From The Straits Times    |


You might be feeling nervous about your next job interview. You’re almost certainly wondering what kind of questions you’ll be asked and if you’ll be able to think on your feet if any unexpected ones crop up. But have you ever thought about what questions you’ll be asking your interviewer

Job interviews work both ways – while the interviewer is assessing you as the best fit for the job, you can also suss out whether or not you want to work for that person. The company might be amazing and the job title extremely impressive. But what kind of boss will they be? The type of person you report to is just as important as the scope of work when it comes to how happy you are in your job.

In research conducted in Singapore in 2023, 94% of respondents said having good workplace relationships with their manager was among the most important factors about a job. This is why it’s important to get a good feel for your potential boss while you’re in a job interview. The first step is to have an idea in your head of what kind of person you want to work for.

“Having a framework of the type of boss you’d like to work for would be ideal,” says Richa Doyle, Director of Page Personnel Singapore. “We’re not talking checklist, but merely a set of guidelines in which you know what you want and don’t want in a boss.”

One way to suss out your potential boss is to do your research on both the company and the person interviewing you.  

“It’s kind of like going on a first date, I always say – do your homework and try and find out the good, the bad and the ugly,” says Richa. “The same idea applies here, the more you know, the better informed you’ll be and better able to ask more well-thought-out questions during the interview. 

Do your pre-interview research

There are a few ways to do your homework on your potential new boss, says Richa. Firstly, you’d want to know if they are good leaders who invest time in people’s development. Secondly, you’d want to see if you can gather any testimonials or written recommendations on them; for example, LinkedIn written recommendations can be quite helpful.

“If people have recommended them as their previous employees, it’s a very positive sign. The more you know, the more comfortable you’ll be,” she adds. 

During the job interview, there are ways to find out if your boss is a good communicator – a definite positive trait you want in a manager. 

Richa lists a few clues to look out for: 

  • An active listener who lets you speak and respond – being respectful throughout the interview.
  • Humility is key and someone who is aware of their position of power but communicates as equals is a plus.
  • Body language and facial expressions – smiles, warming gestures. Someone who is genuine will always show more favourable and open body language.
  • Asking questions about yourself and what you want out of your career/growth and explaining how they can complement those skillsets you’d like to work on to achieve your goals is key.
  • Leaders who are good are not afraid of feedback – offering a few individuals who work for them or used to work for them and advising them to have their own chats with them to share more about their leadership is a very strong statement that this leader is powerful and well liked and respected.

Don’t ignore the red flags 

Additionally, there are red flags you can pick up on that show they’ll probably be a bad boss. For example, when they interrupt you whilst you’re speaking or cut you off before you can finish your sentence or question – this isn’t a good sign. 

Richa notes that tone of voice is quite important too. It’s crucial to see how they speak to you – do they talk at you or to you? Pay attention to their body language. Are they positioning themselves in the room as they are the superior in the room with the most ‘power’?

Another red flag is if they ask inappropriate questions. For example, do you have kids or are you married or are you planning on having kids because this is a ‘demanding’ job. Richa says this shows lack of respect and potentially a leader with low EQ. 

You don’t want to work for an inexperienced boss either and these red flags could be a sign that they aren’t truly qualified to lead. 

“If they are doing anything in the red flags list then they are a mix of inexperienced or haven’t received proper training on how to manage in the nascent part of their careers and it could be too late for them to work on those things,” Richa explains. “An inexperienced leader is always going to be a little all over the place and trying to get everyone to either like them or do everything they do.” 

It is okay to ask a potential boss questions about job scope or the company’s working style but Richa says to stay away from inappropriate and personal questions.