Reading time: 4 minutes
Being able to spot a shitty boss or a bad employer at an interview before even taking the job, is essential for your career. Various employee personal stories have shown that your satisfaction at any job is significantly influenced by the kind of boss you work for, his reaction to work, his employees and the work environment in general.
This blog post is the most useful job interview resource a lot of employees never found, before taking their current jobs, where the boss is the primary reason for their dissatisfaction.
You see, nobody really wants to be stuck working for a terrible boss. However, when you are more concerned about acing the job interview, chances are that you will fail to notice some toxic boss behaviours from your interviewer.
Although some of these warning signs are subtle to identify at first, you will find them if you look hard enough.
In other words, some of these red flags are expressed in a passive manner, while others are aggressively obvious.
Alex, my friend who is a software developer always has this to say about a negative boss, “it’s better to work at a moderate paying job with a good boss, than at a high paying job with a shitty boss”.
There are various articles on the internet, that reveal the different characteristics of a horrible boss at work. Only a few address how to spot them during the interview, before you even accept working for them.
In this blog post, I have highlighted nine (9) danger signs and characteristics to watch out for during an interview.
These danger signs are redflags that signal you against taking a job with an employer that exhibits them.
How To Spot A Bad Boss At An Interview: 9 Red flags To Look Out For Before Taking Another Job
1) They arrive late for the interview and won’t bother to apologize for making you wait
Let’s say your interview was scheduled for 10:00 am, and being a responsible job seeker, you made sure to arrive the venue at least 15 minutes earlier.
You had expected to be called in by 10:00 am to meet with your employer. However, 30 minutes after the scheduled time, you are told he is yet to arrive for the meeting.
Would this make you uncomfortable? Yes, I guess.
How about, if he finally shows up and proceeds straight on to conduct the interview like nothing had happened?
Will you feel respected? Of course, not!
Only a shitty boss or a bad manager will keep you waiting for longer than your appointment was scheduled, without at least apologizing for not being on time.
If this happens to you at an interview, regard it as a warning sign that your potential employer neither values your time, nor takes responsibility for treating people disrespectfully. What other meaning is there to arrogance.
2) They barely went through your application
Imagine getting to know that your potential employer did not go through your application. You are listening to him talk during the interview, and it is obvious he knows nothing about your specific skills or competencies. He cannot make precise references to any of the career achievements that appear in your resume.
How then did he arrive at a decision to invite you for an interview?
If it becomes clear, that a potential employer has not paid attention to the details in your application, it could be an indication that investing your career in that company is a bad idea.
First, they don’t care about your expertise and skills. This means that they are likely to abuse or underutilize your talents if you take a job there.
Secondly, you can only negotiate reasonable employee benefits with an employer who is already aware of what they stand to gain or lose by employing you or letting you go.
How else will an employer determine your potential value to his company, if he never cared in the first place, to find out what you are worth in skills and experience?
Good instinct tells me that such a boss, will also be largely indifferent to issues concerning staff training and making the right investments in favour of capacity-building.
Working for such a boss, especially if you are a skilled professional, means entrusting your career journey to an undeserving people manager, who is not prepared to bring out the best in you. Why? He simply does not care! On the contrary, a good employer will take the time to go through your resume, just to find out if their company provides the best career option for someone with your experience and ambitions. This is because good managers think more about how to maximize talents, rather than just sap the next employee regardless.
3) They have a record of not keeping employees for long
There are a number of reasons people leave their job or employers for another.
However, if the position you are being interviewed for has been filled by more people than you consider normal for a given period of time, this could be a sign that the problem is not with the people, but with the employer.
A shitty boss either fires his employees too soon or too often for reasons that require a bit more understanding and correction. He is bound to also behave in a way that causes good employees to resign and leave too soon, even if he wants them to stay.
Try finding out how many people have worked in that position, and the average amount of time each of them worked there.
You can do this by interrogating some of the older employees of the company that you meet in the premises.
Advisably, you should ask the employer why the position has remained vacant and for how long. His response may provide useful clues to affirm or dismiss your suspicion. And if he tries to avoid the question altogether, this will equally help you to put pieces together, and make a wise decision.
You don’t want to be his next irrational fire.
4) They are not willing to negotiate essential aspects of employee welfare
Naturally, when a company has clear policies on employee rights and entitlements, they tend to be more responsible towards staff welfare than their counterparts who have no such policies.
Where policies like this exist, be sure to ask for more details. If there are aspects of staff welfare that were not addressed in the policy, highlight them, and proceed to negotiate them.
A bad employer will be unwilling to negotiate key areas of your welfare like time frame for work shifts, employer health insurance contribution, over time allowances etc.
Unfortunately, if you keep silent about these grey areas in the employee welfare policy, it will be harder to negotiate them later on when you have taken the job.
