don’t trust the answers to “how would you describe your management style?”

When you’re interviewing for a job, you want to know what kind of manager you’d be working for.

Here’s a question that isn’t that likely to tell you: “How would you describe your management style?”

That question shows up over and over on lists of questions that job seekers should ask their prospective managers in interviews. But it’s not likely to get you solid, reliable information about what that manager is really like to work for.

Most people — and especially bad managers — are notoriously bad at accurately assessing their own management style.

I’ve sat in interviews where chronic micromanagers have described themselves to candidates as “hands-off” and giving people lots of autonomy, or where absentee managers painted a picture of themselves as involved and engaged. I’ve heard managers describe thoughtful, supportive performance management systems that they didn’t ever actually use. And I’ve heard an ear-numbing amount of platitudes like “open door policy” and “servant leadership” and other catch phrases that revealed nothing about how the speaker actually operated in practice.

Even when it sounds like you’re getting specifics, you can’t assume you’re getting the whole picture. A manager might tell you about the structured performance system the company uses to address problems, but what you won’t know is that they only make use of it in the most egregious situations and only after being pushed to for years. Or they might tell you about an appealing-sounding system of recognition and rewards for great work, but you won’t know they rarely use it and in fact regularly make people cry with their feedback.

There’s just an incredibly high chance of getting answers that sound reasonable but don’t reflect how things actually work most of the time.

And it’s not that bad managers are deliberately trying to deceive you; it’s that many (most?) bad managers are convinced they’re good managers! Many of them truly believe they’re kind, fair, thoughtful, and well-liked. Many of them also know the “right” things they’re supposed to say in response to this question, and they say them.

Instead, the best way to find out about how a manager actually operates is to ask other people. If you have a chance to talk to other employees on their team, ask those people about the team’s management. (Don’t just ask about management style though or you’re likely to get vague answers. Ask things like how mistakes are handled, how problems are addressed, how much support they get in their jobs, and what they’d change if they could.) And if at all possible, use your network to find people who have worked at the company or with the manager before and talk to them. You’re far, far more likely to get candid, accurate information that way.

There are also other ways you can assess a manager in an interview that will be revealing. For example, pay attention to whether your interviewer can clearly describe what success in the job will look like, since a manager who can’t name what you’ll be expected to achieve in your first year on the job hasn’t thought through what they really need and is more likely to surprise you with different expectations than what you thought you were signing up for. Pay attention, too, to how you’re treated during the interview: Is the person who would be managing you polite, respectful of your time, and actively interested in you? Do they answer questions head-on or give vague or evasive responses? How up-front are they about the downsides of the job or the culture?

But ultimately, to know what a manager is really like to work for, you’ve got to talk to people who have worked for them. And if you can’t do that — since admittedly it’s not always easy — at least make sure you take anything they tell you about their own management style with a high degree of skepticism.

{ 165 comments… read them below }

  1. Barney Stinson*

    I’m interviewing to find an analyst for my team, and the team gets time with the top candidates. I ask my team to give their direct line so the candidate can take a reference on me, without me present.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yes, I’m a huge fan of peer interviews without a supervisor present. I am interviewing for a supervisory position now, and I’m having two of this person’s peers interview separately so they can provide candid answers. We have our entry-levels interview with people who have been with us 6-12 months to talk about their experience and take on onboarding/training as well.

    2. A Person*

      Exactly! I always make sure at least 1 interview is with someone on my team without me present.

      1. Aarti*

        Can I ask, how do you handle when your team goes off script? I got my hand slapped because I always let my team interview without me and one of them said something to the potential interview that they weren’t supposed to (nothing bad, just something about the commute that was VERY SPECIFIC to this one employee and would not apply to the interviewee at all). This got all the way back to my CEO and now I am apparently not allowed to let them interview without a manager present. Which is dumb and micro-managing.

        1. Green Beans*

          Wait, they weren’t supposed to say anything about their commute, when presumably the candidate has access to a map and could have – I don’t know – looked at to figure out if it would apply to them or not?

          That sounds like a CEO problem to me.

          1. Aarti*

            The employee in question occasionally had a very long commute (2 hours each way). (Sometimes we have to go to client sites). This was a rare and infrequent thing, at most once or twice a year. She said it to the interviwee, who at the most would have a 1 hour commute, once or twice a year, most times 20-30 minutes. But she said it to the interviewee and made it seem like it might happen often.

            1. Green Beans*

              I still don’t think that’s a problem – ideally the employee would have been specific about the circumstance of the commute (was it a commute, or were they traveling to a different site?) The candidate could ask follow up questions if it was a concern.

                1. Green Beans*

                  Yeah, I had a coworker accidentally misrepresent things (on a different team, thought a job responsibility would be less of my job than it was because her visibility was very different.)

                  I just asked the hiring manager, “hey how much of the job is X? Other person thought it would be a very small part of my job, and that wasn’t my impression.” My now boss was like, “no you’ll be doing a lot of X, here are the specfic numbers, here is what others contribute.”

                  Easy as!

                2. Chauncy Gardener*

                  Geez Louise!! Sorry, but your CEO is weird. I vastly prefer peer interviews without me present and encourage them to go off script!! Actually, I go off script too…. :)

            2. Smithy*

              I think you answered your own question – in that what the CEO did was dumb and micromanagey.

              When it comes to issues like commute time or business travel, it’s inevitable that different people will respond differently. I have a friend who for years did a daily two hour one-way light rail commute that required waking up at 4am. I did it with her once about ten years ago and still complain about that one time as cruel and inhumane punishment. While also understanding it was a job and living situation that worked for her for years and years.

              If this is a case of a candidate who withdrew because of what the employee said and how it was followed up on – then a) that candidate was really adverse to any kind of longer commute and was right to withdraw or b) there was more to the overall interview process that would have been interpreted as concerning by the candidate.

        2. Barney Stinson*

          I participate in the group interview with my team talking to the candidate, and then invite my team to give their direct lines to the candidate so they can talk without me there. I gave them coaching on proper interview techniques, questions, etc.

          1. La Triviata*

            This sounds like a good approach. I’d like to add one caveat – some managers will treat their staff differently, depending on whether they like them or not. We had a situation where one person came in, reporting to a friend. While the organization was going through a period of trying to economize, that person got resources that were being denied to other staff at the same level. I’m not sure if you could get a good idea of whether you were talking to an especially favored or disliked person if you wanted to get a good idea of a manager’s actual style.

