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Job Washing 101: What is it, and how to avoid it?


12 January 2023 | Amie Duignan

Have you ever accepted a job, and once you started, you have found out that it’s actually nothing like what the interviewer sold you on? You think you’ve found your dream role, the whole recruitment interview stages were a breeze and everything felt so aligned, only to find a month into the role you have been completely sold just that, a dream…


You sit there, confused, scratching your head. Maybe you even let it hit your confidence. Maybe the reason you’re not getting all the opportunities you were promised is you? Maybe the reason they’re suddenly not permitting those flexible working arrangements you discussed is your work performance in the role? You’re baffled, wondering where it all went wrong.


First off, it’s definitely not you. Chances are that you’ve experienced a phenomenon called “job washing”.

What is Job Washing exactly?

Job washing is a new concept, recently borne out of a dire labour shortage across the employee market. It takes its inspiration from the term “greenwashing” and follows the same concept: making bold claims about how progressive and promising the role is but failing to back these claims up or deliver on promises made during the interview process.


It’s important to note that sometimes the hiring manager is so desperate for staff that they do not mean to intentionally mislead you. However, if you happen to have experienced this, chances are you may still feel frustrated and resentful.

Spotting the warning signs early

Knowing how to spot the signs of job washing are key during the interview process. There are a number of ways in which the interviewer may jobwash, some examples are below:


  • Emphasising flexible work policies but unable to provide concrete examples of how it's currently done for existing team members,
  • Discussion of great training and development opportunities, without being able to provide examples of how they’re currently doing this for the existing team, and/or
  • An overemphasis on the “fun” part of the job and denial of any less fun work.


Knowing these three examples of job washing is the first step in making sure you go into the interview equipped to suss out what’s real, and what is a hiring manager desperate for staff.

How you could prepare yourself for success before an interview?

When you go into an interview, make sure you’re walking in with the mindset that you’re also interviewing the company. You want to see if they fit with your goals. Have a mental check-list of what is important to you in a role, and test how the company aligns. Knowing what you want is key, as you’ll be able to ask the hiring manager the right questions about the role.


After clarity and awareness, the next step is to make sure you arrive at the interview with some very selected questions to ask the interviewer. Remember, you’re also interviewing them. You’re justified in any curiosity about work perks, flexibility, and other things that align to what’s important to you.


Some questions you could ask, to make sure you’re not being job washed are:


  1. Could you explain more on the flexible work arrangements, what exactly does that look like?
  2. How many days does your current team work from home?
  3. What is your onboarding process like?
    a. Could you give me a few examples / more details on how it goes?
  4. Do you sit down and organise career maps of where this role could go?
  5. What drew you (the interviewer) to the company? 

Already accepted the offer? Here’s what you can do

If you’re reading this article after you’ve accepted a job that isn’t quite what it was made out to be in the interview, do not despair! In this job market you still have a lot of power and can decide how to respond to being in this situation. Some options for you to consider are:


  1. Having a chat to your manager about how you feel there was perhaps a miscommunication and that XYZ outlined in the interview hasn’t come to fruition. Ask for the pathways forwards to XYZ.
  2. Start job hunting again! If you’re clear on what you want and this new role doesn’t align, then get back out there and keep hunting. The role aligned to you is out there, I promise!


Feeling like you’ve been mis-sold a role is not great, however, if you can pivot your mindset then you can look at it as an opportunity! You have the opportunity to decide: do you want to stay in this role, or do you want to take advantage of a hot job market and find one more suited for you?


Don’t be afraid to job hop either, and if you are – check out this article to soothe your fears.

Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.