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Interview Tips: How to Spot a Bad Boss

Hopefully you will meet your future boss during at least one of your job interviews for a position. Although the encounter might be nerve-wracking as an interviewee, it is extremely important as a job seeker. Your best chance to avoid a sitcom-esque situation with a bad boss is during the job interview! Here are some interview tips for recognizing a bad boss during your job interview (and keep your red stapler).

Listen to when they use “I” and when they use “you.” This might seem like one of those nit-picky interview tips, but it makes sense if you think about it. According to John Brubaker, via Forbes, it’s important to pay attention to your boss’s pronoun usage. If he/she uses “I” frequently in talking about the company’s successes. For example, if they say, “I led the team to a record sales year,” it may be a sign that your boss won’t give credit where it’s due. On the other hand, using the word “you” in talking about challenges such as, “You will encounter difficulties with accounting,” could indicate an unwillingness to help you solve problems.

Make sure your future boss is giving you his/her full attention during the job interview as well. If they can’t manage to pay attention to you during the job interview, there’s a good chance you won’t get their full attention when you need help at work.

Are you getting direct answers to your questions? A good boss will answer your interview questions fully and honestly, and should offer you plenty of options for more questions during the interview. Dodging questions during the job interview indicates ignorance, or an attempt to cover up something unpleasant about the workplace. Neither one is a good thing! Also, watch out for contradictions as your interviewer answers questions.

Pay attention to any illegal interview questions. Managers legally cannot ask about your marital status or whether or not you have children during a job interview. So, if your potential boss is fishing for information about your personal life, they may be trying to weed you out based on other commitments in your life. This is shady, inappropriate, and indicative of a bad boss.

Really Bad Boss has some great interview tips, too. Watch out for the phrase, “Family is important, but…” It is important to have a boss who appreciates a work-life balance. Or, at the very least, pretends to appreciate it.

Finally, beware of bosses who make inappropriate jokes or comments during the job interview. Even if the comments are not directed at you— you’re a guy and he makes a joke about women— steer clear. Such a boss clearly has no respect for decorum, or for their employees.

How would you spot a bad boss during a job interview? Leave some interview tips below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb #badboss

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by TedsBlog

Kristin Anderson

Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.