        3. NotAnotherManager!*

          I think this is a CEO problem, however, we do basic interview training for anyone who’s going to interview. There is a do/don’t reference sheet of HR guidance for legal issues (discrimination, questions barred by district law, etc.) and just some organizational preferences (like not asking people stupid what-kind-of-tree/animal-would-you-be questions) and tips on using situational/behavioral questions and following up if someone didn’t answer your question adequately.

          There are also some people that I don’t let interview based on past interview performance, having job performance issues, or not consistently demonstrating good interpersonal judgment in the workplace.

    3. F.M.*

      When I interviewed for grad school, the department set up something similar; they made to give me multiple times out with various groups of existing grad students, without any faculty around, so that I could ask them with more confidentiality what it was really like to be a student in that place. I especially appreciate that, entering a field with a known gender imbalance, they arranged one meal just with grad students of my gender, so that I could ask them frankly about that aspect too.

    4. Hey Nonnie*

      Candidates should keep their antennae tuned during peer interviews as well, however. Last job I interviewed for, I was granted a phone call with someone who was already working in the job I was interviewing for. I went in expecting a fairly relaxed two-way conversation, but it pretty quickly became apparent that she was mostly just feeding me the party line. It wasn’t anything I could point to specifically, but I definitely felt like I wasn’t getting the whole answer whenever I asked a question. If I’d been in a position to walk away from a job offer, I would have seriously considered it. As it was, it definitely did not live up to the party line I was fed. It was tolerable, more or less, but it wasn’t the greatest place to work. (They failed to live up to a lot of the promises they made to me during the interviews, for one, and I’m quite sure that was the plan all along.)

  2. Kimmy Schmidt*

    If you are ever asked this question in an interview, what is the best way to answer it sincerely and reflectively?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I used to hire managers for a job that required truly outstanding management skills (because they’d be coaching and training other managers) and I found that asking them that question generally got me nothing useful so I stopped (I replaced it with really probing into how they’d handled specific management challenges in the past, plus simulations/exercises). But the few answers that were useful were when people talked about how they saw their role as a manager — what do they believe they are there to achieve, and how do they achieve it? — and what feedback they’d had from people they manage. Oh, and also how their philosophy about/approach to management had evolved over time — that got a lot of interesting insights and was harder to BS (and I actually asked about that directly for a while).

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Would it be appropriate to ask the person who’s interviewing you how they’d handled specific management challenges in the past? I know the ‘tell me about a time when you’ is a common question for interviewers to ask, but would it be ok to turn that around and ask them one, or would that look cheeky and pushy?

        1. Usagi*

          I think it’d depend on how the question is asked. If it was worded in that exact “tell me about a time when you…” it’d be kind of weird? But if it was worded more like “have you ever had a situation involving XYZ? Can you tell me how that’d be handled on your team?” would be ok

          1. tamarack & fireweed*

            I’ve felt I’m getting ok information if I ask the question in a really open-ended way, like “Can you tell me more about the team you manage and what it looks like day-to-day? For example, does [team] work closely with [other function] and are there any conflicts?” Basically, if the manager is informed, empathetic, has their people’s backs (without coming across as Mama/Papa Bear) and seems to understand what different team members’ roles *and*needs* are and how the whole articulates together, that’s a good sign. Though it has to be really open-ended since a very good manager may also just have taken over this particular team a month ago.

        2. just a random teacher*

          When I was interviewing for teaching jobs, one of the questions I found useful was to ask the principal for an example of something in their building that was a principal-level decision, something that was a grade-level team or department-level team decision among a group of teachers, and something that should be left up to each individual teacher rather than decided at a higher level. I’m not sure if that’s quite a behavioral question, but it might get at some specifics of management style if you could find a way to adapt it to an office-type organization.

          I was mostly looking for a response that showed that the principal had ever thought of having boundaries and could clearly articulate at least one thing they were directly in charge of and one thing they were not going to micromanage rather than caring about specific answers. However, the one who had a long pause and then said “I think the teacher should figure out whether or not the students need to wear coats at recess each day and I really shouldn’t be getting parent phone calls about that” was certainly flying a few red flags…(Bigger red flags from that particular charter school interview: this was a large group interview with multiple candidates present, who then had to do things like build structures out of newspaper in groups with their fellow candidates, and the current teachers on the interview panel learned that the principal was planning to expand and open a middle school in the unused building next to the elementary school during the job interview as he explained to the candidates that that’s why he was considering those of us with the right licensure for teaching single-subject middle school classes despite the opening being to teach a 5th grade class. He figured he could move that person around later but this way he could start shopping for hard-to-fill subjects now, I guess? I really wanted to level-change to elementary at the time, but definitely not at the charter school this guy was running, where apparently the teachers did not need to know about things like adding an entire new level of school and only needed to make decisions about coats.)

    2. Smithy*

      I think as much as you can reflect on your actual management touchpoints and how that connects to the goals of the job you’re hiring for – that may ultimately give a lot more insight for a candidate.

      Things like how often you communicate via slack/IM, regularity of IM’s, collaborating on projects vs your direct report sharing updates that you report up. It may sound a little more quantitative, but I do think that for someone who’s looking for a lot of independent work – if the nature of the job requires a more collaborative approach….considering yourself a micromanager or not may ultimately not matter.

    3. NotAnotherManager!*

      I don’t know that my way is the right way, but I talk about what I view my job to be, how I have found best to do it, and give some examples. (For example, part of my job is to ensure that people have the resources to do theirs, making sure people have access to appropriate and relevant professional development opportunities is part of that, so we have X resources in house/have provided Y resources from external sources/supported specialty training Z for someone whose job required it.)

      Then, I let them talk to their peers without me present as part of the interview process so that they are be able to ask more specific questions.

    4. A Person*

      One way I talk about this is talking about how I vary my management style based on my individual reports. That both (a) lets me talk about what I do in a nuanced way and (b) give specific examples that can help them understand how I manage

  3. Smithy*

    What success looks like, what are key targets of the role, what do people in the role struggle with the most – these are things I’ve found the most helpful in actually assessing a manager.

    I’m in fundraising and while there are many ways that success can be measured, unless there’s something that explicitly says there is no fundraising financial goal – your performance is often boiled down to just that. I once had an interview where my would-be boss or grand boss tossed out a measure of success that in my perspective was not a goal that was achievable/that I’d want to commit to. I withdrew from the process and when asked why, mentioned specifically that was not a goal I could commit to. I got numerous emails after saying that wasn’t an actual target but more of stretch ambition and that he’d just been talking and didn’t mean it.

