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If you’re lucky enough to get to sit down with who could be your future boss during the interview process, you want to be prepared and take advantage of the situation to learn as much as you can about the role, the company, and of course the person who will be supervising you.

Here’s a few interview questions for your potential boss to keep handy just in case you get the opportunity to go one on one with them during your interview.

What has your experience with the company been like so far?
What is your boss like?

Be sure to listen to the subtext in your future boss’s answers to questions like these, and if they are being open and honest with you or covering up flaws.  Is their response immediate? Can  you can read enjoyment or displeasure on their face? Did they hesitate a little too long? Does it sound like there’s more they’re not telling you?

If their experience hasn’t been good or they have trouble with their boss, chances are it could trickle down to you.  But, if they are honest about the challenges within the company, this could be a positive, as they see the value in working through them.  No work environment is perfect.

How do you assign work, reward performance, and grant time off?
What is your personal management style?

Again, honesty is key here.  If your potential supervisor is spouting buzz words left and right and not connecting the dots for you on how they lead, they’re more about impressing you with industry jargon than giving you a clear understanding of working with them.

Watch out because you may be just as confused working under them.  Make sure your future boss is clear about how they manage their team.  Ask additional questions to probe if something wasn’t clear.  This is the person you are going to have to report to every day, make sure you want to be on their team.

How do you like to communicate with your employees?
What are your key expectations from team members?

These questions are similar to asking about management style, but provide more insights to what it’s like to work day to day with your future boss.  If they like to micromanage or if they’re very hands off and tech savvy, make sure you mesh well with how they’re going to be in contact with you  day to day and what their expectations are.

Setting clear expectations up front can be the key to being successful from the start of your new job and set you up for success during your tenure with the company.

What makes a good employee?
What did you learn from your biggest mistake?

Asking open ended questions like these can give you lots of insights into the personal character of the person who could be leading you.  Do they sound like someone you can learn from?  Do their answers show they value the people that work under them and allow them to grow?

Ask yourself what things you are looking for in a boss, and come up with additional open ended questions that may lead to finding out more about the areas that interest you.

What specific skills from the person you hire would make your life easier?
What does it take to succeed in a role like this?

The second question basically states what you’re trying to find  out with these types of questions: what will it take for you to succeed in this role and what your potential boss is looking for in their team members.

Make sure if you want the role that you reinforce how you fit in during the interview, or in a follow-up thank you note.

Could you tell me more about the composition of the current team?
What words would you use to describe the people who report to you?

Listen very carefully to how your future boss describes their team.  Do they know their teams strengths and weaknesses?  Is the team structured in a way that’s efficient and collaborative?  If you don’t like the way the team is described, remember that you could soon be a part of it.

On the upside, if there seems to be a lot of forward momentum in describing the team, it can provide insights into how you can fit in and work with them from day one.

Don’t be afraid to dig a little deeper if you get the chance to sit down with your potential boss.  This is your time to make sure the fit goes both ways. And, be open to it developing into more of a conversation.  Look to see if there’s good chemistry between you and your potential supervisor as it bodes well if you have open communication during the interview process.

But, also remember to stay positive.  Asking too many negative questions or questions that take away focus from the job (like vacation time, benefits, etc.) can lead the person to believe you have a negative focus or are only interested taking time off versus how you can effect change.

What are some of your favorite questions to pose to a potential boss?

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