Interviewing the Interviewer

How do you interview your prospective boss?

Today, we’re going to talk about the interview process. In particular, we’re going to discuss how to dig up information about the job from your prospective boss. You see, I was listening to the Wall Street Journal Report on the radio and Mike Weinstein said that most people who leave their jobs on account of a tumultuous relationship with their bosses don’t actually do any research to find out of their new boss will be any better.

I’m not surprised, though, because most job seekers I work with struggle with timidity during the interview process. Believing their prospective employers have all the power in the hiring process, they avoid asking questions that would illustrate just what kind of job they could be getting into.

If you’re job searching because you’ve got beef with your current boss, make sure you ask questions about management style. Remember that it’s absolutely acceptable to turn questions around. So, if you’re asked a hard question like, “How do you respond to criticism?” answer honestly and then follow up by asking, “How do you deliver criticism?”

Other important questions include:

  • If you are unhappy with my performance, how would you help me improve?
  • If you are happy with my performance, how will you help me continue to grow?
  • What are your biggest management pet peeves?
  • What’s your turnover rate like?
  • Do you keep in contact with past employees?
  • Why did my predecessor leave?

Finally, ask your prospective boss to summarize their management style… and – if you can – verify that with other team members. Ask them the same question and compare answers.

I know, I know. It’s hard to ask these kinds of questions sometimes. But keep your tone conversational, rather than adversarial, and good employers will recognize that you’re doing your level-best to guarantee that you’re both happy should you get the job.

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