4 Signs of Bad Employers: The Waiter Rules for Companies

In a recent blog post, Isabella Mori asks about tips on recognizing organizations you'd want to work for. Taking the opposite tack, here are tips on knowing which companies to avoid.

Have you ever heard of The Waiter Rule?

WaiterThis is what Raytheon CEO Bill Swanson wrote for #32 of his Swanson's Unwritten Rules of Management:

“A person who is nice to you but rude to the waiter, or to others, is not a nice person. (This rule never fails).”

Many CEOs agree, including Donald Trump. Hardly surprising, because the Waiter Rule is:

  • Simple to understand
  • Easy to apply
  • And it just works.

The only drawback with the Waiter Rule is that it can only help you after you've already begun a meeting or interview, and not earlier such as before you send a cover letter.

How can the Waiter Rule be applied to companies?

Useful, honest information about an organization is harder to find than you'd think.

  • Company websites are marketing tools and will usually limit themselves to highlights of a company's story.
  • Publicly-traded companies are required to divulge lots of information but it may only be comprehensible to financial professionals or economists.
  • Large private companies will sometimes be mentioned in the media when they put out press releases.

However, over 90% of the time you're most likely to face a small or medium-sized company or non-profit organization where even the above information may not be available. You'll need to get in closer contact to make insightful judgments.

4 guidelines to discern bad employers

A company that charges you – or anyone else, without your consent – to read your job application is not a nice company

Application processing fees, requests for you to meet far from home, etc. This is as dumb as a casino that charges you to gamble.

A company that requests free work during the hiring process will continue to do so after the hiring process

Before the first interview, an Israeli hitech company once asked me to review their unfinished product. Regrettably, I wasted a few hours giving them free consulting advice when I should have immediately turned away.

Which I did after the first interview a few days later.

A company whose hiring process is unnecessarily complicated is an employer for whom working will be unnecessarily complicated

Endless rounds of interviewing are a good indicator of a boss who's afraid to take responsibility for their own decisions.

A company that asks illegal interview questions is probably acting illegally elsewhere too, out of ignorance or otherwise

In the USA, being asked your political affiliation is an attention-getter. In Israel, ethnic background has been an issue in the past.


Sometimes, only a deeper look will tell you what you need to know. If you follow the above guidelines, you can save yourself from job search headaches or worse – job headaches.

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  1. Jacob Share Alan Wilensky December 31, 2007
  2. Jacob Share Ines Lebel January 1, 2008
  3. Jacob Share Bilingual Blogger January 3, 2008
  4. Jacob Share Jacob Share January 3, 2008
  5. Jacob Share isabella mori January 3, 2008
  6. Jacob Share Recruitnik January 4, 2008
  7. Jacob Share Jacob Share January 4, 2008
  8. Jacob Share isabella mori January 4, 2008
  9. Jacob Share Moshe April 24, 2008
  10. Jacob Share elie bassil September 24, 2008
  11. Jacob Share Barbara November 12, 2008
  12. Jacob Share Jacob Share November 14, 2008
  13. Jacob Share Kate September 26, 2013
  14. Jacob Share Paul March 18, 2016
  15. Jacob Share Moshe Egel-Tal May 15, 2017
  16. Trackbacks

    1. Jacob Share says:

      Today’s Job Search Tip: Learn to recognize bad employers BEFORE you accept a job offer from them http://tr.im/10zl

    2. Jacob Share says:

      Today’s Job Search Tip: avoid companies that request free work during the hiring process http://tr.im/10zl

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