Seeing awful online reviews - what do you do?

If you see awful online reviews for a company - do you apply to a job there? Also, what if you already applied to a job, thinking, “this is the job for me!” and then it occurs to you to research them later and then see review after review of just awful things?

I don’t know what is trustworthy while reading online reviews, and if a company has a huge gossip culture, extremely strong (negative) Jewish presence, specifically…what do you do?

Do you decline the interview if they’re interested in meeting you?
Would you do a free (unpaid) project for them as part of the “intereview” process?

I personally would never do an unpaid project for an interview. They could easily not hire you and use your work as is or with a few minor tweaks…I’ve heard of this happening. If I were you, I would put together a small portfolio of examples of your prior work that is compatible to the demographic of the company you are interviewing with. Especially if you have several years or more experience and/or a portfolio, I personally would think it would be cruel and unethical to ask an unemployed person to do work for free! Besides having a strong resume, be sure to bring up several examples of situations you handled using the advanced terminology for your position to back up you know what you are doing.

As far as reviews, I hate to admit it…but whenever I’ve seen quite a few bad reviews about one particular company, there usually has been some truth to it. And I notice once a company realizes there are some out there, it’s not uncommon for someone to either create an account giving 4 to 5 star reviews where they can say something like “Don’t believe the bad reviews you’ve seen,” or they will come up with something flaky in the ‘what would you change/suggest section’ like “Provide better snacks or coffee, LOL!” (I literally saw that exact sentence for a company where even some people I know have said the place was toxic!) Let’s be real, even at good companies, there’s always something that has room for improvement.

Sometimes, you may have to apply or accept a job where you know there are toxic people, ESPECIALLY within our industry! I once took a role where I had been told multiple times about the VP who was the type to throw merch/PD people under the bus. I took the job, kept my mouth closed…but I made sure to always cover my ass, and I never made a mistake in relation to her accounts…this person never knew I knew what they truly were about…I played the game and acted sugary sweet to them…but you could tell they would sometimes get flustered when they realized they could never throw me under the bus! Also, I made sure when this person wasn’t around, I would share my work and enthusiasm with other executives and even pop in the owner’s office 2 to 3 times a month (this wasn’t a large company) to have quick 5 to 10 minute casual conversation with him about what I was working on…so he was in my corner. I put in about 3 years at that place before I quit…but I don’t regret taking the job. Sometimes, you have to have thick skin, yet be strategic when working around toxic people. With so many people looking for work, there’s a major chance many people will have no choice but to work where there’s at least one or a few toxic people. Better to do your homework and look up reviews on line and through networking.


Unfortunately, I was just taken advantage of during the pandemic by a hiring manager asking me to do an unpaid project. I still feel totally abused, taken advantage of, and exploited, months later. My resume listed the exact qualifications needed for the job, I had 4 additional years of experience than they were asking for, but they did not take my application seriously. Very unprofessional and I wish I had seen between the lines while reading reviews online. I was under the impression this company was legit and would not play games with people’s livelihoods. I’m tremendously disappointed, because I thought I was getting into something that would lift up my current situation, but instead it just wasted my time, and gave them free products to sell without my permission.

I honestly don’t know how to sift through some of these review sites to see the truth. One company responded back to their own bad review, denying there was any truth to the complaints! Shocking…yeah, sure, the employees have “changed” since the bad review was posted - you mean “fired” and “replaced for lower pay”

I’m also extremely concerned about Jewish companies, and whether I want to work for Jewish people or not - because of all the reviews I am seeing. The reviews are horrendous for some Jewish companies - giving special treatment to fellow Jews, putting them on pedestals…like c’mon!! I’ve never been asked my religion at work, but if I’m Jewish am I supposed to just go ranting about it to everyone and anyone, just to get a good deal or position at a company?
Don’t pretend you don’t see it either. It’s a big deal in this industry.


I’m so sorry you had to experience this…I believe 100% of what you said in your 2nd posting.

