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3 ways to spot a bad boss before you take the job

Sharon Florentine | July 16, 2014
Horrible bosses are all too common -- there's even a movie about them. Here, three experts weigh in on how to spot a bad boss before you accept a position and offer tips on how to make sure you're making the right employment choice.

Look to Your Future

Even more important than the immediate impact of starting a new job is the future potential, both for the company and for the employee, says Bryant. Starting as early as the interview process, candidates should focus on how the company will contribute to their professional growth and development and make sure that aligns with their career goals.

"During the interview process, candidates should probe for details on how the company will contribute to their professional growth," says Bryant. "Not just the raw skill sets, but learn what you can expect in terms of continuing education, personal growth, travel. If you're going to pour your passion and devote most of your waking hours to a company what will you get in return?" he says.

"You want to ask, specifically, how your own personal and professional objectives fit in with those of the company, and how that ties into your compensation, too," says Bryant. "If you get a 'deer in the headlights' look in response, that's a red flag and there most likely won't be that much room for personal growth and advancement," he says.

As an example, Azzarello Group's Patty Azzarello describes an interview she had for a position that was described as "strategic." "Everyone I interviewed with was saying they'd be thrilled to have me on board to drive this 'strategic position' and help grow the business in a certain direction," Azzarello says. "But when I talked to the CEO, and I delved into the 'strategic' aspects of the role, he simply nodded and didn't seem to be on the same page. He didn't understand what I was talking about!" she says. Azzarello adds that it's important to make sure your own expectations and objectives fit with those of the company, and that candidates are very clear about what's important to them, both personally and professionally, she says.

"Make sure you're not the only one talking about these objectives, and the interviewing team isn't just 'nodding along' to placate you," she says. "That's a huge red flag, and you're not going to be happy or successful if you're feeding them lines and they're agreeing just to get you into the position," Azzarello says.

Make sure you ask about performance reviews, mentoring programs and other on-the-job training and support relationships, adds Bryant. These are more important to your success and happiness than most candidates realize, and are often overlooked.

Observe and Interact With Your Potential Colleagues

Your powers of observation can be critical when scoping out a potential new job or career path, says Cleverbridge's Johanna Aiken. Plan to arrive at the interview location early, and simply sit and observe, she says.


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