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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 September 18, 2019

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

11 Hard Skills That Will Land You More Career Opportunities

Are you looking to move up the career ladder? Or maybe you’re tired of having a “job” and want to start looking for a more permanent career?

Whatever your motivation, you are going to have to learn some new and different hard skills to broaden your opportunities. After all, there’s a very famous quote that says:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

While the insanity part doesn’t really fit here, the overall message is a good one. If you are looking for a different result (career advancement, more money or even a career instead of a job), it’s up to you to make it happen. This is both the good news and bad news!

The good news is that because it’s up to you, you have complete control over it happening. The bad news is that change is hard. Humans are creatures of habit, that’s why we develop routines, and anything that disrupts that routine causes us anxiety. And we will do almost anything to get rid of that anxiety. The overweight person will calm their anxiety by eating that doughnut, the smoker will light up a cigarette to avoid anxiety.

What we want to do with this article is to give you the hard skills you’ll need to reduce that anxiety so you can move up that corporate ladder, make more money or have career instead of just a “job.”

The following hard skills are essential to learn if you want to advance your career. They may not be easy to take up, but definitely worth your effort of learning:

1. Cloud Computing

“Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet “the cloud” to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.” Microsoft[1]

There are many different jobs available in the cloud computing world today. They range from architects and developers to data scientists, security pros. Each job is its own specialty and requires a high level of specification for advancement.

This is definitely a hard skill that requires education. But if the tech world and computers are your thing you can make cloud computing a lucrative career.

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2. Data Mining and Statistical Analysis

Again, these are highly specialized fields. Data mining is defined as using large sets of data to look for anomalies and other patterns that can be used to predict future behavior.

Amazon is probably the best known company to use data mining. Have you ever noticed that when you buy something at Amazon, you’ll see a little ad at the bottom that says “customers who bought this also bought…”and it lists 2-3 other items? All of that information comes from data mining, by examining the millions of sales amazon makes they can predict that if you buy item #1 there is a high likelihood that you will buy one of the other items too. T

his not only increases sales for Amazon, but it also serves as a reminder for you that you may need these additional items for your project. This is very valuable information and has a wide range of uses. Although it has a bad reputation and evil sounding name, it is a very useful tool for maximizing productivity and sales.

3. Data Management

All companies today deal with a ton of data! Being able to manage that data in an efficient manor is not only highly prized, but a necessity.

We all have these things on our desks called computers. Unless there is a need for a paper copy, almost all of our data is computerized. Meaning that, in theory it is all at our fingertips. Being able to organize that data so that it’s easily and quickly retrievable is why computers are replacing filing cabinets!

However, just like the old fashion filing cabinet, data management on a computer is only good if it’s well organized. You want to make sure that you are keeping your data well organized so that it’s easy to find when needed. This is a skill that comes easily to some people (are you a person that makes lists? Good!) but with others it will be a skill that needs to be practices. Make sure that this is a discipline you master.

4. Scheduling

Being able to make and keep to a schedule is a very useful tool in both business and life. Effective scheduling means that you can prioritize projects, understand the tools needed to get the job done on time and that you are organized enough to lead people.

An important point here is to write things down! Whether it’s in an old fashion daily or weekly organizer or in a PDA. Have a copy of your schedule available at your fingertips at all times.

5. Financial Skills

These are especially important when looking for that promotion. The higher up the ladder you go, the more you’ll have to deal with things like accounting, budgeting, financial planning and cash flow management.

While you may not need to be an expert at all of these, you should have a good grasp of all of them. This is where taking a few night classes at your local community college is a good idea. You don’t need to become an expert, but brushing up on these skills will help you tremendously.

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6. Research Skills

These are important in all aspects of life, but especially in your work-life.

Are you looking for that first job out of school? Nothing impresses a boss or hiring manager more than someone who has researched the company. Trust me, they deal with people walking in off the street everyday looking for a job, but managers and owners need to see the value in hiring (or promoting) you.

So do your research and have some company specific questions ready to ask. Show that you are interested in working for that company or that position and not just “a” job or the “promotion” because you have seniority or need the money.

If it’s a promotion that you are after, never bad mouth the previous occupant. Instead pick out an example that he/she was good at and explain how you would like to use or expand that policy and how it would enhance the policy changes you’d like to make.

