Questions to ask your future manager before joining the team

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Sep 8, 2022 5 min read

The fish rots from the head, they say. Don’t hesitate to use job interviews as a two-way street. Ask your interviewer these pressing questions to reveal the character of the team you are considering joining as well as that of its leaders.

On our quest to find the best possible job with the coolest benefits, we often end up overlooking one of the most important aspects of any job. One that will ultimately define our experience in a new company – a great manager.

Don't just look for a great job, look for a great boss

The people you work with will influence your career, aspirations, your health and even self-image in a profound way. A great manager makes even tedious jobs exciting, while a toxic manager will make you feel horrible even in the best of companies.

Before you go to your next interview, ask yourself – What am I looking for in my future employer?

First things first, do they even let you ask questions of your own? If it’s all about asking you those tricky questions and never letting you have a word in, be ready for an authoritative and no-feedback-welcome environment.

Good with questions? Great, then move on and try to learn as much as you can about both the personal and professional qualities of your potential boss.

Personal Qualities & Emotional Intelligence

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In his book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, Dr. Travis Bradberry summarized his learnings from a study of 1 million professional profiles. The research included everyone from workers from the frontlines to the C-suite. What he discovered was that for every job title in the study, the top performers are those with the highest EQ scores.

CEOs and managers with higher EQ have led their teams and companies to measurably better results than what businesses with low-EQ management reach in the same environment. The teams with a high-EQ boss have also reported higher levels of both motivation and productivity.

For a quick EQ check, here are the questions to ask your potential manager:

Question #1: What do you love about your job? What keeps you going every day?

If this person is not afraid to share their motivation or, even better, inspires you with their answer, they understand the value of personal connection and the power of being vulnerable. However, if a manager sounds like they feel burdened by their job, that’s a red flag.

Question #2: Could you tell me about a time when the team experienced failure? What about success?

Questions like these will show you how the interviewer handles difficulties and victories. Do they expect one person to carry the full responsibility for a flop? How does this team usually deal with obstacles? Is it a culture of fear or one of mutual support? Are visibility and growth impeded by laying blame?

Also, this is a good moment to look for clues on how they manage personal stress and whether they let it influence their professional relationships.

Question #3: Would your team describe you as fair?

Posing a question this way seems to effectively bring out the honesty in people and make them steer away from the pre-packaged polished answers. If the answer is dishonest or manipulative, you will notice it too. An honest answer should take them a few moments to think about and would probably not end up being pure self-praise (unless they have 100% employee approval score).

Professional qualities

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Working with a manager who has strong interpersonal skills is great. However, unless they know what they’re doing professionally, you’ll end up with a well-liked leader who doesn’t know where they are going. These are the questions to ask your future manager in order to get a glimpse into their professional qualities.

Question #4: Experience: Is this your dream job?

Asking you future manager this question should help you tell if they are passionate about what they do. Did they grow into this position or simply got the right diploma? Are they following their dream or just aiming for a big paycheck?

You want your boss to know what they are doing and have a deep understanding of their own role as well as the one for which you are applying. It is even better if they’ve had a long career in the field and are excited to share their experience with you.

Question #5: Vision: Where do you see your team in 2 years?

In other words, are they a proactive strategic thinker or someone who follows the inertia? A humble strategist will often recognize the challenges associated with the team goal and mention how you will help the organization achieve its vision.

Question #6: Leadership: How do you measure success?

The definition of team success becomes the definition of your personal success as soon as you join the company. How will you know if you are doing good? KPIs and metrics will either empower you or cut your motivation at its root. Measuring success should be about quantifying the value you bring with your work. Think of questions to ask the manager about the metrics that are specifically relevant to your position. Make sure they measure the value of your contribution towards reaching team’s goals and not just counting the hours you stayed in the office.

the choice is yours

We spend over half of the time we are awake at work. Wouldn’t you want to spend that much time around people who inspire you to do more and be better? To spend that time actually enjoying your work?

A survey by Paychex shows that out of top 15 reasons why people leave their jobs only 3 don’t directly depend on or couldn’t have been solved by a great boss. Working with bad leaders can make or break your career. Don’t be shy to ask your manager what your future at their company would actually look like.

To secure your next interview, use the Enhancv platform and upgrade to a more human-centric and performance-based resume.

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Dmytro Moroz
Dmytro is a gospel music lover, design enthusiast and a content crafter at Kanbanize where he writes about business improvement, process efficiency and productivity.
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