interview with a person who responds to Glassdoor reviews for her company

Last month, a reader mentioned that she’s in charge of writing her company’s response to Glassdoor reviews. I asked if she would be willing to tell us more about how that works, and she graciously agreed. Here’s our conversation.

So what exactly is your job in this regard? And  what is your job more broadly?

I work on our talent marketing team, growing awareness of our employer brand and engaging people in certain target talent areas and places in the world that we’re looking to hire. (But I’m not a recruiter and have no actual contact with candidates.)

What would you say your company’s goals are in responding to reviews?

On the whole, our goal is to appear as an engaged and responsive company to candidates. It’s not a medium for us to really engage with our employees and understand what things they like or want changed. Glassdoor is not a great tool to measure the internal pulse; it’s a lagging indicator and contains data from both current and former employees, so it’s not really relevant from an internal engagement perspective.

Responding to Glassdoor reviews is more about us showing to candidates that we take feedback seriously, respond to it respectfully, and give a channel for people to reach out to if they want to share more. It’s important to not invalidate people’s experiences, even if I can tell what they’re saying is just not true, and seek to learn more to address those problems, rather than to just say “that didn’t happen how you wrote it, so this entire review is BS.”

How do you decide what you do and don’t respond to?

It’s more an art than a science. We don’t respond to all reviews but want to make sure we have a good mix of positive and negative review responses. Too many positive responses can appear like we’re ignoring problems and too many negative responses can look like we’re only using Glassdoor to get in front of problems, rather than actually listening. In that vein, however, because we view Glassdoor as mainly candidate-facing, ultimately the goal is to get in front of issues and show that we’re proactive; we just don’t want to look that way. We want it to appear authentic and not like marketing/HR is using responses to rug-sweep.

What makes a good response? What would be a bad response?

A good response validates the person’s experience and resolves to always be doing better. It sounds simple, but it can actually be kind of difficult and I see why so many companies get it wrong.

Many reviews allege things that I truly do not think are true, or are at least misrepresenting things, and when you like where you work, you feel passionate about saying, “That’s not what happened.” Even though that kind of response is genuine, it doesn’t do you any favors for a potential candidate reading your reviews. It would be better to say something like, “At our company, [alleged behavior/activity] is not acceptable. It’s important that employees here feel valued and heard, so please know I’ll look into this. If you have questions or more feedback, contact us at abc@company.com.” While generic, that response hits at what we’d want to see: not dismissive of the review, opening a channel of communication if they want it, ensuring we show that any kind of wrong doing is taken very seriously.

In your experience, is that true of your company more broadly — do they take feedback seriously and give real thought to it? Or does it more about valuing the appearance of taking it seriously?

I do believe they take feedback seriously. There is a lot of care and attention taken to do internal surveys at least twice a year, and we see the results of those and actions taken where needed. I think in any company, there’s not always something to be done about complaints, even if that feedback is valid and consistent, but I do truly believe my company does their best to follow through on what they can, and I think we as employees have a lot of opportunity to share feedback and for action to be taken on it.

People often worry about their reviews not being anonymous, because there’s enough identifying detail that a company insider could make a good guess (based on things like title, timing, and specific complaints). What’s your take on that?

It’s all dependent on the context of the details in your review and the size and scope of your company, but I do think it’s theoretically possible to determine who wrote a review. I work at a large, global company, so the chances of me being able to identify a particular person from their review is very low. We did get one recently where I was 99% sure who wrote it because I was present for the incident that led to that person’s departure from the company, and their review was very specific to that situation, but that is exceedingly rare for me. At least at larger companies, I truly don’t think anyone cares enough or is reading every review closely enough to be seriously guessing on every review – there’s not enough hours in a week to do that and your actual job.

And to be clear, other than guessing based on context clues, there is no way for an employer on Glassdoor to see who wrote a review or see any information on the backend that you did not provide in the review. Glassdoor does not provide that information, nor should they.

Sometimes people allege that companies that buy an employer plan with Glassdoor can artificially boost their ratings and/or get negative reviews removed. Any insight into that?

That is absolutely false. Pretty much the only way a company can get a review removed is if a review names a non-public employee (for example, they can post the CEO’s name, but they can’t post my name since I’m just a cog here) or if a review is flagrantly false (like the level of false of saying the company is shutting down when it’s not; “this company treats people poorly/discriminates/doesn’t do good work” would not generally qualify, even if that’s generally not true).

If a company wants to improve its rating, we’re encouraged to ask people to write honest reviews. Current employees generally rate higher than former employees, so that tactic works well, but asking employees to give a positive review is not in the spirit of the site, and I would consider that unethical (not to say that doesn’t ever happen).

We are occasionally contacted by companies who offer a paid service to get negative reviews removed. At least at my company, these services would go against our ethical standards and we don’t ever engage; I would suspect most larger, corporate companies would not engage as well, since the downsides of getting caught are much higher than the benefits of getting a couple reviews removed.

Do you know how those companies that offer a paid service to get negative reviews removed could do that, if the only way to get reviews removed is if a reviewer names a non-public employee or is blatantly false? Is your sense that that they’re making promises they won’t be able to back up, or that there truly are ways to pull off something shady like that? Or maybe that they know how to work the system with Glassdoor to argue that some negative reviews fall under those exceptions?

I really don’t know. Without having looked deep into it, since that’s not something we’d ever be interested in, my guess is they attempt to report “false” information and are successful some of the time. If you can nitpick one tiny thing that’s not accurate, perhaps it could be taken down on some sites, but that’s nothing I couldn’t report myself and I don’t think it would work well on Glassdoor since their standards are very clear and strict.

You mentioned that current employees generally write more positive reviews than former ones. Why do you think that happens?

Glassdoor is very much a Yelp-style site – if you have a very bad experience or an extremely good experience, you’re going to go much further out of your way to share that. People who have bad experiences and leave low star reviews are likely to have left the company, while people who have great experiences have no reason to leave, so they’d rate higher when they leave a review. This isn’t true 100% of the time, but overall that’s how it goes.

Do you ever have individual managers or others press you to try to counter negative reviews in a way that you know will be counterproductive? If so, how do you handle that?

I actually don’t encounter that often. Like I mentioned, there are better ways to understand what’s actually happening inside your company than through Glassdoor reviews, and I think leadership here knows that. I am the Glassdoor expert at my company, so I have the room to say if something won’t work, and even at the highest levels that would be respected. If a leader does insist on counterproductive ideas, I try my best to meet them in the middle on expressing a certain sentiment, but ultimately I know what’s best and absolutely won’t publish something that I know would not go over well. I have a great boss who would back me up if it came to that.

Did you leave Glassdoor reviews before this job? Do you think you will in the future?

I have left a review before just to get access to Glassdoor since it’s required in order to make an account, but likely won’t again unless I have an experience that really needs to be shared. I’ve just never felt the need. If I apply to a job, I look up their Glassdoor reviews, but I only really am looking to see if people generally like working there or if they generally don’t; given my experience on the employer side, I don’t put a ton of stock into the specifics of Glassdoor reviews since for the most part I really don’t think they tell the story of what’s going on at that company at that time.

Anything else you think people should know about Glassdoor?

Just that Glassdoor is not some kind of conspiracy or unethical thing; it’s just a tool. I think a lot of people don’t understand how it works and think employers have access to swaths of data from there to use against you or that we have tight control over what reviews are up and what come down. The data you see in reviews is basically what we’re able to see on the backend as well. And if you’re evaluating working at a company, just make sure to take anything you see on Glassdoor as a data point and only one piece of the puzzle. Look at their press releases, their social media, search the company name on social media and see what people are saying, ask people in your network, look at a company’s Fishbowl/Blind page, etc. and take everything you learn from all sorts of sources to form your opinion.

