workplace psychology

You Can Spot a Terrible Boss in Your Interview for the Job

Young Man Interviewing
Photo: Michael Prince/Corbis

A reminder for the discriminating job seeker: If the interview with your prospective manager is boring, the job itself will probably be boring, too. At Harvard Business Review this week, writer Sara Stibitz outlines how to spot a terrible boss during the interview process, and tells the story of software developer Joe Franzen to demonstrate what not to do. 

Franzen sensed from the way the boss read from prewritten questions in their one-on-one interview that the position at the health-care company would not exactly be a creatively fulfilling one. “Software development is anything but standard,” he told HBR. “When your potential manager reads from a list of standardized questions, it sends a signal the work will be treated the same way.” He took the job anyway, was bored to tears by the unchallenging “cubicle work,” and eventually quit.

It’s an example of the importance of trusting yourself in the job-interview process. “Be on the lookout for clues in the way you’re treated by your potential manager,” Stibitz writes, advising people to “observe how you’re handled as a candidate, from the quality of the information the manager gives you to the way he looks after you when you arrive for the interview.” First impressions often tell you everything you need to know.

Spotting a Bad Boss From the Interview