How to spot a tyrant boss a mile away

Everything is almost perfect.  The job sounds great, the salary being offered is right on the money, and the company looks good – it seems like the right move for you.  There is just one more piece of the puzzle left to fit, and that’s understanding what your “new” manager is like.

The biggest predictor for happiness in the workplace is whether you have a good relationship with your manager or not.  In a recent Gallup study, 50% of those surveyed said they have left jobs because of a bad boss.  Hell, there’s even a movie about Horrible Bosses!

What if you could assess a boss before accepting a job offer?  Well, you can and assessing whether a boss is a good match for you or not could save you a lot of time and money (most especially on marriage counselling and whiskey bills).

Here are our top tips to assessing whether a boss could be a potential tyrant or not;

I vs We

Put on your ‘Psych 101’ hat, and assess the language the manager uses during your interview with them.  Are they using ‘I’ or ‘We’ – “I believe in getting the job done”, or “I’m looking for a developer who has a good work ethic”?  This could be an indicator of a person that sees themselves at the top of the food chain, with the rest of you as subjects in his kingdom.  This could indicate that they don’t value team work and collaboration.

Do your checks

As most companies will be checking you out on social media and other networking platforms, so can you.  If you are privy to the manager’s name beforehand, have a look at their online profiles.  What does she do in her spare time?  Do you have anything in common with this guy?  On LinkedIn, do they have any recommendations from colleagues they have worked with in the past?

How good is his attention span?

Is the potential manager giving you their full attention, or are they constantly gazing off into space (as you literally see him dreaming about his weekend fishing trip, and not hearing a thing you are saying about your Oracle experience).  Does he switch his phone off, or not have it on the table at all?  Or has she taken five calls in the time it’s taken you to sit down?  This could indicate whether or not the person is the kind of manager that gives their staff time and focus, or whether they don’t value your time at all.

Read between the lines

If you don’t have the opportunity to meet with your potential manager during the interview process, and are only seen by an HR Manager, you might want to ask questions about the manager and their team to gauge their team culture. If the HR Manager describes the person with any of the following phrases, pull up your chinos and get the hell out of there:

  • “He can be difficult, but you really just need to know how to handle him”
  • “She takes some getting used to, but she always gets the job done”

Willingness to go off script

Is your potential manager willing to forget the list of 20 questions and ‘talk’ to you?  Do they like to see where the conversation goes, and are they genuinely interested in what you have to say?  This might indicate their willingness to be flexible within the team.


Trust your instincts and go with your gut.  Or trust the guys in the industry that know, call e-Merge or check out our jobs page now.





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