I really truly try to not paint a particular demographic of people within this business with one brush…but I can’t deny between things I’ve seen and been told by trusted people (even Jews who aren’t apart of “the community” if that makes sense but I’m sure you know what I’m saying)…this type of treatment is very common…I’ve had Jewish people who have held senior manager, director, and even VP positions tell me over the years they hate working for the ones within the community…but they know if all else fails and if they can’t get a job with a mainstream fashion company, they know they can get a job at those religious companies and they won’t get low-balled the way many nonJewish white people and ethnic minorities often are. What kills me even more is when a Jewish person who isn’t as religious as the business owner or even a nonJewish white employee will say comments with anti-semetic undertones about the family-owned business while they are making good money and even getting extra perks like “working at home every Friday” while making a 6-figure salary (when they are in fact at the gym, tanning salon, hair salon, or away for 3-day weekends on holiday)…meanwhile someone like me who doesn’t say anti-semetic things and who has multiple degrees and I’m hard-working/passionate about being a team player and contributing to a company often earns significantly less than I should.


Yeah, that’s exactly what I mean! I feel awful just grouping people together like that in a sentence too, but I keep seeing it repeated over and over within these online reviews. I don’t like to disclose my religious views to any employer, or co-worker for that matter, and it gets awkward when you start working at a job around the end of the year when you don’t know who celebrates what. Then someone will say to you “Merry Christmas!” and then inside you’re thinking “I don’t celebrate that…” or maybe you’re thinking “I celebrate that, but I don’t want everyone to think I’m not Jewish too…” just because of the fact your employer gives those special perks to people who have a specific-sounding last name or fashion style, or dead giveaway that you’re entitled to special treatment based off of an employer’s preference.

I just really hope that the accuracy of these reviews are in fact, accurate. I’m so hesitant to apply to jobs sometimes when I see terrifying reviews. I’ve even declined to interview after reading about how badly the workers are treated, along with the inside info that you wouldn’t know as an applicant - such as the (illegal?) overtime without pay aspect. The thing I’m noticing the most is it’s the group of people in the upper management categories that are the most problematic. Those are also the types of jobs I struggle most to apply for, given my years of experience and talent, but it must be so difficult to replace such specifically horrendous people to find another person exactly like they are!


Here’s my take on the company reviews:

-The bad reviews are factual.

  • At “bad companies” the good reviews are often either by the toxic or kiss-ass people within a click or inner circle within a workplace. I’ve also heard of people asking specific employees to go on sites to give reviews…so if the asked employees are minions or they just got a raise, guess what type of review they are going to give? Plus if they are asked, they know chances are someone is going to go on the site to follow up shortly to see what they said…that can put people on the spot.

Even when I’m not looking for a job, I will go on those sites at least once a year to look at reviews…I’ve been doing that for at least 10 years now…there’s no way I’m going to continuously or mostly see bad reviews for a particular company (to the point where the average rating is 1 to 3.5 stars for YEARS)…but oh heck no it’s not true. You can also go on LinkedIn and see the average time span people stay at those particular companies. And if the particular dept you are interested in tends to get poor reviews, you can actually cross-reference the turnover rate by looking at current and former employee’s profiles on linkedin. If the overall company or specific department isn’t large, it’s not difficult to figure out.


I agree with KTMERCH. I read reviews of any company before applying for a job, and if they are mostly bad, with the same things being called out by multiple people, I don’t apply. It is common practice that when a lot of bad reviews are posted, the company will solicit people to counter them with good reviews. It’s a pattern that is easily identifiable.

Jobs are so scarce in the fashion industry right now that I recommend candidates take what they can get BUT keep their ear to the ground.


I’ll start off by saying I hate when ppl say… you should be happpy/ lucky you have a job. If you don’t like where you are / aren’t happy ect leave. But during these times yes your are lucky to have a job and you should try to take anything you can find. The longer you’re out of work the harder it becomes to find work.

If you are seeing multiple negative reviews across several platforms… it’s true. Try to keep a good network of peers so you can verify the craziness. They might have had a friend who had a friend that worked there… You can also take the job and keep looking if you get their and find out it’s a complete shit show.

