Traditionally, the view of the job interview is that it is a way for an employer to evaluate the candidates for an open position. This view is traditionally one-sided in its vision, and it is all about what the Hiring Manager needs to get to a decision point. Of course, this narrow mindset has significantly changed, especially over the last decade. Now, it is recognized that an interview is also a critical way for a job seeker to evaluate whether they would like to join this organization in the position being discussed.

There are a number of important factors that go into the decision-making process for a job seeker when determining whether to accept a new position. These factors include compensation, schedule, benefits, the work, commute, co-workers and what is perhaps the most important one…your Manager. We have written it before, and it still stands true, that the primary driver for job satisfaction (and whether you stay in your job) is your Manager. 

So, if your relationship with your Manager is so critical for your satisfaction, then why do so many employees find themselves in a situation where this relationship is strained (or worse). One theory is that there is not enough importance placed on evaluating the Hiring Manager during the interview process. Job seekers are so focused on factors surrounding the position and compensation, that they sadly will often overlook obvious (and some not so obvious) warning signs presented to them.

It all starts, however, with you and understanding what type of Manager you want at this point in your career. Doing this self-evaluation will allow you to better focus on what you want, and also identify the warning signs that you need to evaluate. 

The good news is that evaluating your Manager during the interview involves more common sense and basic observation than anything else. Below are some tips for you to consider doing in order to best evaluate your potential new Manager.

• Overall Demeanor: Of course, the Hiring Manager may just have their interview “game face” on, but generally a Manager who is warm and conversational during the interview will be similar during the workday. On the flip side, be aware of the potential warning signs, such as asking more “confrontational questions”, avoiding any ice breaking dialogue, and appearing disinterested to your questions. Furthermore, if the Hiring Manager asks anything remotely offensive, then steer clear of this opportunity.

• Ask Your Own Behavior-Based Questions: Behavior-based questions work both ways for the Hiring Manager and the candidate. The concept being that how someone has responded in the past, is the best indicator of the future behavior in similar situations. The idea is to get the Hiring Manager to start talking to you in greater detail, so that you get a better sense of their decision-making and style.  For example, potential questions could be “Tell me what methods of communication you use to connect with your team” or “Describe the goal setting process you use with your team each year,” Your internal alarm should go off if you find the Hiring Manager offering answers that do not align with your values or tries to avoid directly responding to the inquires.

• Observe the Tour: Hopefully, you will get a chance to walk though the facility or office with your potential new Manager. If you do, this provides you a terrific opportunity to see how this person interacts with the existing staff. If the greetings are warm and regular, then this can be a positive indicator of the existing relationships. On the flip side, if the Manager is focused only on showing you the building and ignoring everyone around, then this can be a “red flag”.

• Manager is Unprepared: The importance that the Hiring Manager places on your interview is likely to correspond to how critical this person views employee relationships. If the Hiring Manager has rescheduled your appointment multiple times, has clearly not reviewed your resume, or seems antsy to end the discussion early, then warning alarms should be ringing for you. These examples would reflect someone who does not make their staff a priority, and does not commit the time they should to the leadership part of their position. 

• Communicates Negativity: You certainly want your Manager to be open and honest with you, but if your Manager can not be positive in an interview, they are likely a gloomy person overall. For example, if the Manager speaks negatively regarding other Departments, that is probably a sign of internal strife. 

• Lacks an On-Boarding Plan: A Hiring Manager does not have to communicate a detailed specific orientation and on-boarding, but there should be some plan to communicate. A lack of plan is most likely a “red flag” of a larger issue regarding a disregard for on-going career development.

It is pretty obvious that no one desires to work under a bad Manager. The most common move for those who find themselves in this unenviable situation, is to find a new job to get away from the Manager. The key is to take the necessary steps to make sure your potential Manager is what you are seeking in a leader. Generally, the most important aspect of this Manager evaluation is the interview.  So, use the time during an interview to not only show that you are the best candidate for the open position, but also to evaluate whether this is the position (and Manager!) for you.

As always, best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of RochesterJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at:
Joe Stein


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