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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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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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