I’ve only ever done one project and it was very easy…Like I did it in a day. I normally don’t believe in doing them as it’s free work and can definitely be used by the company if you aren’t hired. This is something you have to decide for yourself.


There is always some truth behind those negative reviews. I wish I had listened to the reviews for the company I’m at but figured I would see for myself and man is it a shit show. There were a few great reviews as well which I have now come to learn are fake and from people they specifically asked to write reviews to improve their ratings. Also a lot of commission based people won’t risk writing reviews because they will not pay you out when you leave- forcing you to go to court to finally get your commissions. This company also happens to be in the “community “


That’s why I’m asking this, because as much as I don’t want to end up at a bad job, I also hate being unemployed while bills pile up that I cannot pay. That is why the online reviews are critical to me knowing what I’m getting myself into by interacting with possibly nasty employers and toxic workplaces.

If they treat a minority like crap, how would they possibly treat a person they put on a pedestal? Probably pretty crappy too.

Sometimes, you just don’t know because you don’t know anybody who works at the job. Some of these jobs you may never even have heard of because they change their names and don’t have permanent locations. I applied to a job like that and almost got scammed into thinking that the job was going to be exactly what the description said. Instead, it was a lure. A lure for what exactly - I have no idea. But it had negative written all over it.


“If they treat a minority like crap, how would they possibly treat a person they put on a pedestal? Probably pretty crappy too.”

Yes, there are companies (family-owned, mainstream, and religious ones) that treat many of their employees like crap…but statistically if white employees are generally miserable at a place, you better believe the ethnic minorities are NOT treated better! I’m assuming you’re either not an ethnic minority to make this statement, or perhaps you don’t have friends within the industry of extremely diverse demographics (age, ethnicity, religion, and tenure within the industry) who candidly tell you the things they’ve either experienced firsthand or seen within the workplace. I’ve been lucky to actually have this…people of ALL demographics that have and even at different levels.

While ANYONE can get low-balled when it comes to salary…it absolutely is more common for ethnic minorities to get low-balled even more/to a higher degree, even within the same company…especially Black and Latinos. With Asians, it can go either way. I’ve actually had a few White people say they preferred Asians (even some have referred to them as “the preferred minorities” (my mouth dropped). I think it’s because many things are made in China, so if the candidate happens to be Chinese, so they know the language (yet, these SAME companies are NOT paying Asians more money for this valuable skill)…even though the vendors speak english. Also, because of the way people in China work, it’s not uncommon for people in the US to look at Asians as “worker bees” who are OK for working a ton of hours constantly. I actually had another VP tell me “they liked working with Asians because they OBEY!” I kid you not. Also, many people stereotype Asians as quiet and docile…thinking they won’t speak up if they are overworked and/or underpaid. Because of this, many people in America don’t view Asians as “threatening” the way people view other ethnic groups…even in the workplace where people are acting professional. I’ve had a few very talented Asian friends who were overworked and underpaid in comparison to their White co-workers…whether they were US-born or not.

In religious companies, it absolutely isn’t uncommon for the people who are of the same religion to get market value salary…while white people who aren’t of the same religion will still make good salaries, but slightly less…but maybe they get "perks or sweetheart deals as I call it, depending upon what level they are…while ethnic minorities will make even less than a white person who has been low-balled. I have Black and Latino friends within the industry over the years and even now who have discovered they were making anywhere from $15K to $50K LESS than their White counterparts with the same job/level of responsibilities…these particular ethnic minorities actually had the same level education (sometimes higher) than their white counterparts, and even the same amount of experience…sometimes even more. That’s actually common even in other industries…that is why in America more and more states are making it illegal to ask your salary history during interviews. If someone was low-balled in their prior job (especially a woman or ethnic minority), there’s a major chance that candidate will get jipped for a new job as well…especially once they tell the new company their current or previous low-balled salary…it’s a vicious cycle that has a major impact on women and minorities (especially white collar college educated Blacks and Latinos)…they often aren’t able to “catch up” with their white colleagues salary-wise, regardless how educated they are and how hard/smart they work…and this is often while working in a toxic work culture…being underpaid in comparison to colleagues to do the SAME job is already toxic!