    I’ve seen fundraisers who are horrible colleagues but end up exceeding fundraising targets (often due to external forces) be promoted and really great fundraisers who don’t hit their targets (often due to external forces) be utterly trashed. To walk into a job where that marker of success is treated carelessly or fundraising targets are moved around based on one reaction in one meeting, absolutely not.

    Obviously what this will look like for different sectors and different jobs will fluctuate, but as I’ve had more experience asking questions about goals – I’ve felt a lot more confident in assessing managers in interviews.

  4. Parcae*

    “For example, pay attention to whether your interviewer can clearly describe what success in the job will look like, since a manager who can’t name what you’ll be expected to achieve in your first year on the job hasn’t thought through what they really need and is more likely to surprise you with different expectations than what you thought you were signing up for.”

    Oh. That would explain a few ex-jobs, then.

    I’m bookmarking this post. It gets at some stuff I’ve really struggled with in previous interviews. Thanks, Alison.

  5. Not really a Waitress*

    I had a boss tell me after I was hired in our getting to know you that said he “had no ego” and I could tell him my thoughts.

    Narrator: He did in fact have an ego.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        People who truly have no ego generally have no spine, either. Which doesn’t make for a good manager. At all.

        1. The OTHER Other*

          I had a manager who was pure id and he was difficult, he kept hiring his mother and firing his father.

    1. Green Beans*

      I have a rule that if you’re encouraging over sharing/potentially risky honesty before you’ve put in any effort to build trust, you’re not a trustworthy person.

      There’s nuances in execution but I’ve never gone wrong following it.

    2. The New Wanderer*

      I was assigned to a new manager (briefly) who, in every meeting, would say something was just his opinion, he was absolutely open to other ideas or points of view, “correct me if I’m wrong,” and so on.

      Narrator: He was open to other ideas, as long as they came from more senior male employees.

    3. IEanon*

      I was assisting the search committee to replace my supervisor. The person we eventually chose said that they believed in training opportunities and letting employees stretch themselves. They also said they valued independence in their direct reports.

      They proceeded to strip me off every committee, deny me stretch projects and micromanage me until I left for a better paying job less than 18 months after they were hired.

      They did say they intended to mentor me in that interview, as well. That wasn’t a lie, but the “mentoring” essentially boiled down to telling me I was unprofessional and naive, and that by answering emails too quickly or taking on additional projects, it was apparent to everyone that I was trying to outshine them. And that would be frowned upon if I ever tried to move up. *cue eye roll*

      1. Anonymous4*

        Man, that would not go over well in my workplace! One major advantage I have, though, is that my job is so highly specialized that it takes another expert in miniature Satsuma teapots from the Meiji period with crackled glazes to understand what the heck I’m talking about when I start using technical-speak on them.

        Which is something I do only when strongly provoked. One of my strengths is that I can discuss/explain antique teapots in a way that Average Joe can follow me. Or not, depend on the circumstances . . .

    4. Generic Name*

      In my 15 year career, I’ve had exactly one colleague who I would describe as having no ego, and I don’t think he would ever say that about himself. It’s like the people on dating sites who talk a big talk about being “no drama” and yet are the biggest drama monarchs themselves.

    5. hbc*

      I never believe a self-stated positive. It’s like the Dunning-Krueger effect, but for emotions. Only selfish people declare themselves unselfish/generous because they firmly believe that they deserve so much more than they have. Only someone who sees a gap between their achievements and self-promotion declares that they are humble. And no one who actually lacks an ego has done enough navel-gazing to have an opinion on the state of their ego, never mind thinking that new acquaintances need to hear about it.

      1. Goldenrod*

        Omg, this is so true. I’ve noticed that only dumb people want to tell you how smart they are –and only unfunny people will tell you how funny they are.

    6. tamarack & fireweed*

      My rule of thumb is that if someone volunteers “X is not a problem for me” or “I pride myself in not being an X”, and X is something widely considered a flaw, then chances are there *is* a problem with X going on. Because they must have been chewing on it to have it on top of their mind.

      If X is on the other hand something positive (“I pride myself in X”) then it can be going either way. If it feels boastful and gimmicky, then my guess is always that it’s the same as for flaws – they are just talking about something that’s nagging at them because it’s actually a problem. OTOH of course it can happen that you get a thoughtful manager who says something like “It’s very important to me that my team members have all they need to be efficient at their current job and the opportunity to develop their careers” it could mean just that. I can only trust my judgement of how the whole person comes across when deciding that the actual message is “supportive manager who develops her people” or “asshole who will throw their people in the pit at the first opportunity but has been TOLD that it’s important to support their people”.

  6. Just J.*

    I’d like to offer advice to senior managers in STEM who are contemplating promoting someone into management who is good at science / tech / engineering but is unproven in management: Don’t do it. Unless you really, really see good manager potential.

    The idea that someone who is “good at science” ergo they must be “good at management” is false. The skill sets are not even remotely equivalent. As we joke around here, doing so kills two positions. You’ve lost a good scientist and created an incompetent manager.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I think this is generally good advice across industries. Someone who is an excellent SME or individual contributor is not necessarily management material.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I wish more places had options to move up in a non-management track. I can supervise staff, but it’s not something I prefer, so I avoid those kinds of jobs.

        1. urguncle*

          This was something that I actually pushed really hard for in our diversity initiatives. It sucks to see really smart people lose out on advancement opportunities even when they are making the correct choice for them in not managing people.

        2. The Original K.*

          Yeah, me too. I don’t particularly want to manage people. I had a coworker at a previous employer who left for an org with a non-management promotion track; he kept turning down promotions where we worked because he didn’t want to manage people, but there was no other way for him to advance so he left.

          1. Pikachu*

            I don’t want to be a people manager. This fact basically put the brakes on my marketing career. I was a rock star project manager, but growing my technical skills and taking on new projects was never enough for an actual salary increase because I don’t want the additional burden of emotional labor that being a people manager often requires.

            I work for myself now, so I can actually get paid for the work I do. I couldn’t see another way out.

        3. Just stoppin' by to chat*

          My company (tech industry) has very senior-level IC (individual contributor roles. I have no desire to be a people manager, and yet still see myself retiring from this company in the future. There’s no reason I can’t spend the rest of my working life for this company as a strong IC.

