How to establish what your (potential) future boss is like at interview…

A manager will usually have a direct impact upon the performance and morale of their team. Working for an inspiring boss can make work a wonderful experience and will benefit your career.

To paraphrase Ronald Reagan “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. They are the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.”50b6f05e-efc7-4d70-b430-32c0c0129334-original

Which is true right? You work for a great leader and you’ll find that you’re motivated to produce greater results. On the flip side, work for a terrible boss and work can become a chore, you can lack development and frankly, your confidence will suffer which could affect your future career prospects.

So, what can you do to establish what type of leader your (potential) new boss will be?

Here are a few tips:

ANALYSE CORRESPONDENCE you’ve had prior to interview – is it professional, friendly, respectful? Did they reply in a timely manner?

LOOK AROUND THE OFFICE – Are people happy? Are they interacting? Does their body language change when the boss is near? Are there any indicators of a team culture such as photos of a night out or at an awards ceremony?

READ BETWEEN THE LINES – Are their questions about how you follow process or what you’ve done to add value? It may indicate a sense of control as to how the individual likes to manage if they are only concerned about how you perform certain tasks, rather than discussing how you could benefit by taking on extra challenges.

ARE THEY INTERESTED IN YOU AS A PERSON? Do they get excited when talking about your experience? If no, they may not be an inspiring manager who adapts their behaviour to each individual in the team, taking a personal interest in their development.

CAN THEY GIVE A STRAIGHTFORWARD ANSWER as to why the role is available? If they seem unclear there could be a reason for that – did the previous person leave due to being demotivated or unchallenged perhaps?

SPEAK TO OTHERS – contact ex-employees on LinkedIn and ask their advice. You’d be surprised how frequently people are happy to help.

ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS! For example ‘Who has developed the most in your team and why is that?’ or ‘How will you know if I have achieved in this role after 12 months?’ – both will give an indication of their management style and what they perceive success to be.

Finally, there is lots to be said for trusting your instinct. As Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book, Blink, “There are moments when our snap judgements and first impressions can offer a much better means of making sense of the world.”

So there you are, research and trust your gut feeling! You could just make one of your better decisions. One that will not only help with your career success, but also that of your overall happiness.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you’d like some advice on other questions to ask at interview, I’m more than happy to help.

Paul Miller
SENIOR CONSULTANT – GOVERNANCE
T: +44 (0) 207 337 8824
E: paul.miller@hfg.co.uk

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