While knowing how to answer the three interview questions you get from a hiring manager is important, there is another task for you to perform: interviewing your potential manager.
Knowing that you can effectively interact with your manager is critical to your job performance and engagement in the job. As the Employment Times notes:
Nearly 75 percent of employees who leave their jobs do so because of communication issues with their boss – not money.
The number one factor that drives employees to be engaged in their job is their relationship with their boss.
What are the questions to ask your potential manager? Why, the same questions the hiring manager is asking you!
Management wears many hats. One is helping remove roadblocks from the manager’s employees. Without a manager removing roadblocks associated with your projects, you won’t perform at a level that helps you get the highest performance rating possible. Asking questions about where his or her team was blocked by other departments and how the manager resolved them will help reveal the answers.
Another fertile area of questions is the manager’s ability to measure your performance. And I would ask specifically: how do you measure your employee’s job performance? If the answer is similar to “we have goals and measure the performance against the goal” – a reasonable answer – then ask for a specific goal a potential team member of yours has and how they measure the performance to the goal. Most answers here will fail. Not that the failure means you should walk away from the job, but you need clarity on measuring your performance for your review. If you have a great measurement – “we use this report and look at the relationship between X and Y for the performance” – your potential manager gets it. If not, buyers beware.
This question reveals your manager’s motivation for doing the work. Is the position your manager is in just a stepping-stone to positions higher up in the food chain? Or is this position where this person has expertise and can apply the most leverage to the work? Developing open-ended questions about your manager’s motivation for the work will tell you if you have an engaged person managing you. Without the engagement, you will never get the best performance review possible.
This question goes to your fit with the manager. It points to the management style used in managing people. “How do you manage your people” often brings out the management style. Or, “how do you manage someone having difficulty in the position” will reveal what happens when times get tough. If you hate micromanagement and this person micromanages people all the time, you will have issues. If the management style is aloof and the manager expects you to solve all problems, you will have issues if you want more support. The answers to this question will govern your ability to engage in the work.
The problem with these questions is that managers churn with reorganizations. But even if you get a new manager and you keep your position, you should still interview your new manager to get answers to these three questions. It will go a long way to ensuring you understand what the new manager brings to the work, for good or bad.
What questions do you wish you would have asked your manager before joining the team?
Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. In 2005, Scot started sharing these hard lessons at CubeRules.com, a site devoted to Career Advice for knowledge workers, whom he calls Cubicle Warriors.