How to choose the right boss for you.

21 February 2020 Sheryn Small

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We all know how important it is to work for someone we gel with and how your boss can often make or break the job, but how do you ensure that it’s the perfect match? What questions can you ask in the interview process to make sure they’re the right manager for you? It’s actually a bit like dating. You have to dig deep and look at yourself first. What management style brings out the best in you? What are your knowledge gaps or developments areas? What personality traits do you respond well to? Is flexible working a must have?  If you don’t know what you’re looking for in a manager, then you won’t know when you’ve found them.


1. Management style

Think about the kind of management style you respond well to.  For some, up front objectives and KPI’s are enough and they’re happy to be fairly autonomous, while others like more regular check-ins and some mentoring along the way. Ask your future boss how they manage members in their team – ideally, you’ll want someone who adapts their style to the individual. If there is the opportunity to meet other members of the team, don’t be afraid to ask them how the manager leads them and what they are like to work for.


2. Development areas

Most of the time we all have things we want to improve on or develop and new roles and organisations can teach us different things. Make sure you think about what you want to take out of your next role and ensure that your manager is going to be able to provide you with that learning. If you’re looking to hone your CRM skills, make sure your manager has strong credentials in this space. Look at their LinkedIn to see what their previous roles were. Whilst they may be in a more generalist role now, they may have been more specialist in the past and you want to feel confident that they’ll be able to pass on the knowledge you need.


3. Personality traits/ culture fit

The rapport you build in an interview can be a good indication of whether your future manager is going to be a good fit, however, one interview is not always enough to judge this, particularly if it wasn’t a one-on-one interview. Don’t be afraid to suggest a coffee catch up or further interview if you want to get a better sense of who they are. And do some digging!  If there is the opportunity, ask other members of the team what he/she is like to work for. See if there are any recommendations on LinkedIn and have a good read through them – you can often pick up quite a lot from the adjectives people use to describe someone. And see if you have anyone you know in common, that you might be able to get a steer from.


4. Specifics – flexible working

Many companies now offer flexible working, but there are others where’s it’s still discretionary and falls to what someone’s direct manager will allow. If you have responsibility for your children’s pick up from school or daycare on particular days or are hoping to work one day from home due to a long commute, then you need to make sure you check what your future manager will allow. It may be that you need to earn respect and trust that you’ll get the work done before asking for too many concessions, but you need to find out your managers views and the companies’ policies before signing your contract.


Whilst it may feel intimidating to ask questions of your future manager during the interview process, how they react to those questions and the answers they give will say a lot about what they will be like to work for.  Transparency should start at the interview process, it should be encouraged and forms the basis for any “Perfect match”.