How interviewees can spot a bad boss; managing partner's behavior warned away paralegal

Some supervisors may be able to turn on the charm during an interview with a prospective employee, but there may still be some clues that the interviewer is the boss from hell.

Job hunters should look for lapses in behavior by the boss, advises psychologist Noelle Nelson, author of “Got a Bad Boss?” She told the Wall Street Journal about how one of her clients, a paralegal, noticed something amiss during an interview with the managing partner of a law firm.

The paralegal noticed that the managing partner’s secretary seemed intimidated by her boss and did not make eye contact with him. The paralegal later learned that the lawyer had a temper and was given to yelling in the office.

Another employee, Jessica Dean, told the newspaper that she interviewed with the owner of a technology startup who used profanity and inflated his qualifications. She took the job and soon regretted it. The owner didn’t trust her and left late-night voice mails asking about her work on projects.

The article offers several ways to unearth a supervisor’s true personality. Job interviewers can try Googling the boss or contacting people in their professional network who know the boss. One bad sign is a job that has been open for a long time, or that has been filled by a succession of people. During the interview, look for clues that the boss is team-oriented, giving credit to others rather than telling about his or her own accomplishments.

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