Interviewing is as much an opportunity for you to assess a potential employer as it is for the employer to assess you; so don’t take a backseat and let the interviewer do all the asking. Being prepared with the right questions shows that you know what you’re looking for in your next role and that you have your own set of criteria that needs to be met. The feedback you receive will provide valuable insight into the culture of the organization and, if you ask the right questions, into what it would be like to work for your new boss.
If you have the opportunity to meet with some of your potential peers, it seems only natural that you’d ask about their relationship with the boss.
Here are 3 suggested topics to guide your questioning:
1. What is the boss’s management style?
What you really want to listen for is an indication that the boss is able to manage based on the individual. Great managers know how to play up the strengths of their direct reports, while helping to continually improve upon their weaknesses. Probe for specific examples from the people you interview with and if you’re feeling particularly bold, go ahead and ask the boss directly!
2. How does he/she motivate the team?
Perhaps the most important part of a manager’s job is to motivate the employees that work for him/her and keep morale up when it isn’t at an all-time high. Again, asking for examples of how the boss keeps his/her staff engaged and motivated will give you great insight into the team dynamics.
3. How open is the boss to new ideas and how often does the boss poll the team for feedback?
Feeling like your voice is heard and that you are valued is a huge part of employee satisfaction. If you are looking for a collaborative environment, asking this question is key. You can also inquire about any company initiatives or processes that originated from employee suggestions.
While most of your potential co-workers will be as honest as they can be, you may also have to read between the lines. Pay attention to their body language when they answer your questions and see if they look uncomfortable or struggle to formulate a response. Shifting in their seat, not making eye contact or taking a long pause before speaking may be more telling than the actual answer itself. Of course you should also remember that relationships with bosses are personal and no one’s relationship will look exactly like yours.
Repeat these questions for each person you meet with, if appropriate. You will get different answers from everyone, but the common threads will lead to your collective conclusions.