Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Interviewing the boss

with 4 comments

Even It Up! is concerned that job interviews are generally a one-way conversation, with the workplace tending to control the process. Candidates have little, if any, opportunity to find out what the workplace they are seeking to work in is really like. Sure, candidates can download an annual report from the internet, or visit the workplace before the interview, but none of these will give any real indication about the workplace culture.   Generally, jobseekers don’t really find out about what a place is like until they work there.  The interview process is, however, usually quite telling.

At Even It Up! we think it’s time to shift the balance and urge candidates to interview their bosses, and check their references and credentials before accepting a position. It may save heartache for everyone concerned, and save time, money and effort in the long term.

But how do you go about interviewing the boss? Clearly, you ask for the interview either in your own interview, or when the position is offered to you. If the boss is not keen, consider that they have something to hide. If they don’t want to set up another interview time, clearly they are not flexible, or forward-thinking in their approach. Would you really want to work for that sort of workplace anyway?

When the boss has agreed to the interview, come prepared with questions covering the areas you would like more information about. For example, you may be interested in:

  •  how the boss deals with conflict; 
  • what workforce planning takes place and how often; 
  • what the expectations are regarding hours worked; 
  • whether the boss is a people person; 
  • how flexible the workplace really is; 
  • how organised the workplace is; 
  • how often strategic planning occurs and who is involved; 
  • what management and leadership development programs are in place;
  • how initiative is rewarded; 
  • how team work is supported; 
  • what your operational budget 
  • whether communication follows an open or closed model.

Ask for references and actually check them. Find out whether the referee enjoys working the in business, and if they have left, if they would work for the boss again. It’s crucial to also find out why they left.

It may be confronting for the boss because of the perceived shift in power, but with more and more people unhappy with the management in Australian enterprises, it may just be the shake up our business leaders need.

Written by evenitup

December 30, 2008 at 11:30 am

4 Responses

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  1. I really really really love these! If I ever actually attend an interview again I will be asking all of this! Your manager is such an important figure in your work happiness. The only problem I can forsee with this is that this “boss” leaves the business and you get stuck with a new one (who doesn’t meet your criteria.)


    January 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    • Believe it or not, these were written a year or so ago! If anyone uses them in an interview, Even It Up! would love to hear how these sorts of questions were received. Many people, once they find a great boss, often follow them. From the research (read AIM/Monash Uni’s report on the state of leadership in Australia) great bosses are so rare that most people would walk over broken glass to stay with one!


      January 5, 2009 at 4:31 pm

  2. These are great ideas. My son’s been looking for a job, and I’ve told him before he should interview the boss. I’ll pass this site on to him. Thanks!


    January 3, 2009 at 3:55 am

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