      2. a tester, not a developer*

        I still feel bad for my former manager, who got fired because of that very issue. She was a fantastic SME, but seemed to think that a manager had to be the SME of everybody’s work. It wasn’t too bad when she was leading a small team (but it wasn’t great). Then she got a team of 30+ people with very different specialties. It did not end well.

        At least now my company has a non-management track, and also allows people to move back to individual contributor roles if they discover management is not their thing.

      3. The OTHER Other*

        This is indeed a widespread issue, many people are successful as individual contributors but managing people generally takes a very different set of skills. Many organizations either don’t know this, or they know but cannot afford training to develop these skills, so you get a top salesperson flailing about tying to figure out how to motivate others or even track performance accurately.

      1. Artemesia*

        Even in fields where you would expect the expertise to lead to competence in management it is hilariously true. I once observed two noted experts in organizational leadership screaming at each other in a departmental office over some turf issues. These people were teaching others how to run organizations. One was a world renown expert. But this was the best they could do in actually running things.

        1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          Those who can’t, teach…
          There’s truth in that. Of course, knowing how to do something to perfection and actually doing it day in and out are very different things.

    2. Magenta Sky*

      Knowing how to do a job well and knowing how to tell if someone else is doing the job well are somewhat related, but are *not* the same skill set.

    3. Lab Boss*

      Yup. We had two candidates or a management position. We ended up giving it to the one who wasn’t as strong on the pure science but had more potential in the people skills side of management- from day 1 she’s performed so well I haven’t regretted it once. We are working with the more senior scientist on what advancement for her looks like in the lab, which is where she is more satisfied being anyway.

    4. Green Beans*

      The idea that someone who is “good at specific area of science” is therefore “really intelligent and good at everything” is patently false and needs to stop being perpetuated in STEM.

        1. Green Beans*

          And yet it persists so strongly.

          My favorite was a former director, 68 years old, who could run basic programs if IT installed, configured, and trained him on them and who did not keep up with the modern Internet, telling our website designer that “I consider myself – fairly, I hope – a reasonably intelligent person, and this [design choice] took me a few minutes to figure out. I don’t think it’s very good.”

          It took him three months to figure out the basics of Zoom when he was using it 8 hours a day and he couldn’t figure out basic navigation in YouTube, so….

          1. Splendid Colors*

            Depending on the intended audience of the website, it might be good feedback that someone who isn’t tech-oriented finds it confusing. OTOH, if it took him only a few minutes when Zoom baffled him for three months, that might mean it’s really well designed!

            1. Green Beans*

              It was an either/or menu decision – both possible ways are commonly used, but there are only two ways to do it (and had been discussed extensively by the team before presentation.)
              I didn’t mind the preference, it was the assumption that he was smart–>so he was really good at all things, including the Internet–>if he couldn’t figure it out instantly it was bad design.

              And no, our audience was not the very un-tech-savvy. :)

              1. New But Not New*

                He was arrogant, age had nothing to do with it. PLEASE commentariat, stop it with the casual ageism.

                1. BubbleTea*

                  I can’t see any ageism. His age was stated factually, as were his claims and his ability with tech. But it is the case that someone in their 60s will have spent a smaller proportion of their life using the internet and computers than someone in their 20s. That isn’t ageism, it’s chronology.

      1. Lady_Lessa*

        Amen. I’ve seen both good and bad examples. And some of us just can’t learn how to do it. (Of course, when the company was trying to force me to be better boss of a technician, I had the responsibility, but not the authority. Like how do I encourage her to arrive on time. I had no carrots nor sticks.)

      2. Lab Boss*

        Heck, I’d settle for stopping perpetuating the idea that being really good at one area of science means you’re particularly good at a moderately different area of science! *Glares at Neil DeGrasse Tyson*

      3. Elizabeth West*

        This is true in so many situations. In school, I blazed past everyone in spelling and writing but they could not wrap their heads around me not being able to do math. They thought if I was that smart, I should be able to do it all.

        I’ve seen it at work too. OldExjob promoted a decent middle manager to general manager; he failed and was miserable. Then they fired him.

    5. Nanani*

      Thiiiis. Not everyone wants, or should want, to move from using their skillset to managing other people’s skillsets.
      Managers are just one type of job, not the goal of every job!

      But growth at all costs i guess :|

    6. Generic Name*

      Ha, yeah, at my company, one of our best PMs was rocketed into a manager of managers roles, and he’s not doing all that great at it. :/

    7. hbc*

      I wouldn’t say “Don’t do it,” just don’t overlook the actual management skills required. I’ve had fantastic managers who were formerly SMEs because they had excellent people management skills *and* were decent-to-awesome at the science, so they could weigh in on the projects from both perspectives.

      Also, FWIW, I’ve seen lots of STEM people nope on out of any career path that involves people management. The worst I’ve seen of the phenomenon is sales people promoted to managers of sales people. Being good with customers does not translate to being good with employees. So many horror stories.

      1. Tinker*


        One of my former grandbosses was that type of person — sales guy promoted to manager of sales. On top of that, I’m not and never have been in sales — he was my grandboss because I was on the controls programming team, which reported to him.

        This was a hardware / software sort of company, so this meant that the team that made the things that the sales team bid for reported to… the manager of sales. Which made bids remarkably easy for the sales team, because they could promise the moon and stars in custom software work for no extra charge, and then dump the resulting albatross on the controls team and tell us that team work makes the dream work.

        I worked there for precisely 365 days. My boss was working 80-hour weeks before I left and had his first kid shortly after. I suspect he didn’t stay much longer than me. Womp womp.

    8. tangerineRose*

      I’m in STEM. I was in a junior management role for about a year or so before I finally asked management if I could step down from that role. I did not enjoy it. I was not particularly good at it. I would have been better if I’d been reading AAM, but it really wasn’t my thing.

    9. Olivia Oil*

      This is true for other industries as well. Ive complained about it before on here. Management is a completely different job type to individual contributor jobs, not a naturally linear next step in advancement.

      Regarding the convos around the intern letter, I think manager roles have the same problem as administrative roles on the other end. Admin roles are seen as entry level and “low skilled” across the board, when they are in fact completely separate job functions and substantial skillets. They should not be treated as a gateway to other jobs that have nothing to do with admin. It should just be treated as separate job functions.

