Why You Should Always Go to the Bathroom During a Job Interview

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Landing a job interview is exciting, especially if you’re eager to pay back your student loans. But even if you’re a good fit for the position, the company might not be a good fit for you. Piyush Patel, corporate culture expert and author of “Lead Your Tribe, Love Your Work,” believes you can spot a company’s toxic culture before accepting an offer.

In his 20 years of experience, he’s figured out what questions to ask during an interview to get a feel for a company’s culture, why you should take an office tour, and why it’s important to use the restroom during an interview.

Here’s how to identify signs of a toxic company culture during a job interview.

1. Ask certain questions

It’s hard to get a feel for a company’s culture during a job interview. Everyone’s dressed to impress and ready with a list of questions, and answers are prepared ahead of time to try to avoid ruining the first impression. But there are ways you can figure out if a company is a good fit for you.

“During the interview, stay away from aspirational questions in favor of more realistic ones,” said Patel. “Instead of asking your interviewer an aspirational question like ‘What have you enjoyed most about working here?’ … ask about something more practical, like their onboarding program. Do they have one? How long does it last? What does success look like to them?”

According to Patel, if all a company offers is a two-week orientation class with other new hires, that’s a red flag. After those two weeks, do you get thrown into a job where they expect you to figure out how to fit into the culture on your own? “Oversights by leadership like this are a sign they don’t focus on integrating people into an existing culture,” he said.

Another practical question to ask is “Who can help me get adjusted to the culture here in my first month?” No one walks into a new job with a new office, new colleagues, and new projects without an adjustment period, according to Patel. If leadership expects you to figure it out on your own, that’s a red flag.

2. Use your senses

Go beyond the literal spoken word to get a real feel for the work environment.

“When the interviewer asks questions, does it sound like they’re reciting questions, or do they genuinely care who they’re bringing on to the team?” asked Patel. “This is important to keep in mind beyond the interview itself.”

If you get the chance to take a tour of the office, use your senses to identify any potential red flags, Patel advised. Is there a sense of panic in people’s voices? Do you see locked cabinets at desks? A clean-desk policy is a sign there’s a lack of trust among co-workers. “If you can’t trust your co-workers to leave your stuff alone on your desk, will you trust them to do the right thing in a major project?” he asked.

Your sense of smell can even come in handy. “If you smell someone’s lunch at their desk, that’s a good indicator that people don’t have enough time to take a break,” said Patel. “This usually means leadership doesn’t have a good process in place for scaling, leaving people scrambling.”

3. Visit the bathroom

A great way to get a peek into what a company’s culture is like is by visiting the one place where people have the chance to do the right thing for their colleagues when no one else is looking: the bathroom.

You’ve been there — reaching for the toilet paper but all you see is cardboard. For Patel, that’s a warning sign.

“When I see an empty toilet paper holder, I see disrespect,” he said. “If someone isn’t willing to take the five seconds out of their day to replace the roll for the next person, are they likely to spend significant time to make sure they hand off projects without issues? It’s at moments like these when you can see how genuine your culture is.”

It might seem silly, but rock band Van Halen used the same basic principle. Its productions were so massive that they could be deadly if the crew didn’t pay attention to the details. So, to test the crew’s diligence, Van Halen requested no brown M&M’s in the dressing room.

It wasn’t about the chocolate; it was a safety issue. If the band discovered brown M&M’s, it knew someone wasn’t pay attention to the technical details, which meant it might not be safe to step on stage. It all comes down to the details and the dedication of your team members.

4. Do your research

The great thing about the internet is that current and former employees likely have already expressed their views of a company somewhere online. Use them to help you make a decision.

“A great place to start is by looking at websites like Glassdoor and Indeed to look up the anonymous reviews from people already working there and see if there are any patterns,” said Patel. “Are there a lot of reviews from former employees or employees with less than a year of experience? That could be an indicator of high turnover. Do you see a lot of negative reviews followed by an influx of positive reviews? That might be someone from HR or marketing trying to cover up the negative reviews by posting some of their own.”

Depending on the company, you might be able to find some people who work there to connect with on social. They might not be able to share many details with you, and that’s all right. Ask about their typical day or use one of Patel’s favorite questions: “Why do you come to work each day?”

“The goal is to add to your notes on the company to help you make a more informed decision should you get a job offer,” he said. “You’re looking for indicators of … a culture that goes beyond the paycheck. You can tell when someone’s passionate about what they do compared to someone who’s only working for the weekend.”

Use your job interview strategically

Unfortunately, there’s not a magical list of questions to ask in an interview that’ll give you an accurate picture of a company’s culture. And there’s not a one-size-fits-all checklist of things to look for to help you spot a toxic workplace during an interview. But there are red flags to watch out for.

After your interview, take some time to reflect on what you noticed. “One or two flags, you might chalk that up to misinterpreting scenarios in the few limited moments you have in an interview or office tour,” said Patel. “When there are enough flags piling up that you’re losing count, that’s not a good sign.”

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.