It is increasingly common for job seekers to do research on companies they are interviewing with. LinkedIn and Glassdoor are 2 of the more popular sources.

It's all well and good if you're looking to hire new talent and your company gets good reviews, but what if it doesn't?

"We don't often get negative reviews on Glassdoor, but when we do, we just ignore them.”

The above response was from an HR personnel at an insurance company. The overall impression was that it was best "not to validate" a negative review with an answer, which could sound defensive.

However, as Glassdoor and other employer review portals figure more prominently in the decision making process for potential new hires and the job market continues to be fiercely competitive, more HR and hiring managers are realizing that a strategy needs to be in place to address negative online reviews, and they want to know what the best practices are.

An HR professional who was quoted anonymously said:

"...We have been monitoring the [Glassdoor] reviews but recently received a less than positive review and are looking for advice on the best way to respond. It seems to me like it's more of a communications issue from an external perspective, but I would like to know what others are doing.”

So what are others doing?

A 2015 survey by recruitment form CareerArc revealed that 62% of job seekers visit social media sites to evaluate an employer's brand, yet only 57% of employers say they have an employer brand strategy.

In short, most companies don't have a formal strategy for dealing with social media (and negative employee reviews) in place.

Just how should you respond to negative reviews?

A post on Glassdoor's blog encourages employers to respond to negative reviews when they see them. According to a 2016 Glassdoor survey, 62% of job seekers said a response to a negative review would improve their perception of a prospective employer. The post advised companies to assign a specific person to respond to reviews and emphasized the importance of responding promptly. According to Jacquese Brown, Home Depot's Manager of Employment Marketing and Branding, her company aims to respond to 80-90% of all reviews and prioritizes reviews by urgency and gravity.

When responding to criticism, be direct and positive

Be sure to address each point that a reviewer made in a comment and explain how the company plans to address the issue. If possible, the response should come from the company CEO, to demonstrate the seriousness that the company places in addressing concerns and in solving them.

Here is an example from a Glassdoor blog post featuring CEO responses to reviews:

"First, I would like to apologize for my tardy reply. I want to thank you for taking the time to give us your feedback. I am really sorry that your experience at ABC did not match our intention of being the best place you the ever worked. We are taking your feedback and addressing all the places we missed in delivering a great experience for you.... Thanks also for your advice. We are planning to start ABC surveys as soon as our online system is configured to help us with this very important request. If you would like to share more about your experiences please contact me by emailing so that we can set up a time to talk. Thank you again for the feedback. It helps us make ABC a better place and best of luck in your future endeavors.

With Gratitude,

ABC Company”

Actively monitor sites like Glassdoor

Time is of the essence when you are responding to negative reviews. If you see one, you should plan to respond to it within 24 hours, because silence from the company can signal tacit acceptance of the criticism in the minds of many job candidates who rely on the site for reviews.

Be prepared to address issues directly in interviews

If your company recently had a negative review on a social media channel, it is likely that job candidates you interview will have also seen it. Be prepared to answer job candidate concerns about what they might have seen or heard. Be open about issues, and explain what the company is doing about them.

Take positive steps to correct legitimate concerns.

If a flood of negative reviews with legitimate concerns comes in from social media about a particular department or area of your company, look into it and take corrective measures as needed. Using these reviews constructively, you can work to promote positivity in your work environment.

Companies can also help themselves by taking proactive steps to develop pleasing work environments and opportunities for those who work for them. While this won't necessarily prevent you from getting a negative view on a site like Glassdoor, you can probably count on getting fewer of them at the same time that you are promoting the brand of your company.