How to Find the Best Boss to Work For

Shaking hands in an office
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Working for the right boss (or the wrong one) can make a huge difference in how you feel about your job and the company you're working for. One of the keys to job satisfaction is the quality of the relationship between employees and their supervisors, and one of the most important career decisions that you'll ever make is selecting your next boss.

The boss is the person who's typically making the hiring decision, but you don't have to accept a job offer if you feel the chemistry between you and the person you would be working for doesn't feel right.

Even though you are the one getting hired, you're also interviewing the company and your potential boss.

It's important to make sure that you'll be working for someone with the right skills to enable you to be successful on the job. It's also important to be sure that your personality meshes rather than clashes with your prospective manager's personality.

Tips for Checking Out a Prospective Boss

Candidates are often not thorough enough in the assessment of their prospective supervisor since they are preoccupied with making a strong case for being hired during the interview process. By taking the following steps prior to accepting an offer, you can increase your due diligence and improve the odds that your next boss will be a good one.

Make a Criteria List

In advance of your interviews, reflect on your work history. Identify the type of supervisors under whom you have thrived, and those who have made life difficult for you. Develop a list of specific qualities that you would like to see (and avoid) in your next boss. Review the list before interviews so that you can keep these criteria in mind as you go through the interview process.

Assess How Your Future Boss Measures Up

Most individuals look for a boss who is approachable, provides feedback in a constructive manner, recognizes accomplishments and gives credit to employees, provides direction but doesn't micromanage, is open to input from staff, and supports the career advancement and professional development of their employees.

Keep your eyes and ears open during the interview process for any and all indicators regarding whether your prospective boss can measure up in these areas.

Meet With Employees If Possible

Many prospective employers will provide an opportunity during the interview process to meet with employees who either report to your prospective boss or are familiar with their style.

If opportunities to meet with other staff aren't offered during the interview process, you might ask to meet with other potential colleagues after you receive a job offer. During these lunches or interviews, ask questions that can help you gain some insight regarding how your boss is perceived.

Questions to Ask

You can learn a great deal about your prospective supervisor by asking questions like:

  • How would you describe her management style?
  • What are some of his strong qualities as a leader?
  • What is it like to work for him?
  • How frequently do you meet with her?
  • What opportunities are there for professional development?

Check With Your LinkedIn Connections

Look through your LinkedIn contacts to determine if any of your immediate or second level contacts may have worked in your target organization. If so, you might ask them some discrete questions about your prospective supervisor and his or her style.

This should be done in the spirit of due diligence without revealing any misgivings or concerns you may have about your potential supervisor unless the contact is a well-trusted friend. You don't want anything remotely construed as negative getting back to the person who may become your new manager.

Ask for One More Meeting

You may still have concerns after the interview process. Once a job offer has been tendered, it is appropriate to ask for an additional meeting with your prospective supervisor if you haven't had sufficient opportunity to interact with her during the interview process.

During the meeting, you can inquire about expectations for performance and how it would be measured, frequency of meetings, resources for professional development, your new employer's posture on supporting career advancement over time, and any other concerns which have may have emerged during the process of interviewing for the position.

The Bottom Line

Taking the time to carefully evaluate your new boss prior to accepting a job offer can help you avoid any unpleasant surprises once you are on the job. Remember, you don't have to accept a job offer immediately. You can ask for more time to consider the offer before you accept or decline.