Amen to that. Thank you for talking to us about this!

{ 162 comments… read them below }

  1. BasilOperator*

    This was very informative.

    In a former role, I worked for a very toxic company that was very high drama and I do remember that the legal team was trying to intimidate Glassdoor into providing specific data about some people who’d posted negative (and accurate tbh) reviews in order to sue them. Despite being very scary lawyers, I don’t believe they actually got very far.

    Thinking back I think that they let us know that in order to try and intimidate us into not posting bad reviews.

  2. The Rural Juror*

    I recently (just this past week) created a Glassdoor account and it let me skip the review. Maybe that’s something they’ve changed since the person interviewed here created theirs, but I wasn’t required to do it. There was a teeny tiny button at the top right-hand corner of the window that said “skip.” I had to search for it, but it was there.

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      That’s great! I always felt like that requirement made people make things up just to have something to say so I’m glad you were able to skip.

    2. Ellie May*

      I think at some point you will be required to post a review to maintain access. I created my account without sharing anything but after a year or so, I had to write a review to maintain access.

      1. Filosofickle*

        That’s what happened to me too. I’ve used interviews as a bit of a workaround since I don’t have much in the way of proper jobs to review — if I interview somewhere, I just pop in that info about the process to keep my account alive.

      2. Tau*

        I have the frustrating situation where I wrote a review a while back to make the account and now it’s asking me for another review to maintain access. I don’t know how often Glassdoor is expecting me to change jobs?? I also can’t see my own review anymore which is… frustrating.

        1. DJ Abbott*

          Glassdoor and Indeed both do that to me. I was only able to see reviews for a few months. Now I just look at ratings.
          I was sufficiently annoyed to email Glassdoor and received a non-answer from someone who (deliberately) missed the whole point.
          Fine, Glassdoor. GTH then.

    3. Language Lover*

      I was able to sign up without creating a review but in order to get access to salary information and other areas of the site, I was eventually required to write a review.

      I selected a place that was out of business as other places I worked were either too long ago to be relevant or current. I don’t want to review my current workplace.

      1. Lolo9090*

        I needed to get the scoop on salary info at a firm I was looking into earlier this year, so I reviewed a large chain hotel where I interviewed for a front desk position over a decade ago and had a terrible experience (they berated me liking the Little Mermaid among other BS). I felt kinda bad since I’m sure the offending interviewers are no longer there, but it was petty closure I didn’t know I needed.

        On the other hand, Glassdoor now thinks I am extremely actively searching for employment with this chain.

    4. Generic Name*

      Gosh, I wish I could skip this step. I have been at my current employer a long time (double digits), and I don’t want to review them, but it only lets you go back to 2017 for former employers. So o can either post a fake review, review my current company (which I am not comfortable doing for various reasons) or not use the site. Seems kind of limiting.

    5. Medusa*

      I’ve been prevented from accessing Glassdoor for over a year because I can’t put up any reviews. My profile is far too specific for me to be able to leave an anonymous review, unfortunately.

  3. Anhaga*

    Thanks for doing this interview! It was really helpful. I’m at a small company right now and I’m mildly concerned about having no Glassdoor reviews at all, but we’re really tiny (6 of us on payroll!), so it’s not surprising. We are creating a real employer page on Glassdoor so candidates will at least have something to look at when they stop by, but I’ve been loathe to ask any of the other employees to actually leave a review since it would be pretty easy to tell who wrote them. I might leave an honest review myself since I don’t have any worries about the boss’s reaction if I mention something less-than-awesome, but I wouldn’t want to put my team in the position of doing that and then worrying.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      My former employer had fewer than 50 employees and (last time I checked, which was about a year ago) only had 3 Glassdoor reviews ever. Which meant there was no way to write a review without everyone knowing it was me.
      Like everything you read online, it’s best to take reviews and company responses on there with a pinch of salt. However, I did once get completely put off from applying at a company where all the recent reviews were one star and there were no company responses.

  4. ElizabethJane*

    Do you think people actually *believe* your response? I will say I posted a review of a previous company citing (well documented) toxic and illegal practices. Well documented as in we went to court over it and I won (just to get ahead of the “That’s not how it happened” crowd).

    Anyway, I also received a response from our big corporate overlord to the effect of “We definitely take this seriously and will make sure all employees are treated fairly. Please reach out” so I did. I received back “We have nothing to say to you about this”. Actually, that public facing image of “OMG we care so much” and then the brush off when I tried to talk to them about it is what irritated me enough to take it to court. Maybe I’m jaded but when I see a response to a glass door review all I think is of course the company posted that, it’s just a PR stunt.

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      They basically are a PR stunt. If I was writing a response to your review, it wouldn’t be for your benefit, it’s so someone else reading your review who might be considering a job there sees that we’re responsive. TBH I would be really surprised if someone we said “feel free to reach out” to actually responded.

      1. Chilipepper Attitude*

        I have to be honest and say that the answer the interviewee is describing NEVER makes me think, Oh, that employer is responsive!” I think, that’s just what they have to say, I am sure that many of the employees already spoke up and got ignored so they came to Glassdoor. An answer like, “we take that seriously, please reach out to us,” seems purely performative and if they have to say that to more than a few negative reviews, its just a yellow flag to me.

        1. Lisa B, interviewee*

          I mean sure, but in the same way that one could view any form of corporate communications as unsavory. I don’t think most comms are nefarious – mine certainly are not – and I choose to view mine and other companies’ communications in that light as well.

          1. Renata Ricotta*

            Agreed (and thanks for doing this interview!)

            I take responses like yours to be either neutral to (extremely mildly) positive when viewing a company, or establishment on Yelp. I certainly see that nobody involved is actually interesting starting a conversation between the reviewer and the company by leaving those comments, and that isn’t the point. But a polite, even-handed response communicates that the company’s general vibe and style is reasonably detached and professional. (Individual managers/departments/executives certainly might buck that communication standard, but still, might as well start from a good place.) Responses that are defensive, argumentative, or personal are an immediate and big red flag about how the company handles conflict. No responses at all might indicate that the company isn’t sophisticated enough to have a professional system built in for such things (weird for a global company, not weird for a small one).

            1. KittyCardigans*

              To me, it means they have the resources to have a well-run and fairly responsive marketing team, which would make me think that they probably have the resources to have well-run and responsive teams in other parts of the business, too. Sure, it’s not a guarantee, but I’d see it as a positive sign. Same as when companies are responsive to people who comment on their social media posts. I like to see the company caring about its reputation in a calm, professional way.

          2. A Wall*

            I mean, I do actually find it unsavory when any company regularly replies to online reviews. It makes me more suspicious, not less, about how they handle problems, precisely because I know they’re doing it for the benefit of observers. It is at best going to be neutral and at worst going to be a negative, I would definitely never see it and think “oh good, they’re taking these reviews seriously.” I’m now curious to know whether my perspective or yours is the more common one.

            1. Liz T*

              I agree with this. When I see responses like the interviewees’ it tends to make me believe the critical reviews more, not less.

              1. HD*

                I feel the same way. It feels like deflection and makes me think the company has something to hide. Knowing that these are deliberate PR stunts just cements that impression.

              2. Mints*

                Same, I’ve written three Glassdoor reviews and they were all 3 stars for various reasons. But the one response I’ve had was from the CEO saying that my complaints/advice were invalid. I liked my manager there a lot, but a lot of my complaints were company wide, and he couldn’t always buffer me. It was overall an okay job, but the person who responded was the person who created the problems I was talking about.

