5 interview questions to ask your potential new boss

5 interview questions to ask your potential new boss

The job market remains boldly competitive. Talent and skills continue to be sought and fought after.

Despite the reported job redundancies, and there have been plenty, Australia’s unemployment rate at 3.5 per cent is still close to full employment.

If you’re interviewing for a new job and everyone is vying for you, decision-making is an excruciating task and, in some cases, a career-make-or-break call.

Don’t be one of the 72 per cent experiencing ‘Shift Shock’, when you start a new job and realise it is very different to what you were led to believe. When we spend a third of our lives at work, our job must be on point.

So, how do you really know? The most critical element is your boss, or potential new boss. They will be your advocate, cheerleader, mentor, adviser, trainer and more.

Holding the privileged position of trust, if you are lucky, they will know how to get the best out of you!

Here are 5 interview questions to ask your potential new boss:

1. What team story has made your day?

This is not a quick answer style question, nor is it ‘a typical’. It aims straight for the heart.

Any interview masks held by your boss are quickly dropped, revealing their true self. This is precisely what you want!

The example given sheds light on their personal values and work priorities. Look for examples demonstrating teamwork, commitment, work quality and an appreciation of individual differences (e.g. a boss centred on the group, not themselves).

This is the feel-good moment we all strive for at work, the intrinsic reward and the one that makes it all worthwhile. Knowing what this might be for your boss provides invaluable insight and a head start for your new job.

2. What’s your leadership and communication style?

Bypass the generic answers. To seek depth, ask for examples of their operating style when the work environment is relaxed and when under pressure.

Dig deeper, asking for their pain points, uncovering what might work for them and how best you can contribute positively.

If you are concerned about working with a particular management style, ask the questions that matter.

A manager that works remotely and leaves you to it with monthly check-ins might have a hands-off approach, providing autonomy and scope but holding accountability high on their scorecard.

Perhaps you are upskilling and reskilling and may require increased support in the initial stages. If so, how will this be provided?

3. What do you like about the workplace culture?

Straight from the horse’s mouth: why do they like working there?

Your boss has insight and views beyond the standard website and hiring manager spiel. They will provide you with the feel of the organisation, team dynamics, benefits, values and what the future holds.

If you are inspired by a specific part of the business, values or social conscience – and this is the draw card for you – ask about it.

Look for recent examples to showcase as a fundamental business element, not the superficial fluff.

4. Will you be there for me?

In essence, you want a boss that supports, promotes, and advocates for you. Ask for an example of recent valuable team member contributions.

See how quickly they answer and the descriptive words they use. Were they proud, enthusiastic and passionate? This is how they will represent you.

In more practical terms, how long have they been with the organisation? A shorter tenure is not a negative, but if they’re a new appointment, do check their engagement levels. If you have bought into your manager, what are their intentions for the future?

5. What are your professional boundaries?

Professional boundaries with your boss are a must. They ensure mutual respect and provide psychological safety. It’s a non-negotiable for sustainable relationships. Asking any of the above questions goes a long way to establishing great boundaries.

If you can’t ask the questions important to you now, how will you go in the future? Without boundaries, you cannot be your authentic self and hold a healthy relationship with your boss.

In many ways, the relationship with our boss is a partnership. It can even surpass workplace culture. And when the connection is there, everyone’s working world is better, including yours!

Skip the beige and oh-so-boring, disclose nothing but dance around the real issue questions. Go straight to the core. Uncover the unfeigned person you will be working with.

After all, employers have been doing this forever. Now it’s your turn!

Roxanne Calder

This article was written by Roxanne Calder.

Roxanne is the author of Employable – 7 Attributes to Assuring Your Working Future and the founder and managing director of EST10, one of Sydney’s most successful administration recruitment agencies.

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