Managers are like roommates. A good one holds up their end of the agreement and lends an ear when you need it, but most of the time they let you do your thing with minimal interference. A bad one, on the other hand, can make your day-to-day life hell.
The thing is, you don’t always know their deal right away. While some bad managers/roommates air their (proverbial/literal) dirty laundry from the get-go, others hide their craziness behind smiles and polite conversation until one day you discover that all of your carefully labeled food is gone and a “weekend visitor” has been sleeping on your couch for two weeks.
So, how can you tell if your future boss is respectful or rude? A strong leader or a lucky fraud? Someone who washes their dishes, or the type that lets them sit in the sink all weekend? It’s impossible to be certain, but there may be some clues during your interview. Here are four signs that your prospective manager might be a terrible boss.
Their body language is saying, “I’m a jerk.”
You may actually see “bad manager” clues before you hear them. Failure to make eye contact could suggest a lack of confidence or respect for others. Same thing goes for a weak handshake. Alternatively, a handshake like a vice grip could be a sign that they’re overly aggressive or compensating for insecurities, which can make for a tense reporting relationship. Crossed arms and angling away from people can be a sign of general disinterest in others’ thoughts and ideas.
They’re late, unprepared or distracted.
Yes, hiring is just one of a manager’s numerous responsibilities. But, it is still a manager’s responsibility –and an important one! Recruiting, hiring and onboarding an employee requires a considerable amount of time and resources for both the company and the interviewer. Despite everything else on their plate, they should take your interview seriously. If they seem surprised that you’re on their calendar or won’t stop checking their phone while you talk, that means you’re not a priority. And if you’re not a priority in your own interview, you probably won’t be one as their employee.
They can’t articulate the job description.
If you ask a straightforward question about job duties and get an answer like, “We’re not sure yet,” consider it a red flag. While positions shift, grow and evolve over time, your potential manager should have a strong sense of what the position initially entails. Any lack of clarity on this front will affect everything from your training to your performance evaluation. And it could be a sign that your potential boss is non-committal, indecisive or lacking in vision.
Their questions are lame.
You can tell a lot about a person by the type of questions they ask and how they ask them. Open-ended questions give the interviewee a chance to share their thoughts. Follow-up questions show that the interviewer is actually listening. Quirky or humorous questions could be a window into the interviewer’s personality and/or the company’s culture. On the flip side, if it feels like you’re being quizzed, or it seems like the questions are designed to intimidate you, that could also be an indication of the interviewer’s personality and/or company culture. Also a bad sign? When an interviewer just runs through a script of predictable questions (e.g. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?). It shows a lack of effort and creativity on their part. And who wants to work for someone like that?
Jenessa Connor is a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and young adult author. If you don’t find her in front of her computer, check the local movie theaters and restaurants, Prospect Park or the gym at CrossFit 718.