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How to spot a crappy boss during a job interview

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Don’t get stuck with a bad boss

Starting a new job is very similar to starting at a new school. There are new people to meet, new rules to learn, and new friends to make to have lunch with.

And, much like in the classroom, your enjoyment of work is directly affected by the person in charge. While we were able to leave not-so-stellar teachers after nine months, we are not always so lucky in the workplace.

Having a bad boss can cast a dark cloud over your workplace performance. It can cause discomfort, stress, and, most commonly, resentment.


Sorting the good from the bad

It would be great if we could live in world where people were actually classified on a “naughty or nice” list. Unfortunately, we have to work to make that determination ourselves.

However, there are ways to speed up the process of that determination. Reading people can be a difficult task upon your first meeting. But, it is possible to get a read on whether or not someone will be a good boss during your job interview.

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All of this begs the question, how are we able to weed out the bad from the good? According to Sara Stibitz at the Harvard Business Review, there are a variety of ways to see if someone will be a good boss during a job interview.

Think of your needs first

First and foremost, you need to know what you want in order to know what to look for. What this means is, you must first answer what kind of boss and environment you want to work with.

You need to evaluate the level of comfort you would like with the boss, in addition to the relationship. Are you looking for someone to collaborate with? Someone to be your mentor? With these items in mind, you can get some intel based on their personality and demeanor as to how you two will mesh.

Trust your gut

Another important aspect, which is important in many other facets of life, is that you need to trust your instincts. If you get the vibe that he/she is putting on a face and is someone you may not enjoy working with, odds are that will only build up over time. And, as that builds, your workplace happiness decreases.

This can be determined from two different angles. The first is to note how you are being treated during the interview. This lies in their communication skills. Are they asking cookie-cutter interview questions, or are they actually attempting to engage in a dialogue? The second is to see how the process is handled after the interview is over. If they take six months to get back to you, they may not be the person you want to work with every day.

Do your own research

Prior to the interview, it is always a good idea to do some prep work. Check out the interviewer (or boss)’s LinkedIn page to see what their qualifications and job history consist of. This allows you to see their commitment to past/present jobs and can provide schema for the interview. Odds are they are probably Google-ing you, so why not do the same?

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Lastly, a good step to take is to ask to meet some of the staff. This allows you to not only get a feel for the culture of the workplace, but also allows you to see interaction between the boss and existing staff members.

For your next interview, prepare ahead of time by researching the company’s manager, make sure you are aware of how they treat you during and post-interview, and always trust your instincts.


Staff Writer, Taylor Leddin is a publicist and freelance writer for a number of national outlets. She was featured on Thrive Global as a successful woman in journalism, and is the editor-in-chief of The Tidbit. Taylor resides in Chicago and has a Bachelor in Communication Studies from Illinois State University.



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