Perform Your Due Diligence Before Accepting a New Role
It’s the first quarter of a new calendar year and the marketplace is robust with job opportunities. Several of my clients are deep into the interview process and contemplating new roles. It’s essential for the candidates to be empowered in the process. It’s your interview too and you must perform your due diligence to determine if the role, your prospective boss, and the company culture are a good fit where you can do your best work.
Spot a Toxic Workplace
I read a savvy Harvard Business Review blog on LinkedIn with great tips to identify a toxic workplace, so you don’t accept a role in a dysfunctional organization. The idyllic best behavior is on display during the interview process, and it takes discernment to see the red flags.
Here is a recap of what to look for from HBR:
- A bad interview process. Poor communication from recruiters, ghosting, and endless interviews are a few signals that there may be something broken in the company you’re applying to. Other signs include being inflexible on interview dates and times and pressuring candidates to accept offers the day of.
- What current employees say (and don’t). Listen carefully to the responses current employees give when you ask questions about the role, the specific team you’d be joining, and the overall organization. Watch out for vague or coded answers — and, of course, dodged questions. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions to get more clarity.
- High turnover. An abundance of job openings could be a sign of growth, but it could also suggest that the company struggles to retain its employees. Track which roles are being posted and how often. If you notice the same roles going up regularly, that can be another red flag that the company’s culture is toxic.
Interview Your Prospective Boss
You’ve heard the adage, people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss. Your success and satisfaction are aligned with the leadership to whom you report, so remember that you are interviewing your future boss as much as they are interviewing you.
I practice what I preach in this realm and have interviewed my prospective bosses over the last decade before I accepted new roles. These conversations set me up for success and gave me an eyes wide open look at the leaders I chose to work alongside.
The Interview Ask
It’s imperative to come to every interview with questions you can ask the team. But interviewing your boss requires a separate and private conversation. When you become a finalist, it’s time to ask the hiring manager to schedule a separate 30-minute conversation with you and your prospective boss. Explain that this is your opportunity to get to know the leader better and determine if the hire is a mutually beneficial fit. A one-on-one conversation will allow you to get to know each other better. Avoid a lunch meeting for this interview, since it can be distracting and does not allow for a private and focused conversation.
I encourage you as the candidate to take copious notes during this conversation, so you can factor the answers into your decision-making process if you are ultimately extended an offer.
Interview Question Ideas for Your Boss-to-Be
Remember, the spirit of this conversation with your boss-to-be is to learn more about them and discuss what you value in a leader and a work environment to learn if you are simpatico. Here is my long list of favorite questions, plus a few fromSHRM, which you can customize to meet your specific needs, and add your own. You will decide which questions are most relevant to you. Keep it conversational and honor the 30-minute meeting request. If they extend the conversation – this is bonus time with your prospective boss, and a very good sign.
- How do you prefer to communicate?
- What’s the best way to ask for your input and feedback?
- How do you give constructive feedback? Do you welcome it from others?
- What are the biggest strengths and challenges of the team and our goals?
- What can I do to support our team and add value to the organization?
- What would you add to, or subtract from your current team to strengthen performance or productivity?
- With whom should I meet outside of our team to pursue my due diligence about this role?
- I value a culture with Psychological Safety (When a team or organizational climate is characterized by interpersonal trust and a climate of respect, where one feels free to collaborate and feels safe taking risks, or making mistakes which ultimately enables the team to implement rapid innovation.) Does Psychological safety exist on this team?
- What is the team/company culture you wish to develop and nurture?
- Do I have your permission to take innovative risks, fail-forward, and showcase resilience when things don’t work out?
- What does success look like to you?
- What is a misconception people have about you, and why?
- How do you groom and develop direct reports for advancement?
- How do you re-charge and tend to your self-care?
- What else do I need to know about you that I have not asked?
After you interview your prospective boss, you must take the time to reflect on whether they are a good fit for your work style and your future career goals. We spend many waking hours at work and our relationship with our direct leader impacts our personal and professional satisfaction, productivity, and advancement.
Be a bold, professional, and savvy candidate and ask your future boss for a brief conversation, so you can interview them and determine if this is a professional match you want to pursue. I know from experience that it’s 30 minutes well spent. Perform your due diligence before accepting a new role, so you have all the information you need to consider if it’s your best-fit.