Working for a jerk of a boss can be a miserable experience. From blaming subordinates for a failed project to constantly talking about themselves, the traits of a bad manager are usually revealed early in the relationship — sometimes, even in your job interview.
Once on the job, however, it's usually too late to do anything about it. That's why job seekers must use the interview process not just to learn more about what their job would entail, but also to gauge what their would-be boss might be like as a supervisor. Here are 10 things job seekers can do during an interview to determine whether their new boss is going to be a jerk.
Taking calls and allowing interruptions during an interview could be a red flag, said business consultant Dianne Sikel.
"That's a sign that they don't value you or your time very much," Sikel told BusinessNewsDaily. "This says a lot about how the communication level is going to be later, especially when facing workplace issues and challenges that need his or her assistance."
They aren't nice to other employees
Watching how a would-be boss interacts with other employees before and after an interview is an excellent way to gauge how they might treat a new hire, said Paul Freiberger, president of Shimmering Resumes and author of "When Can You Start: How to Ace the Interview and Win the Job" (Career Upshift Productions, 2013).
"It's a firsthand look at the state of office relationships and, while every company is different, this is one time to trust your gut," Freiberger said. "If those interactions make you wonder, take that doubt seriously."
They don't give direct answers
Roy Cohen, career coach and author of "The Wall Street Professional's Survival Guide" (FT Press, 2010), said a bad boss is one that talks around an awkward or uncomfortable question during the interview instead of answering it directly.
"If you have done your homework and know of issues and challenges facing the department or company, then you have reason to believe that your future boss is either hiding them or unaware that they are indeed a problem," Cohen said. "Sneaky or dumb are both undesirable character flaws in a boss."
They do all the talking
Bosses that spend the majority of the interview time running their own mouth might be the type of supervisor that job seekers want to avoid, said Katie Karlovitz, business communications coach and founder of On Speaking Terms.
"For whose benefit are they talking, yours or their own?" Karlovitz asked. "If they are dominating the conversation, that tells you something."
They take all the credit
Mary Greenwood, human resources expert and author of "How to Interview Like a Pro: 43 Rules For Getting Your Next Job" (iUniverse, 2012), said prospective employees should take note of whether the interviewer says things such as "I did this and I did that" or puts more of an emphasis on the collective effort, with phrases like "We did this or we did that."
"This helps determine whether he or she considers himself or herself a member of a team, or takes credit for everything the team does," Greenwood said.
They aren't flexible
Phases such as "my way or the highway," "if you follow my rules you will do OK" or "I have my own way of doing things" can mean the employer is more interested in his own system and not other people’s ideas, said career adviser Chris Delaney.
"If you like to contribute, give ideas or if you’re the creative type, then this boss may not be for you," said Delaney, author of "The 73 Rules for Influencing the Interview using Psychology, NLP and Hypnotic Persuasion Techniques" (MX Publishing, 2012).
They don't answer questions
Leigh Steere, co-founder of Managing People Better, said when interviewing directly with a would-be boss, ask how he or she handles various scenarios, such as whether employees' work is reviewed on a daily basis or if the boss is personally involved in helping employees plan their career path.
"The answers can tell you a lot about whether the manager is task-oriented or people-oriented, involved or hands-off, caring or somewhat aloof," Steere said.
They are too nice
While everyone wants to work for a great boss, coming off too charming or flattering during an interview might be cause for concern, said Janet Scarborough Civitelli, a workplace psychologist and career coach.
"If you feel like you are walking on air after an interview because a prospective boss made you feel like the most special person on the planet, that's a bad sign," Civitelli said. "Authentic people are more likely to connect with you without the hardcore wooing."
They bash co-workers
Vijay Ingam, founder and CEO of Interview SOS, said job seekers might want to steer clear of bosses who bash or talk negatively about a co-worker during an interview.
"I'm not sure if I would call these hiring managers 'jerks,' but I personally would not want to work for one of them," Ingam said.
If you don't want to work for a micromanager, job seekers should tailor a question around the type of communication the would-be boss expects when handing out tasks, said Vincent O'Connell, the Asia regional director for the consulting firm Globecon Institute and the co-author of "9 Powerful Practices Of Really Great Bosses" (Career Press, March 2013).
"If the boss states that he or she expects frequent updates and is always wanting to know the exact details of what you are doing, then he or she is demonstrating a penchant for micromanagement," O'Connell said.
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