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5 Things to Watch out for about Your Potential Boss in a Job Interview

5 Things to Watch out for about Your Potential Boss in a Job Interview

When interviewing for a new job, there are lots of things to think about. One is how you perceive your potential boss. This is important because all the research shows that people quit their jobs most often due to bad relationships with their managers—not because of the work.  The most critical relationship you will have at work is with your boss. If you don’t have a good relationship with him or her, it will make your work difficult.

Assessing your ability to get on with your potential boss is referred to in HR and Recruitment as “Cultural Fit.” As you may only get to meet your prospective new boss once during the job interview process, it’s very important to find out as much as you can about how they work, think and what is important to them. It’s a tall order, but by asking some key questions, and observing their behavior, you can learn a lot.

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Do some research.

The first step you can take before the job interview begins is to check for references to your boss online. Are they mentioned anywhere? If so, what is said about them, and what have they said? The more senior they are, the more likely you will find information about them and their professional experience online. This may help you to learn where they have worked, how long they have been in their current role, if they were promoted,  and comments they have made about their company or industry. All of this should will help provide a picture of the type of person your potential boss is, and how they communicate.

In every interview you have, try to find out the answers to the following questions about your potential boss.

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5 Questions to Help You Find out More about Your Potential Boss

1. What is their communication style?

This will likely become clear when you talk to them. One thing to find out is whether they speak slowly or quickly. That will help you to pace your speech to match theirs. If they are a slow talker, and you speak very fast, your style might overwhelm them and that could be seen as a problem. Do they use their hands, or sit still? If you use your hands a lot, you might see them looking at your hands because it’s a different style to theirs. Place your hands in your lap if this is the case. Observe whether they stand up, sit down or fidget when talking.  If your potential boss is walking around, pacing or sitting above you on the desk when asking you questions, this will give you some insight into how they will talk to you in future.

You can also ask the manager what their communication style is directly, or by asking “How do you like to receive communications from your team?” If he says by email only, or in person, then you will know how he expects you to give updates on your work or ask questions. Find out what makes your potential boss happy when it comes to communication and you’ll be able to think about changes you will have to make to adapt to their style.

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2. What is their leadership style?

Ask this question of your potential boss directly. He will have an answer. It might be that he is a  “hands-on” or “hands-off” manager. A hands-on manager is one who typically likes to be very involved in what their team members are doing, sometimes being over-bearing or micro-managing. If that doesn’t bother you, that’s great, but if you like autonomy, a hands-on manager is likely not the best fit for you to be able to do your best. A hands-off  manager will leave you to do your job, which is great if you are disciplined, know your work and are a self-starter, but sometimes this style can be too hands-off, to the point where the boss is not available, or willing to help you. If you need some guidance, or prefer it, a hands-off style might not be your best fit.

3. Are they well respected by leadership?

You are most likely to get an answer to this from your potential team members, but also from the other managers and leaders in the company. If at all possible, you should meet with at least one person from outside the team. If they say things to indicate the boss is doing a good or great job, or has achieved a lot, that’s a good sign. Any negative talk about the potential boss or team members is a warning sign that the group might not be respected by other parts of the organization. That’s important because a team that is not well-liked is often under pressure to deliver more, faster and with less resources. Keep your ears open for negative, neutral and positive comments. Look at body language as well. Someone might not say bad things about your potential boss, but by tensing up, crossing arms, or being vague, they can give you signs that all is not well.

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4. Do they have a favorite team member?

Never ask this question, but try to figure out whether or not the boss has favorites. You can often tell this by the way they talk about their team members. They might mention someone again and again as having achieved great things, which will be a clue that that person is well respected and relied on. If you get the sense that this is the case, then make sure you spend time with that person in interviews, to find out more about the boss’s style. They likely know him or her best and can tell you how the boss likes things done. Also, it’s important to know how you feel about working with this person. Will you clash, or get on well? Clearly their style is one that the manager likes, so ask yourself how that might affect you if you are very different from this team member.

5. What do they expect of you?

It’s very important to understand what you will be expected to accomplish in your new job, before you accept it. Ask your potential boss “What do you expect me to achieve in the first three, six and twelve months in this role?” If his answers seem unrealistic, or you are not sure you are able or willing to do what is expected, you will know that before joining the organization and can make the best decision for your self.

While the questions above are a guide, they are important things to find out to help you make the best decision about whether your potential boss, the organization and the team would be a good “cultural fit” for you where you can thrive. 

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career

Congratulations, you’re starting a new job! You’re feeling relieved that the interviews and the wait for a decision from the hiring manager is over, and you’ve finally signed the offer.

Feelings of fear and anticipation may surface now as you think about starting work on Monday. Or you may feel really confident if you have plenty of work experience.

Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones. It’s very common for seasoned professionals to overestimate themselves due to the breadth of their experience.

Companies offer different depths of on-boarding experiences.[1] Ultimately, success in your career depends on you.

Below are 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career.

1. Your Work Starts Before Your First Day

When you prepared for your interview, you likely did some research about the company. Now it’s time to go more in depth.

  • How would your manager like you to prepare for your first day? What are his/her expectations?
  • What other information can your manager provide so that you can start learning more about the role or company?
  • What company policies or reports can you review that can get you acclimatized to your new job and work environment?

You’ll need to embrace a lot of new people and information when you start your new job. What you learn before your first day at work can help you feel more grounded and prepare your mind to process new information.

2. Know Your Role and the Organization

Review the job posting and know your responsibilities. Sometimes, job postings are simplified versions of the job description. Ask your manager or human resources if there is a detailed job description of your role.

