How to Spot a Bad Boss During an Interview


In Harvard Business Review article Sara Stibitz, she outlines how to spot a terrible boss during the interview process. The process is a fairly well known list of items to watch for during an interview, but it doesn’t hurt to remind you of those items you should be aware of during this important process.

You should know what kind of person you respond well to, and make sure your new boss meets those requirements. You might not have a choice when looking for that new job, but if you do have a choice you should also interview that new boss to make sure he or she is someone you have spend a lot of time with.

You should also trust your instincts to make sure if it feels wrong, abort the process and look elsewhere for an open position. The interview process is a lot like dating in that everyone is on their best behavior during the process. People dress up and at least act like they care about you and the company. If you can’t stand them or if they appear to have habits that seem annoying or unprofessional,it probably won’t get better after the job starts.

Ask a few well crafted questions to determine who the day-to-day assignments are handled and the overall management style will fit with our work style and personality. If you like a little extra flexibility in how to complete tasks and the description from your prospective manager indicates they like to exert a lot of strict controls, you might not be a good fit for this position.

Always do your research before you appear for your scheduled interview. Check for specific comments about the company or department, and also see what you can find out about the prospective manager. Most people start with LinkedIn and Facebook, then go to sites like Glassdoor to get the details on complaints or former employee reviews. If you have doubts about someone or a company, it doesn’t hurt to start asking questions to anyone who might have some answers.

Principles to Remember


  • Pay attention to how the manager treats you throughout the interview process
  • Research the manager, and if possible find former employees to ask for their perspective
  • Request to spend a half-day at the organization so you can interact with your potential colleagues and boss


  • Ignore your gut instincts about the manager as you go through the interview process
  • Ask direct questions about leadership style — you’re unlikely to get an honest answer, and they might signal that you don’t want the job
  • Neglect to look up your potential boss’s social media profiles

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