    10. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

      Small companies in the biotech industry generally do not offer SME trackers, to their detriment. There is only one promotion track or “career ladder” and that involves managing people as you move up. I have wrestled with this for years, because I have never wanted to be a people manager and it’s the only way to get promoted–and getting promoted is the only way to get a significant salary increase, as well as get recognized for your increasing skill/experience level. At a prior job, I simply refused to be a people manager, and when a junior employee and a couple of interns were hired, all of whom officially reported to my boss instead of me, I still had to do *all* the routine daily management, monitoring, training and development of those people because of the nature of the job and the organizational hierarchy. So that was a huge backfire – all of the work and none of the recognition. Time passed and I didn’t get promoted–I asked why, and was told that I had not demonstrated that I could manage people. LOL. I pointed out that I had been directly managing several people for an extended period, even though I wasn’t officially their manager. All I heard was crickets in respone. Anyhoo, it is really a no-win situation.

  7. Random Internet Stranger*

    I had a manager who was terrible. Highly respected outside of the organization, a true innovator, creative, and super smart. Absolutely terrible manager. She was far too hands off, gave vague instructions, was hard to track down or get answers from, and was always last minute (meaning you were doing things for her at the last minute).

    In fairness, she was unbelievably self aware and knew, or at least suspected, that we all hated it. I was relieved when I left that job.

    1. Spearmint*

      It seems like it’s a common problem that, in many fields, you *have* to go into management to move up in the organization, even if you’re bad at it. But then you get people who have great strategic vision or innovative ideas who are forced into being managers when management skill was never the reason they were promoted in the first place.

      1. londonedit*

        Yep, that’s where I am. I’ve been told I can’t have a pay rise unless there’s some way I can take on some sort of management responsibility. Firstly I work on a small team and there isn’t really a sensible way for me to manage anything/anyone, and secondly the whole point of why I wanted this job in the first place is that I’ve been there, done that with climbing the ladder like you’re ‘meant to’ and I’ve realised I don’t want to manage people, I want to do the hands-on work that I’m good at. So you’ve got someone like me, with nearly 20 years’ industry experience, doing a job I really enjoy but unable to be fairly compensated for my skills and experience and the fact that I can run an entire list of books by myself, simply because I can’t tick the ‘is someone’s manager’ box. And that’s only going to lead to people who are experts in their field being frustrated and moving elsewhere, and it leads to my job being seen as something that’s done by younger (read: cheaper) people as a stop-gap before they move on to management roles, rather than something that’s respected in its own right.

        1. askalice*

          This is where a system of bonuses needs to be implemented. Tied to high performance. I left an entire industry where I was absolutely untoppable, could easily do the work of three people and more accurately, and was still being compensated at the same award rates as people waaay down the competency scale. I really enjoyed it too, but the inability to make any more money eventually broke me.

  8. Charlotte Lucas*

    I can guarantee that the 2 worst managers I ever had thought they were great & that they were managing a “problem department.” (Our work required a high level of accuracy and accountability, including extremely tight deadlines & meeting federal requirements. Despite our high metrics & consistency in meeting goals that got our company incentive money, we were all unreasonable, fussy nags.)

  9. nnn*

    A thing I’ve found tells you a lot about a person’s management style is to get them talking about employees they’ve disliked in the past. What’s informative is not just what they’ve disliked about these employees, but also how they talk about people they dislike.

    I haven’t figured out how to work this into a job interview, but I’m putting it out there in case anyone else can.

    1. The OTHER Other*

      Ask them the question Alison suggested about what makes someone OK versus great at the job–who has been good, who hasn’t. If the answers seem personalized vs: job related, that’s useful to know. I generally ask what prior people in the role are doing–have they moved up, moved on, been dismissed, etc. How does the interviewer seems to feel about it–are they happy for them, angry, defensive?

      I one had an interviewer visibly grit his teeth and glower whenever mentioning the prior person in the role. I asked more questions of potential peers and it turns out this was a manager that felt betrayed by anyone leaving. The peers were so used to it that were very matter-of-fact about it, it seemed normal to them and probably would never have come up if I hadn’t dug a bit.

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        Great idea – it’s sortof the converse to what interviewers sometimes do: give a candidate an opportunity to trash talk their former manager or employer, and count it as a strike against them if they do.

        Open-ended questions don’t always give you the information you want, but if they want, it’s often highly valuable.

    2. F.M.*

      Huh. I would consider it inappropriate for a manager to tell me that they disliked one of their employees, especially in an interview. Though I suppose if it’s phrased along the lines of asking about some difficulties they’ve had when managing employees, it might get at much the same results.

      1. Lab Boss*

        Yeah “dislike” seems oddly personal. Maybe roll it together with a positive question like “What can you tell me about what makes an employee more or less likely to succeed in this role?” or “What kinds of employees seem to thrive versus struggle in the department?”

      2. Danish*

        I think that was the point. If you ask about the person in the role prior and the manager starts talking about how much they dislike that person… you have some very useful information about the manager.

      3. tamarack & fireweed*

        Exactly. When they do – big red flag. If they answer from a genuine, empathetic understanding of what the challenges of the job are and how to coach someone to be great at it – a point in the + column.

  10. Corpse Grinder Guy*

    My response to that question from an interviewee would be “Have you seen the movie ‘The Devil Wears Prada’?”

  11. Venti vanilla latte breve*

    Im showing my age here, but I once reached out to someone on MySpace to ask about a potential manager. This person had previously worked at the company and reported directly to them.

    Their feedback was the final straw for me. The potential manager had behaved terribly during my interview process and hearing what about the former associate’s own experience was enough for me to remove myself.

  12. Delta Delta*

    I had an internship once with someone who, apropos of nothing, said, “I’m a really good manager” in our interview. This felt like a yellow flag because a) I just met this person that moment and had no idea if she was a good manager or not (she was not) and b) it struck me as a really weird thing to say. She did tell me about a couple other interns she had and suggested I talk to them, which sort of tempered the flag from red to yellow.

    1. irene adler*

      Yeah, weird.

      I got a similar statement from a hiring manager during an interview. She backed it up by telling how many times employees told her how much they wished they worked for her.
      Uh-huh. Bye!

  13. irene adler*

    Great advice!
    How willing would a manager, or a company, be to allow the candidate to talk with the manager’s reports (assuming candidate is a finalist for the position)?