Once you understand your key responsibilities and accountabilities, ask yourself:

  • What questions do you have about the role?
  • What information do you need to do your job effectively?
  • Who do you need to meet and start building relationships with?

Continue to increase your knowledge and do your research through the company Intranet site, organizational charts, the media, LinkedIn profiles, the industry and who your company competitors are.

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This is not a one time event. Continue to do this throughout your time with the company. Every team or project you engage with will evolve and change.

Keep current and be ready to adapt by using your observational skills to be aware of changes to your work environment and people’s behaviour.

3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work

Understanding your work culture is key to help you succeed in your career.

Many of these unwritten rules will not be listed on company policies. This means you’ll need to use all of your senses to observe the environment and the people within it.

What should you wear? See what your peers and leaders are wearing. Notice everything from their jewelry down to their shoes. Once you have a good idea of the dress code you can then infuse your own style.

What are your hours of work? What do you notice about start, break and end times? Are your observations different from what you learned at the interview? What questions do you have based on your observations? Asking for clarity will help you make informed decisions and thrive in a new work setting.

What are the main communication channels?[2] What communication mediums do people use (phone, email, in-person, video)? Does the medium change in different work situations? What is your manager’s communication style and preference? These observations will help you better navigate your work environment and thrive in the workplace.

4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions

You got the job, you’re feeling confident and are eager to show how you can contribute. Check the type of language you are using when you’re approaching your work and sharing your experiences.

I’ve heard many new employees say:

  • “I used to do this at ‘X’ company …”
  • “When I worked at “X” company we implemented this really effective process …”
  • “We did this at my other company … how come you guys are not …”
  • “Why are you doing that … we used to do this …”

People usually don’t want to hear about your past company. The experiences that you had in the past are different in this new environment.

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Remember to:

  • Notice your assumptions
  • Focus on your own work
  • Ask questions, and
  • Learn more about the situation before offering suggestions.

You can then better position yourself as a trusted resource that makes informed decisions tailored to business needs.

5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification

Contrary to common belief, asking questions when you’re starting a new job is not a vulnerability.

Asking relevant questions related to your job and the company:

  • Helps you clarify expectations
  • Shows that you’ve done your research
  • Demonstrates your initiative to learn

Seeking to clarify and understand your environment and the people within it will help you become more effective at your job.

6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand

Starting a new job is the perfect time to set clear expectations with your manager and colleagues. Your actions and behaviors at work tells others about your work style and how you like to operate. So it’s essential to get clear on what feels natural to you at work and ensure that your own values are aligned with your work actions.

Here are a few questions to reflect on so that you can clearly articulate your intentions and follow through with consistent actions:

Where do you need to set expectations? Reflect on lessons learned from your previous work experiences. What types of expectations do you need to set so that you can succeed?

Why are you setting these expectations? You’ll likely need to provide context and justify why you’re setting these boundaries. Are your expectations reasonable? What are the impacts on the business?

What are your values? If you value work life balance, but you’re answering emails on weekends and during your vacation time, people will continue to expect this from you. What boundaries do you need to set for yourself at work?

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What do you want to be known for? This question requires some deep reflection. Do you want to be known as a leader who develops and empowers others? Maybe you want to be known for someone who creates an environment of respect where everyone can openly share ideas. Or maybe you want to be someone who challenges people to get outside their comfort zones?

7. Manage Up, Down, and Across

Understanding the work styles of those around you is key to a successful career. Particularly how you communicate and interact with your immediate manager.

Here are a few key questions to consider:

  • How can you make your manager’s job easier?
  • What can you do to anticipate her/his needs?
  • How can you keep them informed (and prepared) so they don’t get caught off-guard?
  • What are your strengths? How can you communicate these to him/her so that they fully understand your capabilities?

These questions can also apply if you manage a team or if you deal with multiple stakeholders.

8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company

It’s important to keep learning from diverse groups and individuals within the company. You’ll get different perspectives about the organization and others may be able to help you succeed in your role.

What types of relationships do you need to build? Why are you building this relationship?

Here are some examples of workplace relationships:

  • Immediate Manager. He/she controls your work assignments. The work can shape the success of your career.
  • Mentors. These are people who are knowledgeable about their field and the company. They are willing to share their experiences with you to help you navigate the workplace and even your career.
  • Direct Reports. Your staff can influence how successful you are at meeting your goals.
  • Mentees. They are another resource to help you keep informed about the organization and your opportunity to develop others.

Other workplace relationships include team members, stakeholders, or strategic partners/sponsors that will advocate for your work.

Learn more in this article: 10 Ways to Build Positive And Effective Work Relationships

9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

“Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.” – Michelle Obama

You are part of an ecosystem that has gotten you to where you are today. Every single person and each moment that you have encountered with someone has shaped who you are – both positive and negative.

Here’s How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

Make sure you continue to nurture the relationships that you value and show gratitude to those who have helped you achieve your goals.

Summing It Up

There are many aspects of your career that you are in control of. Observe, listen, and make informed decisions. Career success depends on your actions.

Remember to not assume that your new work environment will be similar to previous ones.

Here are the 9 tips for starting a new job and succeeding in your career:

  1. Your Work Starts Before Your 1st Day
  2. Know Your Role and the Organization
  3. Learn the Unwritten Rules at Work
  4. Be Mindful of Your Assumptions
  5. Ask Questions and Seek Clarification
  6. Set Clear Expectations to Develop Your Personal Brand
  7. Manage Up, Down, and Across
  8. Build Relationships Throughout the Company
  9. Keep in Touch With Those in Your Existing Network

Celebrate, enjoy your new role, and take good care of yourself!

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Featured photo credit: Frank Romero via unsplash.com

Reference

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