Have you ever had the fleeting thought “Did I make a mistake in accepting this role?” after finding that the work, manager, team, culture, expectations were not “as advertised”?
If so, next time you interview for a new role, consider Julie Jansen’s suggested questions to evaluate “fit” with the prospective manager, outlined in her book, I Don’t Know What I Want, But I Know It’s Not This: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding Gratifying Work
Questions to ask any (and every) Prospective Manager
- What deliverables, accomplishments, behaviors do you expect of the person hired for this role during the first three months?
- First six months?
- First year?
- How will you measure success in this role after a year?
- What challenges the previous incumbent encounter in the role?
- What do you see as the role’s current challenges?
- What are the three top priorities for this role in the next year?
- How do these priorities align with the organization’s strategy?
- How can the person selected for this role help you manage your highest-concern challenges?
- How do you mentor, coach, and develop your direct reports?
- What was the next career move for the role’s previous incumbent?
- What did the previous incumbent accomplish in the role?
- How do you prefer to communicate with your direct reports?
- How do you prefer to receive information from your direct reports?
- In person, email, telephone, text message, other?
- How frequently do team members work remotely?
- How frequently do you want updates from your direct reports?
- How do you and your team integrate work and life priorities toward “work-life balance”?
- How would you describe your work style?
- Your management style?
- Your leadership style?
- Your decision style?
- How do you manage conflict within the team?
- With other organizations?
- What are your three most important values?
- How do your direct reports describe your management style?
- What are the characteristics of the best manager you’ve worked with?
- How are you and your team perceived in the organization?
Questions to ask the prospective manager’s direct reports (peers to target role)
- What are the manager’s job priorities?
- How does the manager develop, coach, and mentor direct reports?
- How frequently does the manager provide feedback?
- What work and person characteristics does the manager value?
- How would you describe the manager’s work style?
- What is the manager’s decision process?
- How does the manager deal with conflict?
- To what extent does the manager involve you and your peers in decisions?
- To what extent does the manager support work-life balance?
- What are the manager’s strengths?
- What are the manager’s development areas?
- What are the manager’s “hot buttons” or “pet peeves”?
- How does the manager prefer to communicate with you and your team?
- How does the manager prefer to receive information?
- How is the manager viewed in the organization?
- With what roles and organizations are manager allied?
- Who are the manager’s mentors in the organization?
- What advice would you give to the person selected for this role to ensure a positive working relationship with the manager?
These queries can’t guard against managers who leave the role a few days after you start, or re-organizations and restructurings that leave you reporting to a new manager in a new role in a new group, but they may provide additional guidance to potential “warning signs” of job mismatch or “misemployment.”
-*What questions have you found most effective in assessing work style “fit” and compatibility with a potential manager?
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