                I think responding to reviews makes the company look worse. It’s a waste of resources, and who knows what else they’re focusing on that’s the wrong thing

              3. A Wall*

                Same, and it also makes me trust the positive ones less because then I know they are likely to regularly solicit current employees to leave positive reviews. And as the interviewee here correctly points out, when nudged to do so, most people who are currently working there will write positively.

            2. Lolo9090*

              I have to agree. I pay attention to the quantity of responses as well as which reviews are left unresponded-to. I think my preference would actually be that the company doesn’t respond at all.

            3. A Wall*

              I also wanna say, since the interviewee is here reading the replies, my distaste for this isn’t like… A judgment of you as a person, how very dare you, etc., nor am I taking issue with you leaving these reviews any more than I’d come for the rank and file HR staff at a company with a bad leave policy or whatever. I’m bringing this up in reply to you specifically because it seems like a relevant part of the discussion to wonder about how often it backfires instead, especially since it seems like your/your company’s impression is that the net benefit in the end is positive.

              I figured I should drop a note like that in here because I have noticed that on a number of posts lately, when the commenters weren’t excited about whatever a letter writer was talking about, it got interpreted as a big pile-on in judgment of them when I didn’t really think that was actually the intent of the commentariat. It’s possible to have a negative perspective on a situation being reported without that reflecting onto the letter writers personally, but it also probably doesn’t feel that way sometimes.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      In your case, I’d expect that if there was a court case involved and they were able to identify that you had been involved in the court case, that could also be a pretty strong incentive for them not to respond to anything further than you sent them, and I’d be surprised if their legal team hadn’t specifically told them not to talk to you.

      1. Myrin*

        I think the review and the company’s answer happend before the court case and were, in fact, the final straw for ElizabethJane to go one step further; I don’t think she sent them anything after everything had been brought before a judge. Or am I misunderstanding what you mean?

        1. zutara*

          That’s my take, too. The dismissive response to the employee making an effort to discuss it privately led to them ultimately going to court.

        2. pancakes*

          I’m not sure it matters much. In US legal ethics, it is considered unethical for a lawyer to communicate directly with an adversary’s client, whether they are close to going before a judge or not. (In the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, this is Rule 4.2, Communication with Person Represented by Counsel: “In representing a client, a lawyer shall not communicate about the subject of the representation with a person the lawyer knows to be represented by another lawyer in the matter, unless the lawyer has the consent of the other lawyer or is authorized to do so by law or a court order.”).

          1. Omnivalent*

            That has nothing to do with what the OP is describing. The Model Rule means that if you’re a lawyer, and you know the opposing party also has a lawyer, you talk to that lawyer – it is unethical for a lawyer to bypass the opponent’s lawyer to try to talk to the party.

            OP is saying that she responded to the please talk to us message with a complaint, she got blown off, and then she went to court. How does the Model Rule apply to that?

            1. pancakes*

              Sorry, I thought it was clear enough that I was adding to what Red Reader said. I think Red Reader has the right idea in pointing out that if the company knew Elizabeth Jane planned to take them to court, or was anticipating that as a possibility, it would be a misstep to engage with her on GlassDoor. (Or on any other platform, for that matter).

              1. L.H. Puttgrass*

                The company would not be a lawyer in that situation; it would be a company. Nothing in the model rules prevents a represented party (the company) from reaching out directly to another represented party (the Glassdoor commenter).

                1. pancakes*

                  Right, but if the company has in-house counsel and/or outside counsel it relies on for employee disputes, it would almost certainly be in contact with them about an employee who seems likely to sue. In my experience it’s not standard for companies to tell their lawyers to sit tight in a situation like that and make a point of trying to resolve the matter on their own.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          No, you’re right, I skimmed and missed that the court case came after the review :) but given EJ’s elaboration below, I do think the company should have erred on the side of “do not engage with this person at all” rather than making stupid half-ass semi- or non-responses, and as it is they deserve anything they got.

      2. MassMatt*

        That might be the case, but then who put the gun to their head and forced them to write “Please reach out” in their response? It’s rather like the game middle-school boys used to play to try to get your attention only to give you the finger.

      3. ElizabethJane*

        The review happened before the legal case.

        They were horrible (I was asked in an email if I planned to give birth to my daughter via c section so as not to ruin things for my husband….) The court case was very VERY clear. However by the time I secured a new job and was considering a case I was also dealing with a newborn so I mostly figured “I don’t have the energy for this BS” and I satisfied myself with a nasty glassdoor review. Then their HR person replied in what was obviously a PR stunt and it pissed me off enough that I decided I did have the energy to sue them for sexual harassment and a hostile work environment after all.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Holy crapsticks.

          (I’m sorry, I just reread your initial post and I see – I missed originally that the review came first before the court case, apologies!)

    3. pancakes*

      There’s a pretty big difference between posting a bog-standard, polite response along the lines of “We take feedback seriously and will look into this” and “OMG we care so much.” Personally I haven’t ever encountered the latter on Glassdoor. I have seen the former often, and think it’s quite clearly a mistake to take it as a personal guarantee, or as reflecting deep and urgent interest on the employer’s part. It is boilerplate language, and doesn’t need to be translated into more emotive language to be made sense of.

      1. ElizabethJane*

        Yes but that’s my point. It’s boilerplate language. It means exactly nothing. As in, I wonder what the value is for a company to have someone respond to them. Does anyone who sees those responses actually believe the company is sincere or is it exactly the same as seeing no response at all?

        1. Krabby*

          Yes, 100%. At my last company we had middling Glassdoor reviews. We started responding to them (in much the same way as OP described) and our candidate quality went up, plus we had a few candidates specifically mention the responses when asked what made them want to work for us.

          I wouldn’t say everyone sees the responses as sincere, but it’s like when you see a bad review for a laptop: you are going to prefer the one where a customer service rep apologized for the broken screen and asked the person to email them to discuss how to get it fixed to the one with no response. And yet, we have no way of knowing that the CS rep did anything after that to actually resolve the issue.

          Your former employer sounds incredibly messed up, and I would have taken that kind of response as a slap in the face as well given what you’ve shared, but candidates don’t have that kind of context.

        2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I guess some employers would reply with something like: “We are proud of the strong company culture and collegial atmosphere at Acme, Inc. This has occasionally been misinterpreted by more sensitive individuals, as in this case.” If a company acknowledges that a situation would be against policy, at least we know they HAVE a policy, even if we doubt how well it is enforced in practice.

    4. serenity*

      As much as I appreciate the gracious interview here – and it’s interesting to hear it from this perspective – I wonder how many people who write Glassdoor reviews even want or are looking for a company response. Don’t people generally write them to share their thoughts/experiences with prospective employees?

      A company responding to so many – even as thoughtfully as they seem to do here – is essentially performative and face-saving.

    5. RCB*

      This is the same as when you complain on Twitter about a company, lots of time they respond as ask you to DM them so they can look into it, and often they do, but it’s also a good brushoff too and a way to get your issue out of the public sphere. Knowing sometimes when I’m getting the brush off or going to, I just keep responding publicly with a “Oh, no need to DM, here’s what’s happening….”, and they HATE it, because then they have to respond and do something about it. It’s certain a jerk move, but sometimes you have to be a jerk to get companies to do the right thing.

    6. Hrodvitnir*

      Yeah, honestly, the stock response given as an example would be a mild negative basically. Because that in no way reads as responsive or helpful – I’d honestly rather see a response that somehow splits the difference between sounding snarky/offended and a total nothing response.

