Monday, January 23, 2012

How to Spot a Bad ‘Would-be’ Boss During Your 1st Interview

You have been invited to an interview with a company that has a great reputation, good pay, great prospects and the job description sound like it was written with you in mind. You have been waiting a long time for this one. This could be the perfect job. Your time has come.  This job appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime.  You can see yourself in the position and envision your career finally taking off.

You have done your homework on both the company and the interviewer[s].  You have all the answers ready with all the examples.  In reality, you have been preparing for this opportunity for a very long time.  When you get to the interview, you look great, feel great, you are well groomed and your clothes are sharp. You are feeling confident and fully prepared.

The relationship between managers and direct reports is the number one factor in morale, productivity and retention of high performers. One thing which causes high stress in individuals at work is the management style of their boss.  

Telltale signs that the interview will not go well:
Interview starts late
You are greeted with a limp handshake
You are ushered into a room and the interviewer disappears immediately before the interview begins
Interviewer seems harried, unfocussed and doesn’t bother to turn off electronic communication devices

Is this really your dream job?  Asking the right questions can help you find out.

This is not the right job for you if the interviewer provides vague answers to your questions. Listen for pauses, awkwardness, or overly-generic responses when you inquire what happened to the person who held the position you are interviewing for, and/or what has created the need to hire. (If, for example, you are told the person who held the job previously was a “bad fit,” it may be an indication that the workplace doesn’t spend much time on employee-development, and blames the employee when things don’t work out).

Ask about turnover rates.  The relationship between managers and direct reports is the number one factor in morale, productivity and retention of high performers.  High turnovers rates are always a RED FLAG

Ask the interviewer if they or the company is open to suggestions or ideas coming from employees and then ask when they last took forward an employee suggestion or idea.  Are they struggling in their answer? Is the example worthy of a great manager and employer? Bad managers don’t follow up on employee ideas. If they do provide a worthy answer, it shows they are supportive, approachable and they listen. A great manager removes all obstacles to help their staff do the best job possible.

Ask the interviewer when they last praised an employee or team and why.   
If they haven’t ever done this, be wary. [It's a RED FLAG]
Ask them for their opinion on individual development and training.   Ask yourself if you have you ever been denied a professional development opportunity, because your manager said that it would take too much time away from work.   Employers that ignore professional growth needs are doing both you and the company a disservice. [It's a RED FLAG]

Ask them if and when they last asked for feedback on their management style and what were the results of their inquiries.  A good manager will always be looking to improve their performance and style and one of the best ways to do this, is to ask their staff for feedback. If they have asked for this feedback, ask them how have they used the information to improve.  This management style is also an indication of how they treat their direct reports.

Ask them for their views on delegation. How do they delegate? Do they delegate? Do they micro manage their direct reports? Great managers build trust in their staff. A quick and easy way to build trust is to delegate work that uses and exploits individuals’ strengths the right level of control and supervision.

Interviews should be viewed as two-way streets. You are interviewing your "would-be" manager and the company to the same degree that they are interviewing you. Take advantage of the fact that you can ask any questions you want and if you ask the right questions, you won’t end up working for an incompetent and bad manager and your career won’t suffer. 

Did you find this article useful?  Please let me know and/or share the article and comments with your friends.

Copyright © 2012, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2011, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog hosted by Mary Salvino, Senior Consultant for SMART Career that is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future job opportunities. We welcome readers to share their experiences, post their comments or ask questions about career related matters. This blog is also dedicated to those who stand a little taller each time they picked themselves up after failing and those who gained the wisdom and humility from those experiences to help others do the same. For any questions or comments that are better addressed privately, please feel free to e-mail Mary directly at