By Andrés Muñoz

So you’ve toiled through hundreds of applications, updated your resume over and over again, and have perfected your professional online presence like nobody else in the history of the internet. Finally, you’ve received a few responses, one of which involves an interview with your (potential) new boss! During an interview, there are many things to consider, from the way you look and how you compose yourself, the questions you ask, and how you answer your interviewer. 

These behaviours are vital for employers to learn as much as they can about you, but remember, interviews go both ways. They are the best chance you’ll have to scan and analyse whether this company is a right fit for you, and there are few things that will affect this dynamic as much as your relationship with your boss. 

While it is the company’s objective to appear as an exciting and interesting place to work, there are unfortunately good bosses and bad ones, and it might be harder than you think to scope them out when everyone is so keen on leaving a good first impression. That being said, there are a few red flags you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on if you’re going to spot a bad boss. We’ll also go over a few questions you might want to ask in order to size your interviewer up. 

Stay Away From Negative Needs

No matter where you go, there are a few elements that should concern you, especially in your possibly new workplace. One of these is negativity. You’ve started talking to your interviewer, have spoken about yourself and how you can help the company reach its goals, and the interviewer holds on to a negative vibe. It is one thing to be honest and upfront about the possible challenges of a particular position, but another one to have a generally negative attitude. 

This is particularly telling during the interview, where the boss is actually supposed to attract the applicant. A continuously negative interviewer drains the energy of everyone around them and strains relationships across the company. 

Good bosses are not just well-connected to the processes they work with, but with the people they work with too. If an interviewer criticises their colleagues, other applicants, their boss, or the company as a whole during a formal interview, you’re better off going elsewhere. 

Vagueness

While the HR specialist may not be able to fully describe the technical specifics of your upcoming position if your potential manager is vague or can’t properly answer your questions about the role or the types of issues you might encounter, be careful. The best bosses I’ve worked with know exactly what they expect from their employees and establish objectives and key results to show how well you’re performing your job and what needs improvement. If they can’t give you these guidelines at the very start, it’s a red flag. 

Mike Winters of Lifehacker indicates that vagueness might be a sign of lack of preparedness on the manager’s behalf or an organisational issue within the company. It could mean that the position might have unexpectedly been thrown into their lap by someone higher up the ladder. What could possibly be worse than working for a lousy boss? Working at a place with an inadequate organisational structure. 

Recognition

I believe that very few of us truly understand the importance of positive reinforcement and the ripples it creates in the workplace. Humans are creatures of habit that thrive on input. Just like constructive criticism is essential to highlight flaws that need to be worked on, positive comments are beneficial for a continued positive work environment. 

Mark Murphy of Forbes magazine recommends that you ask your interviewer for specific examples of their employees’ accomplishments. If your interviewer is having a hard time coming up with a recent example, you might want to consider the company’s approach towards recognition. In a recent study, Mark discovered that 54% of employees never, rarely, or occasionally had the positives of their work recognised by their boss or team leader. Gratitude is a vital source of motivation. You want to work with a boss that keeps you motivated and appreciates when you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty.  

Renata Junkova, the founder of career coaching firm Runway Excellence, told Linkedin: Listen to your gut. There are few indicators as reliable as your instinct. Notice how you felt around your interviewer. Did they project confidence? Could you meet up with this person day in and day out? All these micro signals are vital indicators of what might lie ahead. 

Did we miss any key pointers? Write them down in the comments section below! Good luck on your hunt for a great new boss!