There’s a lot to think about before you accept a job offer, but one thing we often forget to consider is: Could I see myself working for this boss?
“A boss can literally make or break your career,” says Abhilash Mishra, a senior marketing associate at CresTech Software Systems, in a recent LinkedIn post. “A great boss can make you feel engaged and empowered at work, will keep you out of unnecessary office politics, and can identify and grow your strengths. But a bad boss can make the most impressive job on paper (and salary) quickly unbearable.”
And while there are many ways to try to combat the effects of a bad boss, none of those tactics guarantee improvement, “and quite often, they’ll lead to more stress,” Mishra says.
That’s why you’ll want to spot a bad boss before they become your bad boss.
Here are three ways to tell whether your interviewer is a terrible manager:
1. Pronoun usage. Performance consultants say that the top verbal tell a boss gives is in his pronoun choice and the context in which it is used, Mishra explains.
“If your interviewer uses the term ‘you’ in communicating negative information (such as, ‘you will deal with a lot of ambiguity’), don’t expect the boss to be a mentor. If the boss chooses the word ‘I’ to describe the department’s success, that’s [also] a red flag.” And if the interviewer says “we” when speaking about a particular challenge the team or company faced, it may indicate that he deflects responsibility and places blame.
2. They’re distracted.“The era of email, BlackBerry, and smartphones have made it ‘okay’ for people to develop disrespectful communication habits in the name of work,” Mishra says. “Particularly in a frenzied workplace, reading email while a person is speaking, multi-tasking on conference calls, and checking the message behind that blinking BlackBerry mid-conversation has become the norm of business communications.”
But, regardless of his or her role in the company, the interviewer should be striving to make a good impression and be completely focused on the conversation — which should include shutting down devices to give you undivided attention. “If your interviewer is glancing at emails while you’re speaking, taking phone calls, or is late to the interview, don’t expect a boss who will make time for you.”
3. They can’t give you a straight answer.Another telltale sign is 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, or what has created the need to hire,” Mishra says. “For example, if you are told the person was a ‘bad fit,’ it may indicate that the workplace doesn’t spend much time on employee-development, and blames them when things don’t work out.”
You should also question turnover rates, how long people stay in given roles, and what their career path has been. “All of these answers can indicate not only if the boss is one people want to work for, but whether pay is competitive, and employees are given a career growth plan.”