    When interviewing, I’ve not made the request to speak with the reports. Would asking this put people off? Or would that be one of those instant red flags if it does?

    1. Smithy*

      I’ve had these interviews before, and I just want to flag that you’re still best off approaching these questions a bit indirectly. For a start, not everyone is necessarily seeking the same kind of manager. So someone who responds really well in a more collaborative environment might not be bothered by some characteristics that others would find to be micromanaging.

      The other issue is if the hiring manager is either an awful manager or perhaps a really nice manager but the larger system doesn’t allow them to be effective – direct reports can be inclined to protect their manager or themselves. Either for fear of someone withdrawing and that it might blowback to them or out of loyalty or out of odd perceptions of how the industry should work. I’ve found that when people make reference to learning by being “thrown in the deep end”, it’s often worth pushing more for how onboarding is done and goals are set. Because in my experience, it’s indicative of assuming a certain level of chaos is normal or even a good thing.

      In a formal interview setting, it can give more insight. But I still would be prepared to ask more indirect questions.

      1. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        “I’ve found that when people make reference to learning by being “thrown in the deep end”, it’s often worth pushing more for how onboarding is done and goals are set. Because in my experience, it’s indicative of assuming a certain level of chaos is normal or even a good thing.”

        I’ll add the phrase “hit the ground running” as a potential flag for on-boarding chaos, but even then, those two phrases might also indicate a manager who default trusts and respects the skills and experience of the people they hire, rather than an employee needing to prove themself worthy before being allowed to do their job, and a robust onboarding process that helps a new person acclimate quickly.

        1. irene adler*

          Thank you both for responding!
          I do ask about the onboarding/how will I learn this job. I get a lot of “Um, well, … not sure how that will be handled. Ideally….”
          Very few seem to have that robust on-boarding process up and running.
          Smithy- thank you! – indirect approach and be mindful of who is telling you what about the manager. For obvious reasons.

  14. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    I work for a grand boss who talks about what a great communicator she is and how she has advanced degrees in communication, but reality is she’s one of those people who think all communication is on a Need-to-Know basis and in her estimation, none of her reports need to know anything…but also our department needs to be more “transparent” and clearly we need more coaching in that to serve the our internal stakeholders. In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

    1. irene adler*

      My now retired boss believed himself to be an excellent communicator. His most outstanding skill, in fact. He learned how to communicate in the Army. They trained him.
      He caused more confusion for more people for more reasons than anyone I know. Truly awful.
      He never stopped talking yet said very little of value.

      1. Anonymous4*

        If he was one of those who loved to snap out that idiot phrase, “If you’re not early, you’re late!” I would stop listening to him at that point.

  15. SurlyGirl*

    Would it be better to frame the question as “what would your direct reports say about your management style?” I doubt anyone asked that question would say that their direct reports hate them, but I wonder if it would elicit a more candid response than the canned lines they’re expecting to give.

    1. Lab Boss*

      It’s a great inversion of asking a candidate “what would your previous supervisor say about you” Instead of “what are your strengths and weaknesses.” It puts them into a position to consider a third-party perspective of their work.

    2. ecnaseener*

      Maybe a little better, but enough people would be able to tack on “My reports would say” in front of their canned answer that I still wouldn’t really trust it.

    3. Prefer my pets*

      Nope. The worst micromanager I’ve ever known would talk endlessly about how hands-off he was and how he had almost no turnover in his employees when in reality every employee under him spent hours a day on job sites and desperately networking trying to get out. You see, it doesn’t count as “turnover” if people retire (several years earlier than planned) or take promotions (into positions they weren’t terribly interested in).

  16. Cassandra*

    As a candidate at interview, I would love to be able to use all my ‘allotted’ questions to turn to my potential manager and start firing a series of ‘tell me about a time’ scenarios at them :-)

    Shame the power imbalance makes it fairly improbable I’d get hired…

  17. Fabulous*

    I actually watched a video/webinar on Youtube the other day on asking interview questions that gave a pretty good answer to this conundrum:

    First, disguise what type of answer you’re looking for with a lead-in statement, “I’m a detail-oriented person. I also like the freedom to create. I’m wondering…” Then, you would ask a scenario-based question, “Can you give me an example of how you work with your staff to ensure deliverables are done on time?” And then you could follow up with how they would specifically work with their highest/lowest performers, because they should be adjusting their management style to match the needs of the employee.

    Video/webinar is by Andrew LaCivita titled, “How to Ask Questions in Job Interview to Assess an Employer’s Behavior” and this specific section is around 13 minutes in.

    1. irene adler*

      I like this.

      Although, doesn’t this come across as asking the manager a behavioral question? Thought that was a no-no as it would be likely to offend. Which is too bad; behavioral questions should be asked of both parties.

      1. Fabulous*

        I hadn’t heard it was a no-no to ask a behavioral question… I’m assuming you mean like a “tell me about a time when…” question? I would think if you come across someone who would find it insulting, that would be a good thing to know up front / red flag.

        1. irene adler*

          That is exactly what a behavioral question is. And yes, red flag if they can’t handle what they dish out (i.e. if you ask behavioral questions, expect to answer behavioral questions).

      2. Distracted Librarian*

        FWIW, I’m a manager, and I’d love to have a candidate ask me a behavioral interviewing question. But I may be in the minority.

        1. Lab Boss*

          Yes! Our recent hiring has been a lot of entry level positions and many candidates have either not known how to ask good questions, or been so focused on wanting the job that they didn’t think to see if they really wanted it. We just interviewed for something more senior and it’s wild how much more engaging an interview is when it’s got good give-and-take, I felt like I came away knowing the candidate better even when they were the one asking the questions.

      3. ecnaseener*

        Arguably, the only managers who’d be offended by that are the ones you don’t want to work for anyway.

  18. cubby*

    literally the only time i ever asked that, the hiring manager proudly and confidently responded ‘oh i’m a TOTAL micromanager. i like to see every step and sign off on everything!’

    1. Jack Bruce*

      lol the one time I asked that, I got back “I believe in coaching people to be successful” and turns out she meant extreme micromanaging, passive-aggressive conversation, and putting people down.

  19. Bethie*

    We (I) tell people straight up – we dont micromanage. We all have large work loads, and we will do our best to communicate what and when its due. But you have to have the drive to work independently in a WFH environment without constant oversight to be succesful in this position.