Stuff like this goes on within many religious companies (why do you think you hear white people and definitely minorities constantly use the word nepotism??)… and what I’ve explained definitely occurs in mainstream/nonreligious companies as well. Even some of my Jewish friends are well aware of this. I’ve been told by some of my Jewish friends if “all else fails” and they can’t get get a job with a regular fashion company…they know they can go to the community and often have a good chance of getting hired and even paid fairly…people DEFINITELY often “take care of their own” in comparison to others.


I’m a diverse individual that doesn’t fit the common stereotypes, so I prefer equality around the whole company I work for. You never know when management can switch up and then suddenly give favor to a certain demographic. This is hard to read everything you said - but it’s true. I worked with a “worker bee” actually and it was very eye opening in the most shocking way. I still cannot believe the differences in the way they treated her compared to how I was treated. Longest hours in the entire company, and everyone simply got up and left when it was their time to go, but not her, and she rarely spoke a word… So, watching closely how that dynamic worked…I did my part because they underpaid me by a couple thousand bucks and then they got mad when I stuck to my role - I wasn’t about to get taken advantage of like her!


I’m kind of confused as to what you are saying. When you say you’re “diverse,” do you mean that in an ethnic/heritage background, religion, or in terms of your personality and interests against what ignorant people within society would possibly stereotype you based upon your heritage? Are you currently living in the US? I’m only asking that because in the US, it doesn’t matter if you are ethnically mixed/of diverse heritage or if you happen to be a person who has a personality that isn’t “the stereotypical expectation” based upon your ethnicity…if a particular environment happens to be toxic, there still is chance you would experience a negative impact…doesn’t matter if you are an Asian with a loud “stand up for yourself” personality…or the Black person who people ignorantly joke with, telling them they are an “Oreo” or “one of ‘whitest’ Black person” they’ve ever met (seen this happen in the workplace, sad but true). You still can be treated in a toxic sense and underpaid, regardless.

We ALL want equality & opportunity, and to work in environments that will fairly pay us based upon our education, skills/experience, and work ethic…but sadly, that doesn’t always happen. Look at the different comments on this site where you have fashion professionals who happen to be “older” (over 45 y/o) with significant talent to contribute…yet the industry “pushes them out” if they aren’t associated with the “in crowd.” And as far as “management suddenly switching things up and giving ‘preference’ to other demographics”…when and where is that going to happen?!" What “other demographics” do you think this will happen to? :thinking: I’m curious to know what demographics are you referring to?

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I mean in ethnicity, multiple religious beliefs, and also personality - I’m from the US and am in favor of the human race - whites, blacks, asians…etc. but if one specifically is being taken advantage of, that concerns me - where I suddenly see red flags and know to stay away. I feel like even if I were the exact same race, gender, height, weight, fashion style, and religion as my boss, if there is any special treatment based on what I was born into or clothing I’m currently wearing, that’s wrong.

So seeing the unequal balance in a workplace does affect me when I read online reviews. It’s unlikely that a company will have management that is so drastically different under the same roof, but sometimes it might surprise you. I’ve had my boss get fired and be replaced by someone totally different, with way different values and ethics. As for “other demographics” I meant that lets say Asians get a preference under an Asian boss, and then for some reason gets replaced by a White boss, and then White people start getting preference. Not really one in particular, just based on the specific situation a company might have.

As for the reviews…do your homework. You can connect to current or former employees in the department you are considering on LinkedIn. Ask them about the culture, the on line reviews, what to expect. Most people are honest and want to help. And if you get enough of a similar story you will know. You can always go on the interview as well - sometimes it helps to have this potential red flag because you know what to watch for.

As to your question about projects, this is a touchy subject. Many people say that there’s no way they will do one for free. The truth is that in this market, you have little power and refusing may just eliminate yourself from consideration. As an applicant, I have been asked to do about 12 projects. I only proceeded when the interview process was far along and I was clearly in the running, having met senior people and with lots of follow up. I’ve only refused when the request was thrown out in the first interview stage by a HR level person who seemed to have little interest in me personally. In nearly every case, I was able to present the project in a digital format where I shared on my own screen or a monitor, but did not let the file leave my possession.