  5. R*

    FYI- if you’re in tech or another enterprise business check out Blind. It’s similar to glassdoor, so lots of helpful information and also malcontents.

  6. Elizabeth West*

    I always check Glassdoor for salary and review info on a company before applying, if they’re on it. You can sort by location if they have more than one office. I’ve seen some reviews where the person said something like “All these positive reviews here, don’t believe them, this company sucks.” But you have to take that in context with the others.

    Like Amazon reviews—if they’re all good or all bad, that doesn’t tell you much. But if I see an outsize proportion of bad ones, or they all tend to highlight one particular thing consistently in the Cons section, then I’m likely to give them more weight. That doesn’t mean they’re all 100% true but on average, people are ten times more likely to complain than to leave a positive statement about something.

    As far as company responses, I’m not really sure. It seems like if they’re taking time to read the reviews and respond in a thoughtful and open manner, that’s good. But you’re not really going to know what goes on behind the scenes.

    1. Anon for this*

      We recently had a whole batch of recent, well-written (we had an exodus of senior staff), negative reviews just up and vanish from Glassdoor within a few weeks of being posted. The platform appears to have jump the shark. I cannot trust it anymore, which sucks, as I used to rely on it when applying for jobs. Back to word of mouth, it seems! On the bright side, they now post job openings and send alerts for the ones they think you might be a match for (although their software seems to interpret the term “match” far more loosely than I do).

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I wonder if there is an automatic moderation if a company suddenly gets a large batch of either positive or negative reviews on the grounds that they might be bots or paid reviews. It WOULD seem suspicious if a company goes from, for example, 10 to 100 reviews in less than 1 month, even if they are ultimately legitimate.

        1. Anon for This*

          So, no, I admit “batch” was a bad way to put it. I’d guess there were a half-dozen at most. Certainly not a hundred! And I did not get to see the most recent ones. Somebody asked if I’d seen a specific one that had a specific quote in it, I went to check, and it wasn’t there. Overall though looking at reviews for this year, I am seeing a handful of negative ones, but they are all the kind that I would not trust if I were researching an employer. You know the ones – one star for everything, under pros: “None!”, under cons: “They were making me work!! can you believe it?!” There are also a bunch of one-line positive ones, clearly written as someone’s job assignment. To be fair, I am seeing well-worded, constructive, negative reviews from earlier this year (late spring and earlier), so maybe it’s just a few most recent ones that got the ax. There is a button at the end of each review that says “Helpful”. I am now going to click it on each of the actually helpful ones. Maybe if enough people flag a review as helpful, it’ll make it harder to remove.

          1. Mouse*

            Sometimes Glassdoor automatically has some filters applied with a weird sorting mechanism. Make sure you’re removing all the filters and sorting by “most recent”.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That would make sense, since changes in leadership, etc. could make those reviews obsolete. I have seen reviews where someone says “The new managers are much better [or worse] than the old,” so usually a change will get addressed in later reviews. Also, I suppose having 800 of them on one account would get unwieldy after a while.

  7. kdizzle*

    I loved the interview, and have always been curious about how people and companies use Glassdoor, so I appreciate it.

    I do think that the site suffers from a bit of positive astroturfing of companies by HR people and recruiters. It takes away some of the usefulness of the site, and I don’t think aggregated reviews are as useful as individual reviews. Fortunately, it’s usually pretty obvious where the positive reviews are all 10 words or less, “we work hard, we play hard! Ice cream Fridays!” and the negative reviews are detailed epic novels of workplace dysfunction.

  8. lb*

    Question w/r/t not responding to all reviews: how do you determine which ones you’re going to skip? Is it ones that are just low on specifics/only one or two sentences long?

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      Immediate “Yes, reply to this” would be if there’s anything egregious (think discrimination/”worst place I’ve ever worked”) or if it’s positive in a specific way, meaning more than a couple sentences. I’d want the reply to be tailored to something they said, so they would have needed to say enough to actually respond in a way that doesn’t read like a form response. That criteria usually weeds out most reviews.

  9. KO*

    I hope this doesn’t come off as harsh because I really appreciate this interview but really what I learned is this is just PR/Marketing. In the second question you state it’s about showing candidates you take feedback seriously however you also say you don’t actually use Glassdoor for feedback at all. So basically it’s all for show. Which kinda is irritating but I can also understand as a company how this works. But once again it’s all PR which seems like everything has become about.

    1. sara*

      But I think that’s also valuable information about how companies view Glassdoor – as a part of the marketing/PR strategy for attracting talent.

      To be honest, I’d be really upset if it was anywhere on the list of ways that they actually addressed real issues in the company… If I worked somewhere and posted a review of my experience on Glassdoor, I’d like to hope that I was doing that to give information to external people, not because it was my last resort in getting real issues addressed within my workplace…

    2. The New Wanderer*

      That’s valuable to know too, which is what I liked about this interview. I see it as the kind of PR effort that my company is currently making, putting out statistics on diversity externally and having everyone go through our version of DEI training internally. I’m sure they believe it will help but it’s also all about the appearance especially because we’re hiring up in a lot of areas and need to appeal to candidates.

      The only thing that will really help show a company is invested in addressing employee concerns is their future behavior. If X company has a bunch of reviews complaining about harassment, and the company responds to the reviews saying “We take this seriously, we’re working on it” – there are two outcomes. One is the negative reviews on harassment continue because the company didn’t do anything, and the other is that the harassment-related reviews decline because they actually took it seriously and worked on it.

      I’ll be interested to see if my company continues to publish diversity stats once the current hiring push ends and moreover, if those stats show an improvement especially with retention/promotion.

    3. pancakes*

      I’m not sure about this “become about” – corporate communications that take place in public have always been about the company trying to trying to put its best foot forward, and it has always been sensible to take them with a grain of salt. The way a company depicts itself in its own communications is very seldom going to align with how its detractors would depict it.

      1. JustKnope*

        +1 to what pancakes said. It’s not some conspiracy that a publicly facing comment is PR! That’s the definition of what PR is, and “PR” isn’t an inherently bad thing. The company wants to be seen as responsive, but it’s reasonable that they aren’t going to find a ton of value in anonymous comments left on a public forum.

        1. Sorrischian*

          I think this idea of PR as being sinister is a weird sibling to the ‘be your whole self at work’ phenomenon. If something or someone is not 100% candid, people jump to the assumption that they’re insincere, untrustworthy, and probably hiding something horrible – when there are plenty of benign, or at least neutral, reasons that explain it just as well.

          I’m also convinced this is connected to the social media fixation on ‘authenticity’.

          1. pancakes*

            Maybe. I’m inclined to think a lot of the people in the “this is sort of sinister” camp are accustomed to working with small businesses, and don’t have much experience with the sort of companies that have, say, an investor relations department, or routinely put out things like press releases and annual reports. There seems to be this idea that either someone from the company should react to a negative review either spontaneously and without any sort of filtering or not at all, but that’s not a smart way to communicate with the public even for a sole proprietor. It’s not uncommon, but that doesn’t make it smart, let alone an ethical imperative.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            I’m also convinced this is connected to the social media fixation on ‘authenticity’.

            Which always cracks me up because the vast majority of social media is meticulously curated to paint a specific picture, including, “look how authentic I am!”. This is fine – if I used social media, I certainly wouldn’t be posting my dirty laundry for the world to see either, but I think it’s important to recognize that much of it is personal PR and not real life.

