How to Interview Your Next Boss

February 20, 2014



Looking at taking another job? You’ve probably polished your resume, researched the company (if it’s not the company you work for now), and prepared yourself for the questions that you may be asked at the interview. But have you prepared to interview your prospective boss?

Research has shown most people who leave their jobs, don't leave the organization; they leave the person whom they directly report to. Isn’t this person the biggest indicator of how successful you will be in your new work? Before you accept that new job, we suggest that you find out as much as you can about the person that can make or break your work life. We’re not suggesting you interrogate or aggressively question him or her, but a tactful conversation is in order.

Before the interview, find out as much about the person as you can online and from social media. Check out everything posted online from them and about them by others. If this job would keep you in your current company, you can certainly ask peers, colleagues, and those they supervise for their opinions. You may want to ask whether you can talk to the last person that held the position or the person currently in it.

Think about what is important to you in a boss and the work environment as you develop your questions. Some examples would be:

  • What type of person do you work best with?
  • What is your least favorite type of person to work with?
  • What words would you use to describe your management style?
  • Has there ever been a time when you were let down by your staff?
  • What attributes are most important to you in this position?
  • How do you typically handle mistakes or errors by your staff?
  • What is the best attribute that you can imagine your staff would say about you? What is the worst?
  • How is this department perceived within the organization?
  • What are the avenues for growth and professional development?
  • What is the top priority of the person who accepts this job?
  • What are the day-to-day expectations and responsibilities of this job?
  • How would you characterize the management philosophy of this organization? Of your department?

During the discussion, observe body language. You’ll want to look for signs that show whether the person is open or closed. Can he or she laugh at himself/herself? Are they able to admit mistakes or flaws? Do they exhibit empathy and values that you can support?

Your objective is to find the best fit and the best opportunity to advance your career. Each year, Great Place to Work documents survey data from 257 Fortune companies and lists the 100 best companies to work for. China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work says, “One of the most staggering statistics we found is that the 100 best companies offer nearly double the hours of on-the-job training to full-time, salaried employees as companies not on the list.” Mentoring programs, training, job rotations, global assignments, and peer support groups are just some of the ways companies design ways to help employees advance their careers.



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