Several of the projects have gotten me the job, and very good jobs I might add. The ones that went nowhere, I’ve incorporated some parts into my portfolio. So my advice is, if you have the time and can do it, and keep control, it’s to your benefit to comply. If I had a job opening and one person refused to do it, I’d be hard pressed to keep that person in the running.

As an employer, I take asking for a project very seriously. I hate to see how many out there use it for free work or ask for ones from people who are not seriously going to get hired. Since I’ve been on both sides, I know how much work goes into it and especially how taxing it can be to those who are working full time. And upon receipt of a project, it should be review with full attention and with as much respect and feedback as possible.

First rule of thumb, never send or leave your project if asked to do one. I’ve done a few, more than id like to say, during my years in this industry, but I’ve never once left the project with the company. I’ve always told them that I’d rather come in and present it. I’ve never had any push back.
I definitely waited until I was almost in final stages of interviews to do the project as well.

As someone who is in a position to hire, I have asked for small projects from some candidates. I mean small, nothing crazy, like I had been asked to do in the past.
If I think the person is a generally good fit, has the experience needed but maybe was in a different category than the role I was hiring for, I asked for a project, just to see their general sensibility for the category. But, most of the time they were my top choice anyway.

I hope this is a helpful story I am sharing. Allow me to begin by saying I have over 20 years experience as a designer and am currently employed by a good company for the past 3+ years.
2 years ago, I was contacted by a recruiter for a position at a BIG company. I was lured in by their market clout, which is substantial, and the money they were able to offer was almost 20% higher than my current salary. I knew the gentleman who was looking to hire and I respected his work and longevity at that company.
I did a lengthy (Free) project for him that was extremely well received. Then I met his big-big boss and she had other plans that I should meet someone in production and work as a designer for her instead. (Apparently the big boss is known for tossing around candidates)
I did some research on the company as a whole on glass door before meeting the head of production and was horrified by the reviews. She and I discussed them, but I was still uneasy.
To wrap it up- I asked a previous colleague for a reference for this job. He spoke to my potential new boss and also saw red flags too. He made a few calls and found someone who had actually worked for her. This person said RUN! from this person, this job, unless you are desperate. I extracted myself from the interview process at that point. I didn’t explain (except to the recruiter who really wanted the commission and pushed me to keep pursuing it- sigh)
Point being- take the interview if you either really need a job or really want that company on your CV, but follow your gut. Do the research and confront bad reviews if you find them.


After I got laid off, I was reco’d for a job a large company. I went in, met w/ 5 ppl in one day, including the GM. So far, so good. My last meeting was with the VP (!!!) of HR–he told me this with a straight face: “the owner of the company feels like we are all his family, he is so supportive, etc etc. So, sometimes he likes to come around and give HUGS AND KISSES to his employees.” I was in shock so what came out of my mouth was “REALLY?!? Does he hug and kiss the men, too?.” The answer was no. I went home and read through all of the company reviews, and sure enough, there were things about the “handsy” owner. I needed a job, but the fact that the head of HR was brazenly telling me this was a big, giant red flag about the company as a whole. So, I think it depends on what the content of the reviews are.

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Is this company Delta Galil…I’ve heard something like that about them…but I’ve never worked there…but have heard complaints over the years.

Also I hate to say this…but whenever I’ve heard someone go the “we’re one big happy family route,” I’ve often later found out the company culture has huge nepotism, they tend to predominately prefer to hire (and properly pay) their family, friendship circles, religious communities, or country club/social club buddies in comparison to someone outside of those sectors. Same comments from my friends within the industry who have had this statement said to them. Honestly, it’s to the point where I cringe inside whenever someone makes this statement about a company I’m interested in applying to. So unless someone is one of the categories I’ve mentioned, or they are a straight up brown-noser…it might not be the best environment.

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