Most terrible bosses will avoid addressing your concerns regarding staff welfare, while others will imply somehow, that what you see is what you get. You need no soothsayer to explain how bad this means for your career.
5) They offer you a lower deal than was specified in the job advertisement
Consider a scenario in which you are engrossed in the interview process, and are making every effort to impress the person seated at the other end of the table – your next boss.
Everything is going good, till he reveals how much he intends to pay as salary, and it is lower than the rate specified in the advert.
Let’s say that the job ad specified a 19 Dollar hourly rate for the position, but the employer mentions in the interview that it is actually 15 Dollars.
You want to be sure there is no mix up somewhere, so, you refer him to the advert. He acknowledges that his offering is a bit different this time, and tries to convince you that the company has not made profits in a long while, that the economy is bad, that he has a lot of business expenses to take care of.
He therefore, requests you to accept this new deal because it is better than no deal.
He probably chips in that sometime in the future, when things get better, he will consider giving you a raise.
If this scenario happened to you, will you feel betrayed?
Will you identify that employer as unethical, irresponsible and insensitive?
Some of the obvious characteristics of shitty bosses include their penchant for promising one thing at first, and failing to deliver on that.
They love situations where they are able to play smart, enforce a compromise, and exploit the other party easily.
Simply put, they would readily employ unethical gambits to rip others off of their worth.
Unfortunately, this is mostly obtainable in privately owned and managed businesses. It is advisable to walk away from that interview and never come back, except you can handle the pains of working for a stingy crook.
6) They try to bring in other work commitments that are not part of the initial job description
Each job position usually has a standard job description attached to it. When during an interview, the employer begins to throw in other responsibilities outside of the standard job role, this could be a signal that they are gunning to get more use out of you than they are ready to pay for.
Daniel my friend, worked in a bank where he was made to handle both the job of a funds transfer officer and customer service officer. Of course, he learnt a great deal from handling both roles, but his initial employment contract was for the job of funds transfer officer.
It is quite acceptable for an employer to demand top performance in your job. This is different from amassing other responsibilities that should otherwise be performed by another hire on you.
After a while, Daniel’s body began to break down due to the stress and excessive work load. The bank would neither review his contract and monthly salary, nor hire somebody else for the entirely different role he was juggling.
After consulting a career advisor, Daniel resigned that job and took another one with a more organized financial services provider in town.
7) They care more about themselves and their business than your career goals
One of the very popular interview questions that a reputable business will ask their potential hire is, “where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?”, or “what are your career goals for the next 5 years?”
An employer who asks you questions like these, is likely to have an ideology for staff growth within the business.
If on the other hand he keeps talking about where he wants the business to be in the next couple of years, how much revenue they hope to hit next year, the scale of expansion they wish to achieve in two years’ time, it could be a sign that they are full of themselves, and care less about your advancement within their establishment.
A good career opportunity should afford you the opportunity to grow. If your potential employer does not demonstrate this during the interview, then consider this as a redflag. Any boss who through their words and actions demonstrate that they think the world revolves around them, is likely to be a toxic manager.
8) Shitty bosses make inappropriate use of words and body language
“So, bitch, tell me why the hell we should hire your ass to work here”
This statement is an instance where one employer used cuss words, while asking a female candidate what would have otherwise been “why do you think of yourself as the best candidate for the job?”
Cuss words has been mostly viewed as inappropriate, hostile, disrespectful, and aggressive, especially for formal communication. However, most individuals can handle a boss who uses cuss words, while others can’t. If you are in the latter category, consider it a red flag when a potential employer uses cuss words in addressing you during an interview.
In other cases, you should watch out for an employer who makes obscene and flirtatious comments, or extends seductive body gestures at you during a job interview, or requests sexual favours of any kind. This is highly unprofessional, and for not reason should any employer go to that extent during a professional interview. Of course, these amount to sexual harassment, and you could press charges. Above all, you can decide to never report to that company, even if you received a congratulatory message that you have been given a job there based on merit.
9) They ask illegal questions
Illegal questions are questions that are considered inappropriate for an employer to ask you during an interview. What is considered an illegal interview question may vary slightly from state to state, or country to country. However, a few general questions in this category are questions about your age, sex, race, religion, political party, colour, and sexuality.
So, if your interviewer begins to ask you illegal questions, it could mean that they have a tendency to make discriminatory decisions against you.
You don’t want to work with an employer who is either racist, or sexist. Neither would you enjoy a good time with a boss who cannot keep his hatred for your religion or choice of Donald Trump as presidential candidate away from your work relationship with him.
Working for a boss with a bad attitude can be frustrating. Meanwhile, it is easy to forgive yourself when you agreed to sign a contract with his firm, without knowing how shitty he will turn out to be. In the event that you are a new job seeker, or you have been searching for another job, make sure to look out for everything a shitty boss is likely to do during an interview. This time, you will be immune to making another bad career decision.