A bad boss can stymie your professional growth, destroy your self-esteem and send you running for the exit. According to one study, three out of every four employees reported that their boss was the most stressful part of their job, and 65 percent would take a new boss over a pay raise.
Can you spot a bad boss during a job interview? While it’s not an exact science, here are five warning signs that your future boss could be a nightmare.
He’s late to the interview, multi-tasks on his phone while you’re talking, and doesn’t return your calls or emails. “If he’s disrespectful during the interview, he won’t solicit or respect your opinion on critical business matters,” said Pamela Skillings, president of Skillful Communications, LLC, an interview-coaching firm based in New York City.
“He’s the type who will commit to a deadline, budget or specific deliverables without consulting his team,” she added. “Project managers in particular need to consider others’ opinions, act as a go-between and advocate on behalf of their team.”
She refers to her staff as “my people” and uses “I” instead of “we” to describe her team’s contributions. In fact, your entire discussion revolves around her needs and priorities instead of what’s best for stakeholders and the IT department.
Managers who are concerned with their own power tend to be control freaks and credit grabbers, said Paul Glen, Los Angeles-based co-author of The Geek Leaders Handbook.
“A manager who says ‘I, I, I’ during an interview is asserting their status,” he said. “Watch out—because he’ll take credit for your ideas.”
Transmits a Negative Vibe
Are others open and honest in front of your future manager, or do they clam up when he enters the room? If your prospective co-workers sit silently on the sidelines, it means the manager isn’t interested in their input.
“They’ve learned that there’s a safe way to do things around here,” Glen said. “You expect a certain amount of diplomacy in front of the boss, but people should be able to talk without fear of reprisal.”
Oversells the Job and the Company
Naturally, you expect a manager to point out the merits of the company and the position. But if he acts like a used car salesman from the outset and doesn’t seem interested in your goals and preferences, it’s a bad sign.
“If he has to oversell the opportunity, something is wrong,” Glen said. “It means you’re a fungible commodity and he thinks of you as a bucket of skills instead of a human being. That company or IT department probably has very high turnover.”
However, some IT managers may be uncomfortable asking about your preferences or what you need from a manager, noted Patty Azzarello, author, blogger and CEO of Palo Alto-based Azzarello Group, Inc., an executive-coaching firm. So job seekers need to broach the subject when the time is right. “If he seems disengaged or dismissive of your ideas when you bring them up then he won’t appreciate you or your contributions,” she said. “You’ll just be another cog in the wheel.”
Engages in Trash Talk
If she complains about the company and upper management, or blames others for her mistakes, she’ll throw you under the bus, too.
“Managers who constantly complain are impossible to please and tend to be nitpickers,” Skillings said. “They’d rather play the blame game than accept responsibility for their actions and decisions. There’s no way to make them happy.”
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