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How to find a boss you want to work for

Remember that an interview is a two-way street. Here's how to firgure out if you actually want to work with your potential boss.

How to find a boss you want to work for

How to figure out if you and your boss will work well together.

There’s a commonly heard saying that “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.” And there’s data to back that up, according to Gallup’s Chief Scientist of Workplace Management and Well-Being James K. Harter, Ph.D., at least 75% of the reason people quit is influenced by their manager. So before you say “yes” to that offer that sounds perfect on paper, you have to think critically about whether you’re likely to have a good working relationship with your direct manager.

“Finding a boss you respect and who will respect you is critical for your career success. Otherwise, it can—and often will—lead to uncomfortable situations and toxic environments. Ultimately it just won't work,” says Lori Scherwin, founder of the New York City–based career coaching firm Strategize That. “You want someone who will actively develop you and cares about your career, not just what you will do for them.” When it comes time for evaluations and promotions, your boss’s input matters the most so you want someone who will advocate for you, give concrete feedback, and help you reach your goals.

Unless you're a psychic (which would be really cool!) or have an accurate crystal ball, it can be hard to predict whether it will be a good fit. Monster spoke to career advice experts to find out strategies you should use to decide if you should say “yes” or “thank you, next.”

Check their references

Your potential boss is going to call your references to find out what it’s like to work with you. Check your potential boss’s references too. Find people on LinkedIn who used to work with your potential boss but no longer work at the company and ask to connect to talk about their experience, says Dan Clay, a San Francisco–based career strategist and founder of the career advice blog, Conscious Career.

“The problem with approaching people who work at the manager’s company is that they’ll still be forced to tow the company line, so there’s a good chance you might not get the whole truth. When you reach out to people who have no strings attached, you’ll be far more likely to uncover any skeletons in the closet that someone who works for the company would be unlikely to tell you,” says Clay.

Also use company review sites like kununu to get a feel for the company and the hiring process. Employees (and former employees) leave feedback on a range of categories from company culture and management style to career development and gender equality. Just remember that the people most likely to write reviews are either people who absolutely love the company or absolutely hate it. People rarely write a “meh” review so make sure you also factor in your opinions throughout the hiring process.

Ask your own interview questions

A job interview is a two-way street. Your interviewer isn’t just evaluating you. You're evaluating your manager, the company, and the role itself to learn if it’s how you want to spend most of your weekday hours.

“Gaining greater clarity about your potential leader's priorities and preferences will allow you to make an informed decision about whether a new opportunity is right for you. Your goal should be a job that is right for you, not just one you can do,” says Katrina McGhee, founder CEO of the New York City–based women’s empowerment company Loving on Me and author of “Be Bold Be Brilliant Be You: Lessons from the C-Suite to Accelerate Your Career.”

She suggests asking your potential boss questions like: “‘What are your personal core values? How do you foster collaboration among team members? How do you actively support your team member’s success?”’ Similarly, Scherwin recommends asking about their preferred work style. “If you can connect early and figure out the best way to work together, you're likely to eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress,” she says.

Do a social media search

You can learn a lot about someone from their social media posts. (Just make sure you don’t ask personal questions that totally give away the fact that you social media stalked them, like asking how his recent trip to Hawaii was, how he celebrated his 30th birthday, or mentioning that you also love the original Doctor Who).

“A good place to look to better understand the psychology and beliefs of your would-be manager are Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as personal blogs and publishing platforms like Medium,” says Clay. “Seeing how he positions himself to the outside world can provide you with a glimpse of what it’d be like to work for him, which can help you decide whether or not it’s a good potential fit.”

Don’t be afraid to keep swiping

If your due diligence and your gut instinct tells you it’s not a match, remember that there are other bosses in the sea. Join Monster for free and receive weekly emails with advice on career development, management skills, and business trends. As a member, you can also upload up to five versions of your resume so that all your great experience will get noticed by recruiters, who check Monster every day for candidates like you.


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