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4 Interview Tricks for Sizing Up Your Prospective Boss

Updated: Apr 30, 2019

two men at a table discussing portfolio

It’s tough to know in an interview if your boss will help you adjust to your new role and thrive in your career. After all, everyone is on their best behavior during an interview. This blog provides four interview tricks to size up your prospective boss without saying a word. Incorporate these and

you’ll have plenty of insights before you say yes to that job offer.

Research Your Potential Boss

If you’ve already researched the company in preparation for your interview, it’s time to do just a little more. While their website might have a lovely description of the company culture, you need to know the real story. What would it be like working for your boss?

The best place to start is LinkedIn. How many connections does he/she have? Are there any endorsements? This feature allows LinkedIn users to vouch for the skills on someone’s profile.

Look for soft skills like communication, leadership, and teamwork. This isn’t a fool-proof way

to assess their skills and popularity, but if they have many endorsements, it shows they have a strong network.

Next, see if they have any recommendations. Do they seem genuine? Try to spot trends in what their colleagues are saying, such as mentoring or being inclusive. Then, see if you have any mutual connections. Reach out to ask for their opinion on your prospective boss.

If you’re applying for a small organization, you might also want to check out Glassdoor. This website collects real employee reviews of workplaces. If the company is not too large, you have a better chance of being able to figure out when employees are talking about your potential boss.

Pay Attention to Your Surroundings

As your potential manager is walking you to the interview location, how are fellow coworkers reacting to him/her? Do they make friendly banter? Are there smiles and hellos? Or do you notice a stiff, obligatory nod? This helps you evaluate the culture, as well as how your boss is perceived.

If you’re meeting in their office, take a good look around. Is it a sterile environment, with no signs that they have a life outside of work? Or do you see family photos and other indications that they lead a balanced life? However, you should also keep in mind that some individuals are simply private and wish to keep work and life separate. However, it’s a helpful piece of information to consider along with other clues.

Be Aware of Body Language and Behavior

This is the most important indicator of your future boss’ personality. What should you look for?

  • Being on time, and if not, a polite explanation and apology

  • Introducing you to any coworkers in a respectful way

  • Paying attention during the interview (not taking calls or checking phone)

  • Being prepared for the interview (knowing details about your resume)

  • Confident eye contact and friendly smiles

  • Answering your questions fully

In many cases, you’ll get an immediate gut reaction based on your interactions. Even if the job seems perfect, don’t overlook your intuition. A bad boss can make a great job miserable.

Read Between the Lines

Your potential boss’ questions can often reveal more than the questions you ask them. Notice the types of questions they ask and what they seem to care about the most.

Is most of the interview about how you would handle the day-to-day tasks of the job? Do they seem focused on the minor details? They might not be open to your creativity or insights. This could also be a red flag that your boss may be a micromanager who doesn’t trust his/her team.

If they ask questions that show an interest in you as an individual, that’s a good sign. Questions like “What do you do to relax?” “Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?” This shows they understand the importance of personality and temperament in creating a team that works well together. They also recognize the value of a well-rounded person who has many interests and motivations.

In your next interview, size up your prospective boss without saying a word.

  • Research them on LinkedIn and Glassdoor

  • Pay attention to their office for clues about their personality

  • Don’t ignore body language and behavior that raises a red flag

  • Focus on the interview themes to understand their priorities

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