Guest Blogger: Mark Stewart, President & CEO of Agriculture Future of America
We’ve all heard advice about being prepared for an interview. We know to do our homework on the company; know the individuals we’ll be interviewing with and their roles. We think through situational questions and our responses. We’re prepared to tie our experience to the responsibilities of the role we’re interviewing for. And above all else, we come prepared with questions! But do we go past that in our preparation? How often do we think about doing our own analysis of the company; our own interview of them, and how to spot a great boss? I can tell you from personal experience, and some record of job hopping, that it comes with practice. Not to suggest you have to job hop to figure it out – that’s me learning from my mistakes. Hopefully, you can take this advice as you look towards your next, and perhaps last, interview!
How do you spot a great boss and the right fit for you? I’ve tried to simplify what I’ve learned and heard from many mentors over the years it four simple categories.
1 – Do you see beyond comfort?
Sure you want to be comfortable with your would-be boss, that’s a given; however, to spot a great boss is to see one who will push you out of your comfort zone. You may not like it at first, but it will push you to get better and more importantly, not get bored on the job. Plus, who likes complacency anyway?
The key: can you see them making you comfortable being uncomfortable?
2 – Sniff out arrogance.
Listen, we need a boss who is confident; makes tough decisions, sees opportunities for growth; gets everybody on board. But there’s a difference between confidence and arrogance. So how do you tell the difference?
The keys: Are they listening to you? Do they seem to care about you as an individual? These are the first steps. More on this later.
3 – Can you see vision?
I’ve interviewed with bosses on both sides of this fence. How can you decipher their vision for the future? This starts with basic questions around strategic plans and differentiation. What you are drilling for is whether that forward looking confidence is there.
The keys: Can you determine if they are forward looking and moreover, can they get you truly excited about the future? If they can’t help you see it or get you excited about it, that should tell you a lot.
4 – What does your gut tell you, really?
When it comes right down to it, your gut will generally tell you what you should do. The challenge is to not let your brain tell your gut what to feel!
The key: Don’t let your brain “reason” you into avoiding your intuition. I’ve done it. Many friends and peers of mine have. The circumstances may have been different: had to have a job; needed out of current environment, etc. The reality is, you’re setting yourself up for more devastation if you don’t trust your gut.
Finally, when you get a chance to pose that final question, ask your would-be boss, “What do you find most appealing in me as a candidate for this position?” I like this for two reasons: 1) it lets you see how they make the connection between your resume and their needs, and allows you to respond with one last plea if you feel so compelled; and 2) it allows you to hear what they see in you as a person. Ultimately, you want to work for someone that sees you as a valuable team member, shows trust in your ability and seems concerned about your interests.
And to reiterate one more time (again, speaking from experience), don’t convince yourself on a boss or situation when your gut tells you otherwise. You can reason yourself into the worst situations. You’ll know if you’ve spotted a great boss if you pay attention to these signs; trust your intuition. Happy hunting!