It’s easy to spot a bad boss after you have worked with them for a while. But much harder when you barely met or know them.
Add to that, some bad bosses are quite good at faking it around people when they need to. And some can be really nice most of the time but have a nasty mean streak when put in stressful situations.
There are things you can watch for in job interviews that may help you sort out the good from the bad.
Some bosses tend to get over-the-top or aggressive when they want something to adjust their behavior. They may like and want to hire you or to put their best foot forward. Nice people are naturally nice, they don’t have to force it and you can feel it. But with a bad boss, you can appreciate their “nice-ness” but still sense something is off or unnatural.
It’s easy to mistake. You are conflicted because it is, after all, a good thing to be nice. And everyone wants to feel liked, important, and to be complimented. But there is an innate balance there that you can likely spot. When you sense that an employer being overly nice or friendly (without cause or basis) they could be overcompensating to hide a nasty nature.
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 mutual exchange. You say something, and they react in some predictable fashion that indicates a connection was made. Bad listeners are ones who don’t seem to react to what you are saying in a logical way. They will give you blank stares, insert awkward pauses, or move to different subjects without acknowledging your thought.
Keep in mind, however, this happens to everyone from time to time. We all get distracted in our thoughts, but if it happens in multiple places during your interview, they could be a bad listener.
Some bad-listener bosses are easy to spot. They are the ones who pick up their phone and text while you are talking. I had a boss who would interrupt conversations with employees constantly to take phone calls. Emergencies or urgencies, sure. But outside of that it’s pretty rude and unprofessional.
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. That is to say, when you hear the word “I” throughout the conversation when talking about successes, instead of “we.” So watch for humility. Is there a lot of praise for the staff? Or is the praise centered with the boss?
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 has to do with giving one person an inordinate amount of attention. A type of “teacher’s pet” to use an old refrain from the academic world.
It can be true that one employee really stands out. But if the boss feels they need to spotlight one person as being the all-star of the office, could be a bad boss trait. You and others may find it hard to measure up, especially if that person ever leaves as their legend will grow.
Don’t mistake it as a challenge that you can win them over and be the all-star. You know, the reality is that everyone contributes to the success of business. Employees are worthy of praise, but shouldn’t be constantly singled out (worshipped).
We all have bad experiences with others. Interpersonal relationships are some of the biggest struggles. However, a good boss will not bring those things up. Or if they do to describe a bigger problem, they won’t single people out (generally) to a potential new hire. It’s just not professional so if your interviewer is bad-mouthing anyone, it’s probably a red flag and you can expect more.
Disinterested or Contrived
I’ve personally been in interviews where the boss acts like they would rather be somewhere else. Or they seem to just be going through the motions without really listening. It’s disconcerting in that they don’t seem to be present or care.
At any rate, this could be a sign that they are constantly hiring new people. They are well-practiced or well-rehearsed 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.
Mood of the Staff
How the staff acts when around or referring to the boss can sometimes be a really big tip. Pay close attention to their tone, body language, and mannerisms. Do they seem relaxed or stiff around the boss? It’s not uncommon to want to be attentive or supportive of the boss, but watch for excessive behaviors that don’t seem natural.
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 if they are acting stiff or even scared, you will be expected or compelled to act the same.
Whatever the mood is, picture yourself working there and if that’s your style then you know you’ve found a good fit.
I’ve mentioned in previous articles 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 hasn’t modernized. But I also think part of what makes for a great boss is their attention to what helps create a great environment for patients.
So watch for these kinds of subordinating items as a factor when considering if the boss is good or bad. Overall, trust your instincts. When things seem a little off or weird raise a red flag and do some additional checking. Tally up the red flags so you can make a good decision you won’t regret and find a boss that’s great.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.