Forget the job, it's all about the boss!





How many times have you heard the old adage “Pick the Boss, Not the Job”? Probably too many times to have it mean much anymore…. but I’m asking you to rethink that, as happiness at work is a huge part of success. Studies show time and again that 40% of new hires who leave a company do so because of a “bad boss”. Let’s talk about what steps you can take during an interview to avoid being one of the 40%!


Virtually every successful businessperson mentions having a ‘mentor’ as making a huge difference in their career.  Ideally, this mentor is the first boss you work for at a new firm; someone who takes a personal interest in your happiness and success, and opens doors to ensure it. As such, it is critically important to explore the potential working relationship with the boss before you start a new job, and I’ll tell you why.


On average, we spent nearly half of our waking hours at work. Ensuring that your work is challenging and fun is one aspect, but these advantages are quickly negated if you have a boss who you do not like or don’t get along with well. Your boss controls your assignments, working hours and to some extent even which days you can take off work.


If half of our life is spent working, what can make going to work every day a joy?  It is the people with whom we interact each day; colleagues, co-workers and most importantly the boss.  Do not pick a job, or even a company unless the boss is right. Think about it, would you pick a spouse just because you want to live in their apartment building – I’d guess not!


In the case of your career, it can be difficult during the course of a few interviews to identify whether the boss is someone who you will enjoy working with, or if they are simply “putting on a positive face” to encourage you to join the firm. 


Be sure to go into the interview with your own set of questions to ensure that the work environment and the relationship-management style of your potential boss are a good fit with what you are looking for. That said, here is a quick “how to” guide to interview questions you can ask of your potential employer to help pick the right boss and ensure long-term success in your next position.


  • Allow yourself to be interviewed by co-workers as part of the hiring process, or seek them out before committing to a new position. Insights from others who already work at the company are invaluable. A firm which tries to keep interview candidates away from others in the workplace may be trying to hide something.
  • The manager’s communication style during the interview process is an indicator of how well (or poorly) they interact with staff. During the interview, do you feel a valued part of the conversation, or are you being ‘lectured to’ about how great the company is?
  • As you speak, find out as much as you can about the manager’s background. Ask them about the path they took to get into management, and who made a difference in their success.  Ideally they will mention those around them as having been an important part, and not only focus on their own personal accomplishments.
  • Does the manager have long-term objectives for their department and/or company? While they explain these to you, listen for clues as to how important the team will be in reaching these objectives. If all you hear is “me, mine and I”… probe more deeply.
  • Ask them to describe the company’s work ethic and office style. Are employees given time to pursue new projects, and educational opportunities? Do employees have flexible working schedules, or is working to specific deadlines the most important aspect of the job?
  • Companies want to grow and profit. To this end, their employees must personally grow and profit at the same time.  Does the company have a proposed career path for the job, or is it a dead-end? Ask about others who have started with the company in similar positions, and where they are now? Be sure to determine of the examples being given actually worked for the boss you are considering!
  • Question the manager about examples of prior projects where the assistant was a key contributor, and how they were publicly recognized for their contributions?


It is not easy to find an ideal boss, but following a few simple steps during the interview process can help avoid career missteps and lead to a high level of job satisfaction!


Inspires employees by sharing success

Delegates responsibilities, not just tasks

Encourages input and new ideas

Always ensures that communication open, honest and clear

Leaning and growth are a part of the job




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