Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant

How to manage childish boss behavior and thrive in your job

Watch for These Bad Boss Signs in Your Job Interviews

How to Mitigate Landing in Bad Boss Territory

While it may be time for you to look for a better job, make sure you aren’t jumping from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. The style of questioning during your interview can help you spot bad boss territory. Consider asking yourself some of these questions and looking at these issues as you conduct your job search.

1. Consider red flags from your prior positions.

Were you put on the spot, and are you seeing that again in this interview? Did a previous interviewer seem anxious, ask you very few questions and practically hand you the job? Perhaps when you accepted your prior position, you were relieved to get the work. But in looking back, you realize that there were red flags, e.g.,the workplace environment was stressful, there was no mentoring, a lot of turnover and many employees were stagnating. Remember what you liked about your prior jobs, too, for greater compatibility this time.

2. Check the boss’s and company’s references.

The company wants stellar references from you. And you should look for the same from them. Check LinkedIn and social media for news and comments on the company and boss’s leadership abilities. Decide what you want from your work environment and weigh those criteria against the position, such as: team approach, flextime, proximity to home, family-friendly, volunteerism, green policy, and so on.

3. Take a look at professionalism and integrity.

Does the interviewer inquire too deeply about outside work activities? Although the interviewer may mention they have a company-related volunteer group, if the questions go too far, then the interviewer may be fishing for how much time you can devote to overtime, weekend projects, and so forth. Be direct and know that you can help steer the interview where you want it to go. Beware of discriminatory questions, for example.

4. Gauge how well the interviewer listens and communicates.

Distracted? Disinterested? Completely answers your questions? Does the hiring manager ask you about your long-term career path, or seem very short-term oriented? He may be on his best behavior, so take note. Interviews are a two-way street, and this is your opportunity to get a good glimpse of your boss's personality and the work culture.

5. Ask questions about management style.

Decide ahead of time what you want and don’t want in a boss. Is mentoring a plus? Is a hands-off and more independent policy better for you? Is the boss overly talkative? Virtually silent? Available or frequently away? To whom do you report? Try to meet the future team (if that’s not an option, it could be a red flag). You want to detect signs of a “Terrible Office Tyrant" (TOT).

6. Check in with the team.

Hopefully you'll be able to chat with your prospective team members. You’ll need to put them at ease for them to be candid...and you may come across differing opinions. Former employees (found through LinkedIn or other networking sites) may be more honest or direct. Keep in mind that no job is perfect, so stay optimistic.

Before you get into yet another work situation that doesn’t fit the bill, write down all your wish list priorities. Be prepared to ask for what you want. Remember, you aren’t just looking for work, you’re looking for a life that works.

Lynn Taylor is a workplace expert specializing in boss and employee dynamics; she is the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant

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