You’ve heard it before: “People join a company but leave their boss.”
It may be conventional wisdom, but maybe it’s time to buck the convention. With savvy interviewing skills, you can increase your chances of avoiding that
clichéd outcome and find a manager with “staying power.”
Predicting the potential of a relationship after one conversation is no easy feat, unless you’re a speed-dating world champion. To make the most of your
interview, arm yourself with these five questions for your boss-to-be, and see whether you’re really meant to happily share that office kitchenette.
1. How and when do you give feedback to employees?
If she only talks about the annual performance review process, it may be a red flag that the lines of
communication for honest, constructive feedback aren’t open. Let’s face it: We all can get better at what we do. Would you rather start getting better
immediately, or first hear about your “development opportunities” on your hiring anniversary?
As a side benefit, this question shows your ambition and interest in career growth.
2. What are the other team members like?
Sure, it’s nice to know whether you’ll be gaining some happy hour friends in the deal, but listen to the way the manager talks about your prospective
teammates. Is he speaking with pride, respect and maybe even genuine affection? That’s the sign of a boss who likes being a boss, not just someone who
unwittingly found himself managing others because it was the only way to ascend the corporate ladder.
It’s even better if he suggests you meet some of your future peers-be sure to take him up on the offer.
3. What qualities make people on your team successful?
Of course, this gives you a chance to describe how you have all of said qualities in spades, but also use this chance to read between the lines. The first
adjectives you hear are probably things your future manager appreciates most. Do his values sync with yours?
4. How often do you interact with the people who work for you?
The answer may range from multiple hours a day to the occasional one-on-one meeting. There’s no right answer, but there is a right answer for you.
Are you a free-range employee who enjoys autonomy and some distance? Or are you more of an elbow-rubber who values close interaction and frequent
recognition? Be sure the answer you hear can give you the kind of work environment you enjoy.
5. Why did you join this company, and what’s kept you here?
This sounds like you’re just trying to better understand the company, which is worthwhile on its own, but tune in to the subtext, too. You aren’t fishing
for the resume rundown-you can get that from LinkedIn. You want the personal story.
What motivates your boss? Does she sound upbeat? Simply put, does it sound like she likes her job? It’s tough for an unhappy employee to be a great manager, so consider
yourself warned if her answer sounds flat or uninspired.
Finally, ask yourself some questions, too. What could you learn from this person? Were you energized by the conversation? Did it feel like you two
connected? How many times did you laugh? Are you looking forward to talking with this person again?
This is the time to listen to your gut. Of course, you’re not looking for a date or to add a new friend to your Facebook feed, but “work chemistry” with
your boss matters—a lot.
After all, it could mean the difference between staying and going.
Laura Garrett is a certified career coach and partner at
Ondecision, an organization dedicated to helping individuals uncover their personal preferences in the name of more authentic career planning. Stay connected to
her work on
A version of this article first appeared on
Popularity: This record has been viewed 334 times.
Ragan.com moderates comments and reserves the right to remove posts that are abusive or otherwise inappropriate.