        2. Hrodvitnir*

          Yeah, I mean I basically would assume all such communication is PR – but that is a mild negative in as far as the impression of a strong PR presence would make me wary of it being a company with high expectations in as far as the kind of face they want you to present at work. It wouldn’t stop me interviewing though, I’d just be extra on the lookout when vibing it out.

          I certainly don’t hold this stance due to any kind of social media “authenticy” lens though, I just don’t have it in me to work in environments like that. I may eventually end up in office work and it scares me, honestly, coming from the wildly more relaxed medical and lab environments.

    4. Jack Straw*

      It doesn’t “come off as harsh” because the interviewee is transparent and honest about why they respond–their job title is literally marketing. ;) It’s not harsh because it’s not as if they are trying to hide the reasons why.

  10. Water Dragon*

    This was a lovely and informative interview. Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions.

    However: workers, don’t be fooled. These sites are supposed to be for workers to exchange information with each other about what it’s really like for someone to work somewhere. An employer having any input into that really waters down the process.

    It’s the equivalent of bringing up a work issue with a coworker in the break room. The manager comes in, overhears you, and starts interjecting the Official Corporate Position and mucks up an otherwise genuine conversation. The companies have their own websites and resources to do PR and damage control. They don’t have to thought-police every nasty thing everyone has ever said about them, and it’s lame that they are allowed to participate in the discussion. Whenever you see a company responding to a lot of reviews, it’s a red flag.

    1. kdizzle*

      I think you phrased it well with your example about the break room. I think it does give one pause to see the company so involved in the reviews, and it’d be hard for me to think that a company so concerned with responding to reviews would also not be involved in planting positive reviews.

      1. Oak Tree*

        I agree, I have no beef with this OP who seems lovely, but as an applicant I’d be weirded out to see a lot of responses to glassdoor reviews. As an author, they tell us all the time never to engage with Goodreads or Amazon reviews because we’re inserting ourselves into a readers space. It would also just strike me as a bit odd that a company was so preoccupied with their reviews that it’s someone’s job to respond to some percent of them. I guess I haven’t worked at such big companies before though.

        1. Lisa B, interviewee*

          That’s an interesting point about not inserting yourself as an author. I wonder if a difference with Glassdoor compared to being an author is we can assume Good Reads reviewers are reviewing your writing/your work as an author rather than you. Glassdoor is not reviews of my company’s work, but of my company, so we’re more prompted to get in front of those comments. Also responses are such a small part of my job that it’s not really a preoccupation for us, but I do see why it might seem weird.

          1. Kaiko*

            I’m curious about what – how much of your time does the Glassdoor business takes up, and what else do you do in your role?

            1. Lisa B, interviewee*

              The amount of time I spend varies week to week, but it’s minutes versus hours. Avoiding specifics for anonymity, but basically my team and I drive the employer brand strategy for my company and execute campaigns to attract the candidates with the skills or attributes our hiring team is looking for. You can look up “talent marketing,” “recruitment marketing,” “employer brand” on LinkedIn or other job sites to get a better idea.

        2. quill*

          It doesn’t surprise me, (I’ve made the mistake of mentioning a brand name on twitter before…) but I feel like it definitely changes the atmosphere to see too many responses. If it’s about conditions which would definitely concern the company as a whole (harassment, etc) I can see being less put off by responses from corporate, because they sort of have to take those seriously.

        3. sb51*

          Ditto—I’d take the presence of replies, of any sort, to be a small red flag. Same as all the restaurants (etc) that reply on Yelp (thanks for positive reviews are okay there, though even then I find them a little intrusive).

          It’s hilarious when a business gets into a knock down drag out fight on social, but it doesn’t make me want to interact with them.

    2. Lisa B, interviewee*

      In a way I agree with you, but I don’t think in most cases it’s as nefarious as you might be reading it.

      I’d also argue that Glassdoor, while it started as a water cooler discussion type site, the additional products they offer make it clear that the site is as much an employer branding tool as it is a water cooler discussion site, and companies treat it as such.

    3. Nanani*

      Kind of reminiscent of how Goodreads started as a site for avid readers to discuss books but has now become yet another marketing site where authors/publishers “engage” and you can’t trust reviews to be genuine.
      The push of monetization ruins everything :/

        1. Nanani*

          Ouch, my calendar.
          I’m getting old, 2013 is basically yesterday (As far as feelings and general impressions of time go)

  11. Marge*

    As someone who was the assistant to a VP who insisted on managing the small business’ Glassdoor reviews herself, there definitely definitely are ways to have reviews that the company disagrees with taken down. I understand that this reader’s company is a lot more ethical, but all companies do not play by these standards. From my observing of this process – Glassdoor would never release the info of the review writer, but would often compromise by taking it down to appease an upset advertiser… Like Yelp, advertising gets you a lot more sway. And yes I have left this company and no I could not do anything to stop this process

    1. Oak Tree*

      It stinks that a small inaccuracy may get the review deleted, I didn’t know that – I often put something small but deliberately not true of my position to throw companies of the scent. Now I realize I’ve just given them a wedge to have my review removed. To be fair, I always try to post something fair and balanced so hopefully they’re not trying to get them taken down, but some companies are pretty weird.

    2. LisaNeedsBraces*

      Yeah, that part didn’t rung true to my experience because I worked for an abusive startup with a nightmare CEO. A director quit and wrote an accurate, but scathing review of her management. This plus two other negative reviews were the only reviews for our company aside interviews. A week later that review was mysteriously taken down and there was two positive reviews in its place that read suspiciously like the CEOs writing voice. Like exact quotes from her “motivational” emails to us. We were not Yelp, but the CEO had some marketing connections. Since the review to my recollection had no inaccuracies and didn’t name anyone, I’m guessing she found another way to do it.

  12. Annie J*

    Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your experience and it’s about what I expected.
    The goal when any company responds to a glass door or trust pilot review it’s not for the benefit of the individual who left The review, but rather, it’s an attempt by the company to shift the narrative focus for third parties who might be reading reviews, it’s a way for companies to say“We care about responding to employee concerns“ without actually having to respond to them.
    It allows companies to virtue signal, in the most literal way.

        1. A Wall*

          Agreed. There’s literally no reason for them to do it that is any good to me as a candidate or current/former employee.

  13. Firm Believer*

    The important thing to remember about Glassdoor is that very glowing reviews are typically overinflated because the company offers an incentive, and horrible reviews are often disgruntled employees who likely weren’t successful, just like any other review site.

    I own a small business and we received a one star review blasting us for a number of things that were categorically false. I was so shocked by it because I couldn’t even begin to know who would have written it! It was a past employee but that was all I knew.

    I sued for libel. Because I didn’t know who wrote it the lawsuit was against an anonymous party and my attorney requested that Glassdoor unmask the writer. Glassdoor does not want these cases because it puts fear in people that they aren’t really anonymous. They took it quite seriously. I was very easily able to discredit the most egregious falsehood – that this person was forced to work insane hours – by submitting all of my employees timesheets and written directives that no hourly employee could work more than 2 hours of overtime a week. After a ton of back and forth and a lot of money, the poster, who I still had no idea who it was, was traumatized and all parties agreed that Glassdoor would remove it. I think she learned a valuable lesson. It was provable libel.

    After the fact the poster blocked me from all social media so it became obvious who it was. She was not necessarily a well liked employee by her colleagues or managers but she was treated well and had a lovely send off when she left. She had continued to comment niceties on my and our social profiles so it was honestly shocking. I have no idea where the vitriol came from.

