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Interviewing: A Two-Way Street

We’ve all had great bosses, and we’ve all had horrible bosses.  GenX'ers and older, remember the scene in 9 to 5 where Lily Tomlin’s character dreams of killing her boss?

It is SO important to play an active part in the interview process.  Did you know the #1 reason people leave their jobs is because of their relationship with their manager?

As is often said, people leave bosses, not companies.  

So when you’re out there interviewing, remember that it’s a two way street.  You don’t have to invite them to your home for dinner, but you’d better be comfortable working for and with him/her!  You’re going to spend a whole lot of time with this person, directly or indirectly, and they’re going to have a whole lot of influence over what happens in your daily life, whether it’s good or bad.

Ask yourself some key questions:

  • Is this someone I can learn from AND partner with?   Think about how strong the working relationship will be.  Is there trust in what you bring to the table and vice versa, or is there paranoia about allowing outside expertise into the discussion?  Will this person be a mentor or coach, or just sign your timesheet?

  • How do they feel about giving praise and recognition?   AKA: are you going to get acknowledged for your efforts? The need for basic recognition for our work goes hand in hand with why people leave.  Will you feel optional in your job, or an important part of the team – no matter how seemingly ‘small’ the role?

  • What do others say about this person?   Have you checked their LinkedIn profile for recommendations?  Check Glassdoor as well – sometimes there is valuable information about the company culture, interview process, etc. * Note: Look at Glassdoor like a bell curve. Remove the best and the worst review and see how the averages look. Were they all done at once (sign that management has directed employees to write these)? Are they all written by managers? Is there a theme in the negatives?

It’s easy to go out and have a beer with just about anyone.  Go beyond that.  Liken it to marriage versus dating – as I tell my managers when they’re on the fence about a candidate – “if it ain’t love, don’t marry ’em”.  Same goes in the interview process.  (Remember when I spoke of intuition?  Bingo.)  Just because they’re funny or quirky or you went to school with them doesn’t mean they’re the right boss for you.  The job doesn’t have to be perfect, but, like a relationship, it should be a good match for both parties.

Write down what you liked and disliked most about bosses in your past.  Were they hands-on or hands-off?  Did you like the level of independence you had to make decisions?  Were certain people or positions deemed to have more credibility or influence than others? Did you have the flexibility you needed?  Could you grow in your role?  Were you allowed to fail, and then learn?  How much cynicism was there – and was this OK to you?  Did they act ethically?  If you had to do it all over again – would you?

Be honest about what you need when you are talking to prospective bosses.  Interview them (you know when they say “so, what questions do you have for us?” – this is your big clue…).  Know what’s most important for you now, in six months, in a year.  How does this job, this boss, get you to where YOU are going?

Think about it.  It's half of your waking week, ya know...


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