If it’s a new job you’re going for, then make sure to have some company specific questions ready to show that you have done your homework for the new position.

7. Marketing Skills

While marketing a companies products or services has always been a highly sought after skill. In today’s world, it can take on several different forms.

Some of the marketing skills that are highly sought after today include, SEO, Search Engine Optimization, SEM, Search Engine Marketing and marketing campaign management. Familiarity with Google Analytics as well as Word Press are also valuable.

While traditional marketing and branding were focused on advertising and selling. Almost all marketing efforts now a days are focused on the internet.

8. Network Security Specialist

Again, this is a highly skilled position that requires specialized training. But the amount of data that all companies store is significant, and if that data is leaked or stolen, it can costs them millions of dollars in both lost revenue and lawsuits.

So, if you have an interest in network security you will find the field both lucrative and stable.

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9. Communication Skills

At first glance, communication skills may not look like it fits into the category of “Hard Skills” that can help you succeed. But in this ever shrinking world where companies can do business from almost anywhere, communication is more and more important.

Are you bilingual? It really doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s a company out there looking for someone who speaks that language.

10. Computer Programming

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that computers are going to be around for a while! As both the hardware and software get more advanced, the need for computer programming is only going to increase.

11. Graphic Design

As of 2018, there were 4.37 million new websites launched.[2] A good number of them will fail because they just aren’t interesting enough visually. The use of templates and replicated websites is only making the problem worse.

Part of the way Google ranks sites is through originality, this almost ensures that replicated sites will never get ranked through Google. So the more original your site is, the more likely people will visit and actually spend time there.

That is what a good graphic designer does. Takes your basic idea and turns it into a website that people actually want to visit.

Embrace the Anxiety That Comes with Change

You know it’s going to be there, you know that you’ll want to give up as you’re learning these new skills but, you’ll also know that the end result is worth the journey.

Here’s a little trick when you’re feeling overwhelmed:

Have you ever met an ex-smoker who was sorry they quit? An ex-drinker or drug user that said life was much better before they quit? These people have gone through some of the most difficult challenges humans can go through including weeks, if not, months of intense physical withdrawal symptoms. They did it because they knew that the pain and anxiety they would experience would ultimately get them to a much better life.

Now what was that complaint you had about attending night-school?

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This is the part everyone hates, everyone thinks night-school, adult education and just generally giving up family and/or spare time. While those are certainly possible ways to develop the necessary skills, they aren’t the only way.

You’ll want to check with your human resources department because depending on the company, a certain degree maybe required in order to even be considered for a position. In those cases, night-school, on-line or some other form of adult education maybe your best route.

But as long as a degree isn’t required, then your options are wide open.

Let’s just say that you’re a sales person interested in becoming the sales manager but, the territory you’ve been given will never produce the sales figures that would make you stand out as a good candidate for sales manager. So how about you start your own side business (don’t compete with your company), but let’s say you enjoy golf.

In this day and age, there are plenty of places that will teach you how to sell products on-line and even set you up with your own website. So you start a site selling golf equipment and accessories (don’t worry, you won’t even have to carry inventory or worry about shipping).

Now, when that sales manager spot opens up, you can explain that even though other salespeople had better numbers than you, it had nothing to do with your sales ability, it was more of a consequence of the territory your were given.

And to prove it, you brought in some information about a side business, you started showing that you’re on target for a sales growth rate of 30% this year. And because you had to do all of the marketing for the business, you came up with some marketing strategies that you can bring to the new job (built-in experience).

The Bottom Line

We’ve put together these 11 hard skills as a way to give yourself a “leg up” on the competition. We’ve tried to make this a mixture of both skills that require a great deal of training, and also ones that you can work on and develop by yourself.

We know that not everyone is cut out to be a cloud computing expert, but we also know that working on and having good scheduling skills will make you a much more desirable candidate for the position!

We also don’t want you to discount the idea of a “side hustle“. Especially for people new to the workforce, having a business that you have started and run successfully shows potential employers that you have initiative, scheduling skills and ambition which can put you well ahead of your competition!

As usual, we hope you found this article both enjoyable and informative. If you did, may we ask that you share it with your family and friends through social media. It really does help us and is greatly appreciated!

More Skill to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Kyle Sterk via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Microsoft Azure: Cloud Computing
[2] Netcraft: December 2018 Web Server Survey

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