    Moral is the stuff you put on Glassdoor has to be an OPINION. It can’t be a lie. We have laws against that. She ruined her reputation and reference (which I would have given her a positive one). We are a nice company with nice people. We aren’t a unicorn company and we aren’t an abusive sweatshop. Most companies are somewhere in the middle. Think twice before retaliating against any employer with those reviews.

    1. kdizzle*

      Interesting. I’m actually surprised you had to go as far as suing for libel to get Glassdoor to take it down. I’d think that the threat of suing would be enough.

      1. Lisa B, interviewee*

        Glassdoor is pretty intense about keeping the reviews you want taken down left up. While that’s inconvenient for my job, as an employee, I really appreciate that they will go to bat for reviewers. I think it helps keep the site appearing like a fair place to share your experience.

        1. Firm Believer*

          Yes, in this case Glassdoor actually offered to pay her legal fees if the suit went to court. They really mean it.

        2. Aitch Arr*

          I just wish Glassdoor would do more to take down reviews that are obviously for the wrong company.

          My company goes by an acronym, let’s say ABC, which in our case might stand for Awesome Boots Company.

          There are several other ABCs, but they are not us. They are Allen Bates Corporation, ABC Mining, or ABC Shoes.

          People post reviews of those other ABCs under our profile on Glassdoor and yet even when I report them and it’s clear we are the wrong company (one review said “being a miner in the Colorado mine was terrible” and we are a) not in mining and b) don’t have an office in Colorado), Glassdoor keeps them.

          Maybe that’s because we don’t pay for Glassdoor?

          /rant

          1. Tau*

            I felt really sorry for my first company (it had its warts but was a good place to work overall) who got a review *blasting* them for pressure to work unpaid overtime and concluding that the only good thing about the place were the many excellent lunch options only a few minutes’ walk away.

            Um.

            – they were actually _really_ strict about work time, which made sense as they contracted us out to clients and so us working unpaid overtime for them would in effect mean our actual company was losing money. I literally got coached on how to push back if someone was pressuring me to work extra hours.
            – the place was in the middle of an industrial area. Everyone had to bring lunch.

            Company responded going “are you… sure you have the right place?” But it didn’t look like they could get that review removed.

      2. Firm Believer*

        Well they fought it but I dropped the suit when we came to agreeable terms. It’s interesting how far you feel like taking things when someone attacks your integrity. But they are very strong willed about protecting posters which most the time is a good thing but not when someone defames a person. It’s like writing a Yelp review about finding a finger in your soup when it didn’t happen. That really raises the stakes.

    2. pancakes*

      This is interesting, but I want to point out that it’s also a matter of opinion that “very glowing reviews are often overinflated,” and that negative reviews “are often” just disgruntled employees exaggerating or making things up. Your experience with one very negative review, and with reviews for your own company, doesn’t support making such big generalizations about all the rest.

      1. Firm Believer*

        My opinion is not just based on one experience with one review. There’s a ton of research available on the motivations for people writing reviews.

        1. pancakes*

          I’m aware of that sort of research, and still think these are overly-broad generalizations. I don’t think there is reliable research, either, into just how many negative reviews are from people who “weren’t successful.” That’s beyond the scope of asking people to self-report their motivations. I suppose it could be said that anyone who leaves a negative review wasn’t successful in their role, in a sense, but I think that’s a bit dismissive .

      2. Firm Believer*

        It’s like when you read a Yelp review that starts out “I’ve been to this place dozens of times and normally it’s great but I went on Saturday and the hostess was rude.” Where were the positive reviews for all the other times you went.

        1. Fish Microwaver*

          I’m more inclined to provide generally positive feedback. I’m honest about shortcomings or things that are not my preference. I feel that many reviewers take a single negative aspect and use it to inform their entire review, which comes across as a little unbalanced.

  14. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    One thing I always keep in mind is that the company on the whole can be good, but we’ve all seen instances where 1 manager or 1 department can really be TOXIC. So I wouldn’t immediately discount a scathing review as false simply because it’s not how the company policy on the whole operates; both can be true. A company can have a great PTO policy and encourage employees to take their vacations AND also have a manager who makes it nearly impossible for their department to use that benefit or low-key retaliates when someone does — not enough to trigger HR or legal intervention, but enough to make their employees lives miserable. The problem with having Marketing handle the response isn’t the generic words and platitudes, but the fact that Marketing isn’t really in a position to DO anything for either current or prospective employees.

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      Definitely agree with this. My job has a field component where the majority of employees are and a home office component where I sit, so when I write a response it’s always going to be colored by my own experience at home; I can try my best, but I know my experience is not the experience of most people in my company and I’m sure that comes through sometimes in my responses despite my best efforts.

      1. Ezri Dax*

        I really appreciate this interview, and it’s fascinating to get a glimpse into an employer’s perspective on this issue. That said…when I see that a company responds to Glassdoor reviews, even in a generic, non-offensive, seemingly sensitive way, I’m automatically put off. It’s always so obviously a PR move that likely has no bearing on the content of a review, nor how real issues are addressed at that workplace. It’s interesting that the interviewee’s company finds this strategy to be an effective one, because with me it would be a yellow flag.

    2. PT*

      And to add to this, I worked for a federated nonprofit (which is like a franchise). Let’s say it was the American Llama Association. Each regional Association was its own separate legal entity: ALA Los Angeles and ALA San Francisco and ALA Portland and ALA Denver and ALA New York and ALA Boston, and then there was a National Headquarters, American Llama Association, Inc.

      But Glassdoor has just one listing, the address of the national headquarters, and all of the employees of the separate legal regional entities write their reviews under that listing. But there are several *thousand* separate associations, each with their own CEOs and HRs and payrolls and policies nested under that one listing. It makes the Glassdoor page for the American Llama Association completely useless.

  15. Annie J*

    I have a question, are there any words or phrases that you deliberately avoid using, which ones and if so why?

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      Never say “sorry” since that admits fault, or anything that sounds like our corporate catchphrases (if I worked at Amazon, I would never say “we want every day to feel like day one”) since they can read very much like corporate platitudes and not from a real person.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        I understand that the all the Legal Departments would definitely not want you/Marketing to say “sorry” on the chance that it creates a liability for the company, but on a human-level “sorry” has probably the most positive impact…as long as it’s said sincerely and not “sorry if you have a problem.” If I ran across a company spokesperson that could honestly and courageously say, “I’m sorry that your experience did not match the company’s promises on X issue. We have room for improvement and have XYZ in place to address these issues…” As a prospective employee, I’d probably respect that company more for their courage to acknowledge criticism as true.

        1. Lisa B, interviewee*

          Completely agree with you, but within my role and team, there are many things that we just can’t say, even if they’re true :(

          1. Can Can Cannot*

            This is one of the reasons I usually ignore company responses. Responses are limited by what the lawyers and leadership are afraid of saying, even though it could be helpful or accurate. Not saying “sorry” when “sorry” is the right thing to say, is not a meaningful response.

  16. Daisy-dog*

    Random related tip: When selecting a new vendor (HRIS), one of my sales reps suggested that I look at Glassdoor reviews for my finalists. It can tell you if there is a lot of turnover or if the employees that you will work with are unhappy or other potential issues that you may have as a customer.

    And I now know how to consider the company responses as well.

  17. Boof*

    Do you have any idea how many people follow up on your offer to discuss further, and if so, what has come of it?
    Thanks for the interview!

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      Like two…maybe. I think people use Glassdoor to share and vent, and we use Glassdoor basically for PR as pointed out above; I really think neither side wants a conversation to come out of it.