    Because the reality is – we give tons of support eand everyone up to the top will answer any question you have – but you have to be comfortable owning your work, looking for information on your own, and making quality decsions based on that information.

    I think its fair to just put it on out there.

  20. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

    It would be nice if HR acted more like Glass Door and would answer those questions about their own people or own culture. They aren’t doing themselves any favors by hiring someone into a position they will leave quickly, so why not be more upfront without the candidates having to sleuth it out.

    It depends on how comfortable a candidate feels in the interview, but I might ask either the manager or an HR screener to give some numbers:
    What is turnover like in this department, in the first 2 years, 5 years, 10 years?
    How long has the longest-tenured employee in this department been here?
    How long has this manager been with this department, and how long do managers tend to stay in the department?
    Is there an administrative assistant/s supporting the whole department, or just an EA for the manager? How often does the administrative assistant position turnover, especially compared to other positions in the department?

  21. DodgedABullet*

    This question actually worked for me once. The response I got was, “Like Meryl Streep’s character in ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ Oh, but not mean like her.” Her colleague agreed. I assume the caveat at the end was BS.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I got a similar response when I asked about my current boss and it was way off base. From someone else not from her. She said she was super direct and had high standards, which is true. But I prefer that.

    2. Lab Boss*

      The conventional wisdom is “everything before the ‘but’ is BS.” In this case I think you’re right, and it was everything after :D

    3. Constance Lloyd*

      This once worked for me because, when describing exactly how she wasn’t a micromanager, the interviewer said, “For example, I don’t care if you use the tab key or your mouse to move between fields.”

  22. miss chevious*

    I insist on my candidates having interviews with some of my direct reports without me for exactly this reason — people need to hear how I manage from those who are managed. I like to think that I’m a good manager (doesn’t everyone :) ), but I’m not for everyone (no one is) and candidates should have the chance to make that determination for themselves. I was surprised when I learned that this isn’t standard practice in a lot of places, including my company, but they don’t try to prevent me from doing it, which is good.

    1. Pikachu*

      How honest do you think your direct reports really are? If they really need a teammate to handle some of the workload, I feel like telling a potential candidate that you aren’t a good manager could be something of a conflict of interest. Yeah, they want a candidate to know the real deal, but at the same time… if they really need the right person in there to do the work, it could be tempting to hide the dirty laundry.

      Also, I hope you are named after Michael Scott’s women’s suit.. and so long as “Michael Scott” is not your management style, you’re probably just fine. LOL

  23. stephistication*

    I didn’t know the servant leadership term was widely used in business. That is exactly how I model myself at work. Although I have a super visible, sought after niche role with lots of perks, I don’t operate as though people owe me. I come to work to make other people shine and make their jobs easier. As a leader, I lead via my service to others and I don’t need to be perched on high.

  24. YL*

    I’m wary of people who say “so-and-so would be a good manager” when so-and-so doesn’t want to be a manager/knows they don’t know how to be a manager. I remember in coding bootcamp, one girl tried this one me. I was upfront that it would be a bad idea because the last group I led explained why my leadership was bad and I agreed with them. I also didn’t have enough leadership experience. I made the mistake of thinking this girl was trying to build me up. Nope. She wanted a mommy to manage her angry outbursts when she did something wrong and a scapegoat for her dirty work.

    1. Lab Boss*

      Reminds me of an absolute brilliant subject matter expert who’s been here since way before my time. Company legend has it that he kept saying he didn’t want to manage, and when he was told he was going to be forced to run a department he gave verbal notice on the spot. Upper management intervened, he rescinded his notice, and he’s happily working under a manager with decades less experience than him, continuing to do what he’s good at and enjoys.

      1. Anonymous4*

        They’ve pulled some real bonehead moves at my organization but they’ve never done that one! I won’t mention it, either, in case they decide to give it a go.

        I’ve had bosses who would hint at it, and a couple who suggested it right out, but I don’t want to go management. I’m TECHNICAL, and I’m going to stay technical. We lose so many women to lower management positions and while it means more money for them, which is good, it means we lose them from the technical perspective. And for some unknown reason, they just don’t advance up the ladder . . . which is just as frustrating as it can be. A friend of mine would make a superb comptroller, but she’s not considered for advancement because she’s not an ex-military guy.

    2. Filosofickle*

      Colleagues tell me all the time I’d be a good manager. But I know it drains the hell out of me and I don’t enjoy it. So even if I were good at it, it wouldn’t be good for me.

  25. Eldritch Office Worker*

    What I’ve found to be most useful, if the interviewing structure allows, is to ask someone else what the hiring manager’s style is like and then ask the hiring manager the same question and see how their responses line up.

  26. Renee Remains the Same*

    As a manager, I’m wondering if there’s a way to get an independent assessment of your management style? I would be hesitant to ask my direct reports – there’s too much of a power dynamic to pose such a question and even if they felt comfortable giving an answer, I would feel uncomfortable asking.

    I ask, because I like to think I’m a good manager. But, to be honest, I have difficult staff on my team and I don’t always feel that I’m the best manager for them, which in turn leads me to think that at worst I’m not a good manager or at best have blindspots.

  27. irene adler*

    Not nearly as good as talking to a manager’s actual reports, but I’ve found that “How do you support your reports?” reveals a few clues.
    Some take the question very seriously resulting in thoughtful answers.

    One interview all I got was ” I give you your assignments.” Her manager, who sat in on the interview, leaned over and said, “I think she meant more along the lines of what things you do to set people up for success.” Which didn’t help the manager one bit. She was at a loss on what to answer.

    Another, the manager burst out laughing. And responded with, “I’m the only one who can yell at you. I won’t let anyone else do that to you.”

  28. AndersonDarling*

    I don’t know why I can’t ask the hiring manager situational questions. I expect to be asked “tell me about a time when…” questions when interviewing, but I think the interviewer would be stunned if I asked, “Tell me about a time when one of your direct reports was struggling. How did you handle the situation?”

    1. ecnaseener*

      What’s stopping you? Sounds like a good way to spot managers who don’t see you as an equal and don’t care if the two of you are a good fit for each other.

      1. irene adler*

        Apparently it’s a big no-no to ask the manager a behavioral question. Maybe the candidate will be viewed as being too forward or headstrong or having the makings of a troublemaker because they are asking the harder questions. Silly huh? I like your rationalization- it should be welcomed.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I’ve never shied away from asking challenging questions in interviews, whatever the advice says. If I was passed over because of it, that’d be a good thing, frankly. Because I’m totally that employee. Truth in advertising!

