sales leadership. For help with your security recruiting efforts, contact her at [email protected] or call (954) 278-8286.

About the Author

Ryan Joseph

Ryan Joseph is the VP of Security and Public Safety Technology Recruiting at Recruit Group, specializing in operations, sales, and sales leadership from Entry Level to the C-Level. Mention this article and receive a free 30-minute hiring consultation. [email protected] - (954) 278-8286