      1. Boof*

        I totally get it but admit that makes it all sound a bit more disingenuous to leave the email invitation knowing no one’s actually going to seriously respond even if they reviewer does :P It’d be sort of nice to think if there actually were something terrible being revealed on the way out (ie, a horribly toxic boss that had flown under the radar) that might actually get looked into? I know I know, its the way it is.

        1. Emilia Bedelia*

          The people leaving reviews all worked at the company. They presumably know who the higher ups/HR people are who they could talk to if they actually wanted to share something that needed to change. Once they’ve left the company, they would (likely) have less fear of retaliation, so they could reach out to someone to tell them what happened. As someone shared above, someone with a true legal case against a company would pursue resolution through legal channels. Why would anyone with legitimate problems choose Glassdoor as the way to solve it?

          I think Lisa B is probably on point by saying that people who use Glassdoor don’t actually want a conversation – they want to vent and they have a little bit of pleasure in making sure everyone knows they were unhappy. Similar to how people leaving restaurant reviews wouldn’t actually talk to the manager to get their issues resolved at dinner, they just want to vent and not come back.

  18. W. Rogers*

    The politeness with which this interview was conducted should not obscure the subject’s statement that her per pose is to APPEAR authentic to prospective employees rather than to actually BE authentic. We all know marketing involves spin but there is a line across which the spin is unethical and this to me is it. I disapprove of this person’s entire job. Just be honest. If you can’t be honest upfront and genuinely true to your word (“we take all feedback seriously”) then get another job. I would not be able to live with myself if my entire job were about tricking pro into thinking we care about complaints when we actually don’t.

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      Per the interview, my company does take feedback seriously internally. There is no way for you, an external candidate, to see that, so we do our best efforts to replicate that on Glassdoor. Any form of communications you see from any corporate communications medium (social media, Glassdoor, press releases, leadership interviews) goes through the same thought processes as what I’ve described: “how can we make ourselves look as positive as we can while still stating the truth?” It’s just the reality of it.

      I am comfortable with the ethics of my work and sleep great at night, though you’re of course welcome to disapprove of that. And happy to discuss further

      1. ecnaseener*

        Not sure if you’re still reading the comments, but I couldn’t quite tell from the interview: when you leave responses like “this is unacceptable and I will look into it,” do you actually look into it? Do you at least forward the feedback to the right people? If not, I think that’s where the ethical concerns come in, with the lying.

        1. NotAnotherManager!*

          I’m not the interviewee, but, in a management capacity, I have absolutely received forwards with follow-up expected from my company’s Glassdoor monitor regarding reviews left there. HR is involved if there is anything that sounds like discrimination, abuse, or hostile conditions. I have no idea if my company responds to Glassdoor posts, but they are read and acted upon internally.

          In terms of actionable feedback, I get better information from exit interviews because of the way they’re conducted. They also cover everyone and not just the really satisfied or really unhappy – the folks in the middle tend to offer the best thought-out suggestions for improvement. For example, we totally revamped an orientation program based on some really helpful comments from exits and the new version has been much better reviewed.

        2. Echo*

          That was Lisa B’s response to a review she knew was false. It sounds like the unacceptable thing didn’t happen the way the reviewer described, so there was nothing to look into.

          1. Stargazer*

            She also said that she doesn’t really know what goes on outside her own area, though, so might want to take that “knew it was false” with a grain of salt as well.

    2. Presea*

      I respect your opinion, but I think we should also not forget her statement that she believes her company takes the feedback seriously. Among other things, negative reviews get responded to with legitimate contact information in case the poster wants to directly say more about their perceived issues, even if Lisa B doesn’t agree with their perspective.

      Just because doing things about the negative feedback isn’t her job personally, and just because her job is more PR than anything else, doesn’t mean she’s being any more dishonest than any other PR person ever is.

    3. Alict*

      I agree with this. The leveraging of people’s shared lived experiences into a way for corporations to improve their bottom line is utterly dystopic to me. I’m sure OP is a decent person and maybe they even truly believe what they’re saying about how ethical their massive company is (though I’d hope not, tbh), but nine of that changes, to me, how messed up this is at its very core.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I specifically asked her in the interview if she felt her company really does take feedback seriously, and she said she does. To me, that’s key. It’s not unethical for her to confirm that in other contexts.

    5. FD*

      Hrm. I understand your point of view but I don’t think I agree with it. First, the way she describes the way her company handling feedback seems reasonable and fair. (Obviously we have no way of knowing that she’s correct about the way her company handles feedback.) There are limits in terms of how far the company can fix things for employees that aren’t there anymore, so to me, having a solid process for how to fix problems for the employees who are still there is important.

      Secondly, I think that there’s…well frankly a bit of naivete in imagining that the only options are being 100% honest or being unethical. I mean, I’ve worked in customer service for a lot of years.

      1. FD*

        Sorry hit ‘post’ too quickly.

        I feel like providing good service, and even just being a decent person, often requires displaying some kindness and compassion in cases where maybe you aren’t feeling entirely kind or compassionate. I mean, just because a customer is being a Class A jerk, doesn’t mean you get to be a jerk back to them, you know?

        So the truth might be, some of the time, “Yes, you were fired but we gave you three warnings and you kept doing the stuff we specifically told you not to do” but sometimes you just have to be the bigger person.

    6. Tupac Coachella*

      Eh…I feel like both can be true-they can take the feedback seriously without feeling the need to act on every complaint. That would be like expecting Starbucks to change their whole fall lineup because I told them I don’t like pumpkin. Lisa (OP) was pretty transparent that Glassdoor isn’t their primary mechanism for getting feedback because it doesn’t make sense to give it more weight than their internal surveys and other measures. Their priority is their current employees, not satisfying past employee grudges. I got the impression from the interview and the comments that Lisa’s role with the reviews is mostly PR, but she’s a real person who reads the reviews and could escalate any serious concerns that came to light through them.

    7. Cat Tree*

      Where are you getting the idea that it’s a lie to say “we take take all feedback seriously”? I’m genuinely curious what she said that contradicts that?

    8. JustKnope*

      Why should companies take anonymous reviews left on message boards seriously? That sounds dismissive but honestly, the company isn’t going to litigate complaints in the comment section of Glassdoor. This is very standard reputation management practice for a company.

    9. NancyDrew*

      Man, it is WILD to see people so fundamentally misunderstanding the role of communications in large companies.

      Alison, maybe one day there’d be an opportunity to have someone actually define and explain the role of all sorts of comms people (PR, sure, but also internal comms, media relations, investor comms, crisis comms, marketing comms, social media comms) and how they all work together.

      A lot of people here clearly have no idea!

  19. anon today*

    At my 80-ish person non-profit office, it’s usually obvious who left bad reviews (or at least narrowed down to 2 possible people) and also the “glowing” reviews. That said, when we had a run of pretty brutal (but true) glassdoor reviews, HR did have meetings about it and took it seriously. Not sure what the result was.

  20. Anon for this one*

    I know of one instance in particular where the email of the person who left a review was somehow tied to the review and available to our company. He didn’t use his work email for his glassdoor account, but because he had communicated with our company using that same personal email before, our HR department was able to piece together which current employee left the negative (but totally justified) review. They used this info to confront (!) the employee about it in a meeting… our awful HR manager crowed about it for weeks.

    I have no idea how the email was tied to the review, or how/why our company was able to see it.

    1. Lisa B, interviewee*

      Not to be dismissive of your experience, but there is no backend view of the reviewer’s email address. Perhaps this person wrote something in their review that identified them, but there is truly no way for us to see info the reviewer did not provide.

  21. bellalye*

    What’s a fishbowl/blind page (“look at a company’s Fishbowl/Blind page”)?

