It’s easy to spot a bad boss after you have worked with them for a while, but much harder when you don’t have a history with them.
Some bosses are also quite good at putting their best self forward in an interview with you – real charmers who say all the right things to sell you on them and their office. But there are some things you can watch for in the interview that will help you sort out the good from the bad.
When some people get into an aggressive sales mode they tend to get a little over-the-top in certain traits – usually in the areas they know they are weakest (even in being nice). That is, they pour on the love and charm so much it comes off a little odd or contrived.
It’s easy to get confused by this. You are conflicted because it is, after all, a good thing to be nice and it can be somewhat flattering to have someone fawn over you or be excessively complimentary. When you sense that an employer is being overly nice or friendly (without cause or basis) they are probably overcompensating to hide their nasty nature.
It’s not that you should expect employers to treat you like dirt, but there is very definitely a sweet spot or balance in human interaction that feels normal and that’s what you should look for.
In the discourse of your discussions with them, do they seem to not quite connect with you after you say something?
Good communication has a natural flow to it that allows for a nice exchange between you saying something and them reacting in a certain way that makes you feel heard. Bad listeners are ones who don’t seem to react to what you are saying in a logical way they will either give you blank stare, follow your thought with an awkward pause, or move to a different subject with no acknowledgement of your thought.
Keep in mind, however, this happens to everyone from time to time – we all get distracted with our own thoughts as someone is talking to us. But if it happens in multiple places during your interview, you could be looking at a bad listener and that does make for a bad boss.
Some are even easier to spot – those who are reading and responding to texts as you talk. I had a boss who would interrupt his employees almost daily to take phone calls, even if he didn’t know who the call was from (that makes you feel really important – sarcasm intended here).
Bad bosses are often ultra self-conscious. They lack confidence in themselves and so to compensate for that they will often take credit for successes. Sure, bosses are there to steer and guide the ship and that, to some extent, is part of the success.
What I am talking about is when they take full credit, meaning you get the impression it was they who single-handedly boosted production or increased patient satisfaction by 25%. Dental offices are very much a team environment and so it’s impossible for any one person to create success without the help of co-workers.
So what you want to watch for is some humility. If they are talking about how great the office is, are they talking about themselves (exclusively) or are they talking about the contributions of the entire staff?
This one is similar to the previous one in that the focal point for success in an office lands on one person. But instead of themselves, this example has to do with them giving one particular person (not the team or themselves) major attention as being the office all-star.
It can be true that one employee can really stand out, but if the boss feels as though they need to constantly remind everyone of that (including you, the potential new person) you will find it really hard to measure up – ever. Even when that person leaves, you will always be compared to how great that person was.
This can be especially hard when you are interviewing for the job of an idol your boss worshipped. Again, the comparisons are impossible to measure up to. You are you, not them. You bring your own skills and attributes to that office – you can never be a clone of the previous person, nor should you try.
Everyone has someone that leaves them with a bad taste in their mouth. However, it’s not professional to discuss this with a potential new employee, and maybe not even with anyone at all depending on the circumstances or setting.
If the interviewer boss makes ANY disparaging remark about ANYONE – even if it’s true (which you can’t verify anyway) – it’s a red flag and you should carefully scrutinize whether this is a bad sign or a one-off mistake they made.
Disinterested or Contrived
I’ve personally been in interviews where the boss acts like they would rather be somewhere else or they are regurgitating, almost with out notes, their questions. It’s a little bit disconcerting in that they don’t seem to be present or something.
At any rate, this could be a sign that they are constantly hiring new people. They are well-practiced or well-rehearsed as it were in the interview, almost controlling down to the minute how long it’s going to be. As we all know, if they truly have this thing down it unfortunately means they haven’t created a very satisfactory workplace and are in many instances a bad boss.
Mood of the Staff
How the staff acts around or when referring to the boss can sometimes be a really big tip. As yourself, is the way they are acting (their tone, their body language, their mannerisms) as it pertains to their relationship with the boss relaxed or stiff? And, could you envision yourself acting the same way in previous or future offices? Would that approach work well for you?
Some staff are very relaxed and very casual or even appear to be having fun with the boss. The staff takes it’s cue from the boss, so fi they are acting stiff or even scared, you can be sure you will be expected to act the same way. Whatever the mood is, picture yourself fitting in there and if that’s your style then you know you’ve found a good fit. If not, it’s a bad boss and you should keep looking.
I’ve mentioned in previous posts the importance of paying attention to outdated reception areas and/or equipment within the office. I hesitate to mention it because you can have a great boss to work for who simply doesn’t have things modernized. But I also think part of what makes many bosses great to work for is their attention to the needs of patients – creating a relaxing and stress-free environment.
So I would just say to watch for these kinds of subordinating issues as part of your factors when considering if the boss is good or bad. There are no doubt many things to evaluate and be aware of while you are interviewing – the main thing is that you trust your instincts when things seem a little bit off and don’t be afraid to ask around, check online reviews of patients, and in general pay close attention to the details so that you can land a great dental hygiene job for a great boss.