Will Your Boss Be a Jerk? 7 Questions You Must Ask in a Job Interview

Part of the job interview process involves the interviewer attempting to figure out whether you would be a good fit for the organization. However, another (very important) purpose of the interview is for you to decide whether you can see yourself at the company for longer than a couple of months. Don’t wait until you’re actually hired to decide whether you can work well with your boss. Ask the right questions, and find out now whether you’ll want to poke your eyes out after spending time with your supervisor.

Here are seven questions you should ask a potential boss in a job interview.

 1. What is your management style?

Businessman stressed and angry in office

Does your potential boss expect too much? | iStock.com

The answer to this question will let you know what you’re in for. Depending on how the interviewer responds, you’ll be able to see some glimpses of your future boss’ personality and expectations. The answer will tell you whether you’ll be getting a micromanager who won’t let you breathe or a Bossy McBoss Pants who expects you to get him coffee in the morning, pick up his dry cleaning, and babysit his kids during your lunch break. Pay attention to how much emphasis is placed on check-ins and going above and beyond the requirements listed in your job description.

2. What resources will be available to help me do my job?

man working at a desk

Will the boss invest in your success? | iStock.com

How the manager answers this query can show you some things about the state of the company, as well as what he or she values. A boss who is only interested keeping his budget fat won’t be pleasant to work with. This is because a miserly boss won’t provide you with the resources and support you need. If you find you’ll have to pay for your own training, travel, and office supplies, you might want to rethink your job choice.

3. What are your expectations for the first 90 days?

Unhappy worker

Are unreasonable expectations being placed on your role? | iStock.com

If your future boss mentions a crisis the company is experiencing and how he expects you to fix it in three months, be afraid. Unless this is why you’re being hired, alarm bells should be going off. He might be planning to use the new hire as an inexpensive means to address a company crisis that has been ignored for way too long. There might not be enough money in the budget (or he might be too stingy) to hire the appropriate help. You might just the next best thing (in his mind).

Cutting corners usually doesn’t end well when it comes to crisis management. So be leery about accepting a job offer in a situation where you’ll be expected to be the company’s savior.  

4. Why is this position open?

Man working on computer

Are people leaving the company for a reason? | iStock.com

The manager might not be forthcoming with the answer, but it doesn’t hurt ask. If you know someone who works for the company, you might want to do some digging and ask why the employee before you left. Also, see whether you can find out the average turnaround time for employees in that position, as well as other employees who work for the company. You might find out the manager is a horrible boss who can’t keep employees due to his bad behavior.

5. How are employees encouraged to achieve work-life balance?

woman doing yoga

Will this job allow time for you to breathe? | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

The answer to this question will tell you a lot about how much (or little) employees are valued. Your future boss’ reply can offer insight into his or her views on how employees are expected to perform and whether the company is family- and health-friendly.

If you get a sense you would be expected to work nonstop without a vacation and that work comes before your overall well-being, that’s a warning sign your manager would place more importance on getting the job done than keeping you safe. If you do take the job, make sure it has a good health insurance package. You’ll need it.

6. What are examples of situations where you would sever ties with an employee?

man holding box leaving job

Is your job on the line before you even accept it? | iStock.com

Were employees fired for taking too many vacation days or being out sick too often? Did the hiring manager make any negative comments about parents leaving early to attend a child’s basketball game? If you hear negative remarks about parents in the office or employees being overly concerned about their health, this is a red flag. Unless you never need a vacation, don’t get sick, and don’t have any children, this might not be the right job for you.

7. What is a typical day like in the office?

"The Office" actors gather around a computer

Does the office seem like a good environment? | NBC

This is a common interview question, but it can help you decide whether you’ll be a good fit with the boss and company culture. You can also get a sense of this by just being observant and looking around the office. Do employees look stressed? Is anyone smiling? Pay attention to the way people in the office act. If everyone looks miserable, this could be a clue as to how you’ll be feeling after a couple of months on the job.

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