Bad bosses are a major contributor to employee disengagement. While we do not always get to choose our boss, when we are interviewing for a new position, we do have a choice. However, many job candidates gloss over the person interviewing them and focus more on the job, which can prove to be a mistake.
J.T. O’Donnell, founder and CEO of Work It Daily, an online platform dedicated to helping people solve their career problems, says that during job interviews, candidates should focus on what it will be like to work for the direct supervisor. And she points to one question you can ask during the interview to get a sense of a boss’ style and values: “Can you tell me about the most successful person you ever hired, and what they did that impressed you?”
O’Donnell points out that if you hear: “The best person I ever hired was Jim. He was one of our hardest-working sales employees; first one in, last one out. Not only did he bring in a ton of new clients, but he always responded to emails quickly and arrived to meetings ahead of time,” that could be a red flag. It may mean the supervisor does not value work-life balance, which is a sign of a toxic boss.
A more reassuring answer? O’Donnell tees up this: “It’s hard to pick! Everyone on our team is so great. But I’ll use Sonya, who was recently promoted to a senior position, as an example. She’s never afraid to continue sharing ideas – even though they don’t always work – and try new things that have helped us gain more clients. I just love her positive energy and enthusiasm for what we do.”
In this example, we find a boss who acknowledges the entire team, is specific about what qualities she admires in team members, and encourages growth. This sounds like someone who may be more enjoyable to work for than a workaholic.
JILL, WHAT CAN I DO? I agree with O’Donnell that you need to be deliberate about getting a sense of a potential boss’ style and values, as many people leave supervisors, not companies. She has more great tips to help you identify whether you and your potential new boss will gel, so I encourage you to check them out. It’s no secret that this is one of the most important relationships you’ll have at work, so you need to get this right.