Advancing

10 Questions to Ask Your Next Boss

interview question

It’s not the money, or the hours, or the commute. If you don’t like your job, it’s probably because you don’t like your boss.

Ivy Exec surveyed senior professionals in 25 industries and found the biggest cause of unhappiness at work is dissatisfaction with company leadership.

But evaluating a company’s leadership or a potential manager’s style isn’t easy. It is difficult to understand a company from the outside looking in.

Fortunately, there are things you can do during the search process that can help you sidestep bad managers.

Begin by talking to current employees at the companies you’re targeting. Ask them what it is really like to work for the organization and how it treats its employees. Job seekers often skip these kind of informational interviews because they don’t want to take the time. But such meetings—and asking the right questions during them—can save considerable time in the long run because it can help you avoid companies where you might be unhappy after the honeymoon period.

You can find “insiders” by mining LinkedIn for connections who work at your target employers.  Politely request a 15-minute telephone conversation, during which you can ask insiders about their own career progression and how they see their future prospects with the company. Listen carefully: You may have to read between the lines as current employees may hesitate to voice any dissatisfaction.

Track down ex-employees as well. They may speak more candidly. However, you may need to take their statements with a grain of salt, as there may be some bad blood between them and their former employer. It’s important to talk to at least two insiders so you can compare the information you’re given and get a more accurate picture.

During the Interview

If you’ve made it to the interview phase, continue assessing management and refining your sense of how careers progress at the company. As you meet more members of the team, be sure to get their answers to the same questions you ask your potential manager. Glaring inconsistencies are a red flag.

10 Job Interview Questions You Should Ask

  1. Do you typically hire from the outside or promote from within?
  2. How long have you worked here?
  3. How does work get done here?
  4. How does the position I’m interviewing for fit within the organization?
  5. How would you describe your/the management style?
  6. How does the employee performance review process work and do the reviews have a development plan associated with them?  Who is involved in the review process?
  7. Describe your own career progression here. How has it evolved and over what time frame?
  8. Is there a formal talent assessment process?  What leadership competency framework is used to assess talent for promotions and succession?
  9. Is the senior management team homegrown or brought in from the outside?  Why?
  10. How does senior management interact with the rest of the team?

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and iVillage.com, among others.