    I’m job searching after leaving the k-12 education field and I’ve never heard of this.

  22. FD*

    It’s interesting to see the split between people who like seeing employer responses and people who don’t!

    For me, the worst thing is if a company responds but sounds petty or defensive. That’s a huge red flag to me and I definitely won’t apply.

    That said, however, I do prefer to see responses. To me, how you respond to (often pretty negative) reviews says a lot at least about your skill in handling

    1. hellohello*

      I come down the same as you. When I look at Glassdoor I’m primarily looking to see if there are trends in the reviews (one super angry review or a bunch of unrealistically glowing reviews don’t mean much, but if there are a lot of reviews pointing out the same issues or positive attributes then that becomes meaningful to me.) A companies response isn’t going to make me overlook or ignore negative reviews, but if they respond in a sensible and non-defensive way, that can be a mark in their favor.

      1. Tau*

        Agreed – and a defensive or blame-y response can be a mark against the company, too.

        The thing I always look for in Glassdoor reviews is if there’s commonality between the positive and negative reviews (describing the same thing but from a different perspective). Those are the things I assume are almost certainly true. My example for this is the place I applied to where the negative reviews complained about unreasonably long hours and too much pressure and the positive reviews included things like “you have to be dedicated” and “not a job for people who just want to put in their eight hours and leave at five on the dot”. I looked at that pattern, decided I was in fact a person who wanted to put in their eight hours and leave at five, and opted to withdraw my candidacy.

      2. Andrew*

        Agreed, companies that have a lot of reviews have trends that you’ll see in the reviews. The company I was at a few years ago, that had reviews mentioned no raises with a weird bonus system and an over-religious upper management. It was just consistent over the years of reviews I’ve read and also experienced during my brief time there

        Also with trends you can see how some places seem to have gotten worse. One company I looked at applying a few years ago had your mix of good and bad reviews and nothing out of the ordinary, but taking a look again, it was crazy how many detailed negative reviews came out on how the company has fared so far during the pandemic. IMO, the positive reviews sounded more like newer employees writing similar reviews, but the negative reviews were far too detailed to take with a gain of salt. Though the responses from the employer seem as neutral as you can get.

  23. twocents*

    The fact that this is pretty focused on candidates makes a lot of sense. I never looked at Glassdoor before I applied at my company, and I recently looked a few months ago perhaps? after seeing an AAM that referenced a Glassdoor. And as a current employee, what I generally found was kind of what the interviewee said: a lot of it was inaccurate or outdated or blown out of proportion.

    But I suppose that’s kind of like Yelp. It’s just harder to tell with someone leaving a review for a company if they’re crazy like you could tell if someone who wrote “this park sucks, the mountain path was all gravel and there wasn’t a restaurant or rest stop at the top” is like… fundamentally unfamiliar with how nature works. But some companies really do be crazy.

  24. Anon for this*

    This is not a job I’m proud of, but when I was just out of college I was hired by a publishing company to write 5 star reviews for their books on Amazon, to make sure algorithmically they were getting recommended, I was one of a team of maybe five or six people just for that single company who just did that. It made me a little cynical about online reviews and I’ve always wondered about Glassdoor reviews and whether there is similar cheats to the system that companies use.

    1. Fried Eggs*

      It’s not totally a cheat, but one of my old companies would email new employees after one month and ask them to to leave a Glassdoor review.

      Usually one month into a job, you don’t see all the issues yet. You’re just happy your new job doesn’t have the disfunction your old job did. You haven’t realized that that thing that seems slightly annoying will grow into a huge headache. You don’t have the perspective to realize upper management is causing a lot of problems.

      So even though we had huge management deficiencies, we ended up with a lot of 5-start reviews that were like “Everyone is so nice, and the onboarding is the best I’ve ever experienced.”

      1. AnalystintheUK*

        Although that’s not technically a cheat, it feels hugely ethically problematic. I can completely understand the reasons for doing it, but you’re not getting honest reviews at all so it skews the results for everyone. It makes less happy employees who happen to check Glassdoor feel even unhappier, and if it were me I would certainly lose all trust with HR; it feels like a good way to lose good employees!

    2. NancyDrew*

      As someone who spent 12 years in publishing…I’m hoping and assuming this isn’t a reputable publisher. Because that is NOT something I’ve ever heard of!! (And I worked for a name you all know!)

  25. Megan*

    This was interesting. Thank you to OP for agreeing to do this interview. In my experience, I have found most of the Glassdoor reviews for places I’ve worked to be fairly accurate, although I did work for a few really terrible employers where the reviews skewed more positive overall than I thought was accurate based on the general views of everyone I met working there.

  26. mememe*

    Thank you for doing this interview! This answered so many questions I’ve always had about how glassdoor works. You sound really good at your job, Lisa B!

  27. PrincessButtercup*

    I’m probably too late to this but I would love to know what commenters think are effective/good/useful Glassdoor reviews. I’ve been weighing leaving one for my old company. I want it to be genuinely useful for job hunters, as they have a very, very highly managed PR reputation (about how great they are) but it’s a very negative atmosphere. I know not to just make it a list of personal grievances and focus a bit more broadly, but would be curious if anyone can think of a review they found helpful and what made it so.

  28. Anon4This*

    It is not true that Glassdoor doesn’t provide user information to employers (source Glassdoor). Please correct that.

    Glassdoor actually states clearly that, while they make every effort to maintain anonymity they have been sued and lost to employers claiming defemation. Because of that they recommend you stick to vague opinions – it’s not a great place to work as a minority. Vs facts that may get your information revealed – while I was there the CEO called my black coworker a monkey. After my coworker complained he was fired and the CEO wasnt punished – could get your information relinquished.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Providing it in response to a lawsuit is a very different thing than turning it over to an employer who just wants it, which is what the OP was talking about.

  29. Anon4This*

    I dealt with a review like that a few years ago. I was shocked to find out who’d written it, and it included a number of blatant falsehoods about how the organization had responded to a work situation. Essentially, they had an interpersonal issue with their office made, never raised it with anyone except a junior coworker (despite regular check-ins with their supervisor), the coworker raised it with HR, and the situation was dealt with same-day with a choice of alternatives and follow-up to ensure they had no additional concerns. They stated that they was pleased with the speed of response and the outcome multiple times, including in an exit interview conducted by a neutral third party. A year after they left, they posted on Glassdoor that the organization had put them in physical danger and refused to do anything about it when they complained multiple times. We did reach out via Glassdoor on that one, and both and HR and executive leadership spoke with them about their experiences. We did not ask them to change or remove the review. My personal theory is that it was a hit job for our declining to engage in an absurdly overpriced, post-employment consulting agreement that they very aggressively pitched on their way out the door.

    Honestly, reading through ours, they very much follow the love it/hate it dynamic. For a decades-old organization that employs 500+ people, there are fewer than 50 reviews and maybe a third of them are scorchers (at least two of which I personally know to be demonstrably false). We have low turnover, so, generously, those reviews represent than 5% of our employees. Outside of identifying issues that need to be addressed internally, I find dealing with Glassdoor reviews generally exhausting and futile – if you respond, you’re a PR shill or defensive or trying to discredit reviewers; if you don’t, you don’t care about candidates or addressing issues.

  30. LadyProg*

    I have ignored red flags on Glassdoor before and will never do it again! The angry reviews were probably not that accurate but they were a sign of disfunction for sure, and the answers from the company were not great. I joined the company anyway because I knew it’d be less stressful than my previous job (and I was right!) and that’s all that I needed at that point anyway.

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