How to Interview Your New Boss

A one-on-one with a prospective boss is rare, so make it count.

A one-on-one with a prospective boss is rare, so make it count.

When a business needs a new boss, it sometimes gives the employees who will work under that boss, a chance to interview a short list of prospective candidates. If your company does this, take advantage of the opportunity to try to determine who's the best possible fit with your own work style and personality. Ask the appropriate questions, and then provide the appropriate feedback to the person who's doing the actual hiring.

Talk with other coworkers or supervisors involved in the interview process to get their thoughts on the type of work style and personality they want in the new boss. The interview is not only a chance to find the right boss, but to focus your department. Ask your coworkers what type of management style they prefer and their views on a reward and reprimand system for the workplace. Discuss your department's goals as well as individual goals. Make notes during this conversation so that you remember your coworkers' responses during your interview.

Review the candidates' resumes, cover letters and any other application materials if they're made available to you. If they're not, ask the hiring manger for a bit of background information on each candidate, so you can ask intelligent questions about how a prospective boss's background will relate to the new job.

Prepare a list of questions that address some of the points you and your coworkers discussed, as well as any questions you have about a candidate's background. If a group of employees is going to interview a prospective boss in a panel, make a list of questions the group will ask and give a copy to each person on the panel. Ask direct who/what/when/where/why questions that can include information about the candidate's management style, how he handles conflict, how he rewards and reprimands employees, how he's handled difficult employees in the past, and high and low points in his career. During the interview, make notes about the responses.

Read the candidate's body language during the interview to get some nonverbal cues about his comfort level, confidence and ability to handle stress. If the candidate is folding his arms, crossing his legs or fidgeting, it may indicate that he's having a difficult time dealing with this situation. If you work in a high-stress environment, this might indicate that he's not up to the challenge. If, on the other hand, the candidate seems overly relaxed and informal, it might indicate that he's not professional enough for the job.

Maintain a relaxed/involved body language, make eye contact and pay close attention to what the candidate says. Stay engaged; this is your chance to get to know this person and perhaps, start your working relationship off on the right foot. Make note of the rapport you and others have with the candidate, looking for any bias he might have toward a particular gender, race, or style, as this might indicate that he will play favorites -- and might not be the best person for the job.

Tip

  • When you speak with the hiring manager or hiring staff following the interview, share your thoughts in a factual, non-emotional way, so the staff knows you maintained professionalism during the interview process.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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