7 Signs You're Interviewing with a Bad Boss


women in an interview


Gina Belli via PayScale
Gina Belli via PayScale
April 13, 2024 at 5:8PM UTC

Difficult bosses make everything about work more challenging. Some hover and don’t feel comfortable relinquishing any control. Others are negative, have a temper, or are prone to outbursts.

There are all kinds of bad bosses out there. If you can learn how to spot them during the interview process, you just might save yourself a world of trouble. Here are a few signs to watch out for:
1. They talk about themselves a lot
There’s nothing quite like a boss who needs to have their ego continuously stroked. If a boss seems more interested in talking about themselves than they are in asking about you, it could be a red flag, according to Sarah Dowzell, COO of Natural HR.
“The best example of the inflated ego I’ve come across was a candidate being told by the hiring manager that he’d looked at his LinkedIn profile, and then he asked why this wasn’t reciprocated,” Dowzell told Fast Company. “This person does not only have an inflated ego, but they’re also needy. Who wants to work for a needy boss?”
2. They don't listen to you
Good listeners make better employees, and they make better bosses, too. If the person you’re interviewing with gets distracted and stops paying attention to what you’re saying, it could be a bad sign. (It also could indicate that you’re going on and on, so be careful.)
Pay attention to how much attention you’re paid during your interview. If your potential boss loses focus, it could be a sign that they don’t value their employees’ opinions very much.
3. They don't trust their employees
Gregg Stocker, author of Avoiding the Corporate Death Spiral, advises interviewees to ask about a company’s problems, and their causes, during an interview. At Monster, he says that if your potential future boss responds by blaming others, it could be a red flag. It’s not easy to work for a boss who’s always looking over your shoulder. Bosses who don’t trust their employees tend to do that.
4. They're inconsistent or contradict themselves
Have you ever worked for someone who tells you to do one thing one day and then changes their mind and has you do it entirely differently the next day? It can be really frustrating, not to mention demoralizing and just plain exhausting. If your potential new boss has tendencies toward these behaviors, you might see evidence of them during the interview. Take note if they’re changing their mind or contradicting themselves during your talk.
5. They don't seem to really get it
Some bosses understand the business better than others. Working for someone who’s out of the loop is never easy.
Things tend to run more smoothly when the person at the helm knows how to plot a course. So, pay attention to your potential new boss’s understanding of the business during your interview. Don’t just assume they’re an expert because they’re the boss.
You want a manager who’s flexible, yes. But, you don’t want one who’s in over their head and just trying to keep up with everything that’s going on.
6. You pick up on some negative emotions
If you’ve ever worked for one who’s unpredictable emotionally, you know how challenging it can be. So, be on the lookout for signs of anger, frustration, fear, or other negative emotional displays during your interview. If the new boss is willing to show you that side of their behavior already, you could be in for a lot worse further down the road.
7. You feel terrible around them
Leaders empower those around them, but bad bosses tend to do just the opposite. They might demand too much of your time while never showing appreciation. Or maybe they shoot down all of your ideas just to feel a little better about themselves and their abilities.
In short, good bosses make you feel good and bad bosses make you feel bad. So, pay attention to how this boss makes you feel during your interview. First impressions can be misleading, but you might also have a knowing sense about this person deep down.
Listen to your instincts. If you walk away from the interview feeling emotionally or mentally drained, or just kind of icky, it’s a bad sign.

This article originally appeared on PayScale.

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