        2. Not a cat*

          I don’t get that at all. If they can’t handle that type of question then how can they handle me if I challenge them?

  29. Anon for this*

    How did you handle COVID for your team? (And how did your company handle COVID?) were really enlightening questions for me during my last job hunt.

    1. Llama face!*

      I tried that one and it sounded wonderful. And then the person who interviewed me quit before I started and their replacement was not on the same page. At all. :(
      But I do agree it is a good question. It was just bad luck in my case.

  30. Ann O'Nemity*

    My favorite was an interviewee who said his management style was more hands off – “I’m not a micromanager!!” – but then all his specific examples sounded like… micromanagement. It reminded me of “I’m not a racist, but….”

    1. PT*

      One of my coworkers called our boss a microfuckuper, because he micromanaged but had no idea what he was doing, so he was forcing everyone to do their jobs badly.

      1. zolk*

        I worked for someone like that. Made me write an email in, not joking, four fonts (including comic sans as the primary), 12 colours, lots of multiple exclamation marks in a row… I “accidentally” sent the “wrong” (times new roman, 12, clean) copy

  31. PT*

    I once had a boss ask me in an interview what sort of management style I had.

    I was like, well, doesn’t it depend on what sort of manager my reports need? Different reports have different needs. They need more or less support, or more or less monitoring.

    Incidentally that boss was a terrible manager and got fired shortly after I accepted the job, and then I left too because the damage she’d left in her wake was insurmountable. She was that bad.

    1. Fabulous*

      Your answer is 100% a sign of a great manager. Too many people pick one style and apply it across the board when it doesn’t work for everyone.

  32. pcake*

    Asking people who are peers or above a manager about their style possibly won’t help because they often won’t really know anything about that manager’s style as they may get their assessments from the manager themself. Asking people who report to the manager is of limited usefulness since sometimes the employees know they may be fired or end up harming their careers by telling the truth.

    1. Green Beans*

      You’d be surprised what you can learn if you listen for what people aren’t saying. Most people communicate a lot more than they think they, if you really know how to listen.

  33. CommanderBanana*

    Does anyone have any insight into why so many horrible managers have such a profound lack of self-awareness? I’ve worked for a string of incompetent to outright abusive managers. Sadly the best manager I ever had was when I was working at a retail boutique as a teen.

    1. Green Beans*

      I think a lot of it is lack of training (so no standards) and people being the manager they think they would love to have. My old job got a new boss right as I was leaving and she was super “you can be totally honest, let’s all be emotionally supportive and close, as long as we work together, everything will be fine, I just want to listen to you!” and it was so incredibly naive and tone deaf to the (toxic, burned out, borderline witch hunting, understaffed, we only need to agree there are problems not fix them) culture that she was stepping into. But I very much got the sense that she was committed to being the kind and approachable boss she never had and all her efforts were going towards managing downward and being liked, when what they needed was someone willing to throw down with leadership to fix the very obvious issues and hold others on the team accountable.

    2. berto*

      because confidence and never showing weakness has been a standard celebrated management behavior for decades

    3. pancakes*

      I don’t think is a manager thing so much as a humanity thing. Many, many, many people lack self-awareness, period.

  34. Ambrianne*

    “(T)he best approach to elicit information from people in authority is to daisy-chain naïveté, empathetic statements, and presumptive statements” (p. 162, Schafer & Karlins, The Truth Detector). I highly recommend this book.

  35. Fae Kamen*

    My executive director is notorious for a lack of communication and transparency. Often it’s just out of disorganization and time management, but sometimes she intentionally holds back information in ways that have even made me a little uncomfortable.

    I once watched her tell my preferred job candidate that the biggest problem she noticed among employees was that they didn’t take advantage of her open-door policy to tell her when something was bothering them or ask her about some information they weren’t sure about. As a result, she said, misinformation and resentment spread within the organization.

    I am still proud of my poker face but I did let out a big exhale after that interview. (Also, we got the candidate and she’s still with us… even though she now knows the truth!)

  36. Panda Bandit*

    I had a rare situation: a micromanager who knew it and said it. Unfortunately she didn’t see anything wrong with it.

    1. Fabulous*

      I once had a boss like this! He knew he was a terrible micromanager, and people were warned that he was very particular with how he liked things done. There was a reason his “long-term” assistants only lasted 2 years – and I was one of them too! Didn’t stop me from going out to my car on occasion and screaming at my steering wheel out of sheer frustration… haven’t been in that job for nearly 10 years now and it still gives me shivers. Though, I did get a lot of good out of it, namely how to work with difficult people, haha!

  37. RB*

    I once participated in a panel interview and the person being interviewed for the manager position described her style as passionate. Turns out passionate was code for abrasive and bullying.

  38. Gordon*

    I was once asked during an interview to describe my leadership style. My response was that I was not the best judge of that and, further, that on my list of references, I included the most senior direct report in my current role and suggested they ask that person the question instead.

    I did provide what I believed to be the managerial behaviours I felt important to such a role and the degree to which I felt I regularly practiced them, but qualified that only an observer of those behaviours should be trusted to provide an assessment.

  39. berto*

    Ask any direct manager these questions:
    – When was the last time your team failed, what happened and how did you deal with it
    – When was the last time you had an employee that was unsuccessful, explain why and how this was resolved
    – Talk to me about your communication style. Do you expect immediate responses to email? When was the last time you had to communicate with your team after hours and what was the nature of that communication?
    – How hands-on are you with the team? Give an example of when you’ve been very hands-on and very hands-off.
    – I have significant caregiver commitments outside of my work (I’m a parent of young children). Explain to me how we can balance these commitments so I can be most successful (including specific details)
    – What is expected of the candidate in this role in the first 30, 60, 90 days

    Essentially, you are looking for details. The good manager will answer these questions with specific information, based on actual situations. The bad manager will answer in general terms, based on a “philosophy” or “best practice”. You want to sniff out a micromanager first and foremost, so pay attention to scenarios like “I asked the team to do xyx overnight or over the weekend”, and dig in as to how / why that happened.

  40. Mr. Bob Dobalina*

    Remember the old “Peter Principal”? People get promoted until they get a job that requires different skills (often people management skills) and then prove incompetent in that job. This is still rampantly practiced in corporations, but these days it does not seem as much of a barrier to further promotion.

Comments are closed.