Four Questions to
Ask a Potential Manager
Happiness on the job sometimes comes down to one person: Your
Your manager can matter more than money, title or benefits. People
don't always quit jobs, they sometimes quit bosses. Many workers
leave a position because they're unhappy with their bosses.
On the other hand, if you genuinely like and respect your boss, your
job can be rewarding, fulfilling and even fun. But how can you
ensure that you and your potential boss will get along?
While there are no guarantees, you can often recognize a boss who's
right for you -- if you ask the right questions.
The Ideal Employee
Do you want to know what your potential manager will expect from
Ask her, "What's your ideal employee like?"
If her ideal employee works long hours on a regular basis, expect to
do the same.
If her ideal employee is someone who never questions procedure,
don't plan to arrive and immediately implement new ideas.
If her ideal employee works independently, rest assured that you
won't be micro-managed.
You're likely to be happier on the job if you and your potential
manager have similar working styles. After all, everyone deserves a
manager who thinks that they're the ideal employee.
The Skinny on the Staff
You can tell a lot about your potential manager from his staff.
Ask him, "Can you tell me about the people I'd be working with? How
long have you worked with them?"
Pay attention to how well your potential boss seems to know his
staff. Can he list their individual accomplishments? Is he proud of
Note his tone and energy when he talks about his team. Does he sound
upbeat and positive? Or is there a hint of frustration or
disappointment in his voice?
Also note how long his staff has worked with him. High turnover can
be a red flag, and happy employees are more likely to stay put.
Results and Rewards
Do you want to excel on the job? If so, then you need to know how a
potential manager defines excellence.
Ask her, "How do you measure success on the job?"
You may be accountable to complete projects to deadline and under
budget. Or perhaps you'll need to reach a certain benchmark in your
performance, for example a dollar value in revenue or a percentage
of satisfied customers.
You should also ask about the typical career path for an employee
who successfully meets his goals. After all, you want to work for a
manager who recognizes and rewards excellence.
Sooner or later, a problem will arise. And you need to know how a
potential manager will handle it.
Ask him, "What's your approach to solving problems?"
Knowing how a potential manager solves problems can give you insight
into his management style. Does he prefer to take charge and make a
decision independently? Does he delegate the decision to a staff
member? Or does he favor a more collaborative style of problem
Finally, keep in mind that a potential boss' overall attitude toward
answering questions can be very telling about his management style.
If he's open to questions and answers thoughtfully, he's likely also
open to exploring and improving his working relationships. And
that's one quality that makes for a great manager.