How To Spot A Bad Boss During An Interview

An interview is typically seen as a stepping stone in the process of getting a job.  This is where you will be asked questions about your experience, tested on your knowledge, and allowed to show off your charisma.  While this is a time for you to prove yourself as a worthy candidate, this interview is not just for you, it’s also for your boss.  The interview is your time to figure out if this company is going to be a good fit for you.  Having a bad boss can make work stressful, often leading to you searching for another job sooner, rather than later.  If you take the time to ask questions about the company, the work environment, etc., you can easily weed out the good from the bad.  So how do you go about doing this?

Ask questions.

You can often easily get a feel for the boss and the company culture by asking the right questions.  You want these questions to come off as interest in the company and the day-to-day work experience, and not like an interrogation.  If you ask questions that are too direct, you may sound like you are disinterested in the position.  Direct questions are also more likely to get you false answers.  Instead, ask questions that will help you get a feel for the company culture.  Ask what a typical work day is like.  Ask about opportunities for learning new skills and broadening your knowledge.  How the interviewer answers these questions will provide you with a lot of information.  Is the interviewer engaging and willing to enter a dialogue about your questions?  Or are they brushing your questions off with short, noncommittal answers?

Look at attitude.

How the interviewer approaches the interviewee will tell you a lot about how they approach the work environment.  Is the interviewer focusing on themselves more than the job itself and the company?  This shows the boss will most likely be a bad leader.  He will probably be more focused on his own ideas, and less on the ideas that you want to bring to the table.  If he interrupts you during an interviewer to provide his own feedback or to correct you, this also shows that he would probably be difficult to work with.  If an interviewer is already showing a lack of respect for you during the interview, before you are an employee, chances are the lack of respect will get worse once you are actually within the company.

Professionalism is important.

Look at how seriously the interviewer takes his job, as well as the job you are applying for.  While there is leeway here, depending on what type of work environment you are searching for, there is always a line that can be crossed when it comes to professionalism.  Is the interviewer late responding to emails, phone calls, or showing up to the interview?  This will probably translate over into the work environment, as well.

Meet potential co-workers.

The best way to get an unbiased look at a company is through the people that are already working there.  The interviewer is trying to sell the company to you, making it seem like a great working environment and ideal position.  If you are a seasoned worker, you know that most working environments are not completely ideal.  Talk to potential co-workers who would work under the same boss.  Ask them what it is like working for that boss, what are some challenges they’ve faced, etc.


You should always be doing research about a company before the interviewer, so that you can show interest in the company and the position.  But this is also an opportunity for you to find out information about the company and its employees that aren’t on the company website.  Look up the online profiles of the manager you will be working for, as well as the profiles of people who used to work for him.  This is where you will be able to see if the company has a high-turnover rate—something that should be a big red flag.  This means that company has a hard time keeping employees, pointing to an issue within the company.  You can also reach out to former employees and ask them about their experiences working for the company.

Source: Michelle Hawley (Laddders)

in Interviewing

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