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10 Signs You Are Interviewing With a Bad Boss

When you’re interviewing with your future manager, he is assessing you for a fit in the organization and his team. This is also the time for you to get to meet with him and assess if he's a good boss to work with – for you.

When you’re interviewing with your future manager, he is assessing you for a fit in the organization and his team. This is also the time for you to get to meet with him and assess if he’s a good boss to work with – for you.

bad boss

(Photo Credit: betsystreeter/Flickr)

Here are a few telltale signs of bad bosses.

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  1. 1. They get straight to the point: When you are attending an interview, there’s a usual formality of greeting, introducing oneself, setting the context of the interview, and making the interviewee comfortable. This is basic etiquette. If the interviewer just blurts out a “good morning” and begins the questioning process, it’s a red flag. This boss is only concerned about work and not the person performing the work. So requests for leaves, promotion, etc. could be very tough discussions to have.
  2. 2. They are impatient: When you’re answering a question, they’re too impatient to let you finish your thought. They make hand gestures signaling you to hurry up and finish or interrupt you to ask a counter question or finish up your sentences. Such a boss is difficult to work with and may not give you the time or space to do your job well.
  3. 3. They are distracted: Checking email during the interview, making or receiving calls, and stepping out to give instructions to the secretary are all signs that the boss will not have time for you. If they cannot take time to assess a future team member, then the role may not be all that important to their view.
  4. 4. Their body language is intimidating/cautious: Looking down at you, pointing fingers, and crossing legs on the table are all signs of an intimidating boss. On the other hand, if they do not make eye contact, shift uneasily, keep looking at their watch, rechecking your resume, then you have a boss who’s not confident and may not let you grow in your role. “An insecure boss will find you threatening if you are good at your job and will use the power of the position to make your life miserable,” says Pamela Lenehan, president of Ridge Hill Consulting and author of What You Don’t Know and Your Boss Won’t Tell You, speaking to Forbes.
  5. 5. The mood of the bay changes as they enter: If you’re waiting near their office for the interview, observe how the team behaves. Do the employees hurry and rush back to their seats at the sight of the boss or do they just wave a greeting and continue what they are doing. Uneasy shifting, lack of eye contact between the employees and the manager is a sure sign that they do not share a good working relationship with the manager.
  6. 6. They can’t tell you about your predecessor: When you ask the reason the role is vacant, if they tell you that the person is being fired, or that they weren’t a good fit or are being “moved” or if they simply dodge the question, you have a tell. They are uncomfortable discussing it and the reason the person holding the role previously left, could as well be because of the way the organization/the manager treated him/her.
  7. 7. They ask illegal questions: Or try to gather as much personal information as possible by asking you questions that can lead to answers they want to hear.
  8. 8. They don’t have a long-term vision: For the business, the team of your role. They are unable to clearly articulate what they think the future prospects are and how they plan to support their team get there.
  9. 9. They talk more than they listen: In other words, they love talking about themselves, what interests them, what their hobbies are, while hardly giving you an opportunity to speak or respond. That’s a sign right there that you may have to deal with a huge ego once on the job.
  10. 10. They don’t even interview you: If you are not scheduled to meet with your manager for an interview, that’s a huge red flag. Either your role isn’t completely chalked out, or the manager doesn’t have the time to meet with you for an interview and instead delegates the task to a fellow team member. Chances are he/she won’t have the time to guide/mentor you when you need it most.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you interviewed with a horrible boss? Do you have experiences to share? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
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34 Comments on "10 Signs You Are Interviewing With a Bad Boss"

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Michael Gorman

OR you could transcend the conventional programming and work for yourself, circumventing the tyranny of working for a ‘boss’. The world of work is rapidly changing, people are waking up and discovering they have skills and abilities well beyond the narrow focus of the 9-5 dreary work world. It has never been easier to create your own business online – register a domain name, build a professional website with free tools and you have your branding. Instead of going to interviews you could be creating your own business.

I just came out of an interview today and deep down am hoping I DON’T get the job. The manager wasn’t aware that I was coming in (although the recruiter made arrangements the day before to have me be interviewed). The manager and supervisor literally had less than 5 minutes to review my resume’ and appeared unprepared with what questions they wanted to ask me. Why am I confused? The recruiter tells me to be short and to the point with my answers, because this is a fast paced company and they don’t have time for detailed answers. Yet, that… Read more »
Pam Brown

I applied for Housekeeping Supervisor, I just experienced a bad interview the othe day. From the time I met the Exec Housekeeper I sensed that I am not getting the position. The way the Exec shook my hand, she doesn’t smile, she hardly asked me questions, the HR coordinator was the one who kept asking me the question which is good but then I expected the Exec to asked me but never did. She didn’t show any interest in me. I felt insulted that she just wanted to leave the room. Very unprofessional.

I liked this article and laughed as I shook my head in agreement at many of the signs. I had a nightmare job 2 years ago and during the interview process saw red flags of a toxic work environment (i.e the director spent too much time talking and didn’t listen much). I didn’t pay attention to these signs as there were positive attributes about the job and therefore ended up taking a job in a toxic environment. I have since learned better and take notice of red flags/signs of a possible toxic bosses or jobs I just recently went for… Read more »
I interviewed for a job some years ago – the interviewer sat with his legs crossed and kept bouncing his legs up and down the whole time (that should have been a sign, but I had interviewed with scarier people prior to that). He seemed to be listening to me, but I had the feeling that his mind might have been somewhere else. He lied when I told him I wouldn’t take a job with no growth path, but I had no idea it was a lie at the time. I was called back for a second interview with his… Read more »

I was interview by a boss, as i enter the office and she said sit down,she didnt ask me for my resume, she said “do you have a copy of a referral letter and you last review.” I am sure i gave her a look. Then she says you are here to sell yourself aren’t you. I immediately knew her and i would not get along.

John S

At one interview, when he gave me a tour to meet the people I was to supervise, he belittled them right in front of me. The other employees looked glum and silent. I took the job but quit 6 months later as soon as my old boss said I could have my last job back.


Another sign..The prospective Boss is more eager to show you how knowledgeable he is and how dumb you are. He would not let you complete the answer and always stops you in-between.

Our division was bought out by another company that had different operating strategies. Four outsiders moved in and made the place feel like an occupied country during WWII. My boss, a woman (Nazi), began at the company that bought us when she was 18. She was now 40 and knew EVERYTHING about Everything. I found a $3000 billing error. Her response “It’s already shipped, nothing we can do.” That seemed stupid so I asked the accountant. “No problem. We’ll just send out a corrected invoice.” It actually pissed off this boss that I saved the company a cold hard three… Read more »
I would share my two experiences. In one incident my interviewer asked me all sort of relevant questions, told me the requirement for the role, and mentioned the position to be AVP (Assistant Vice President). Within a week of an interview I was asked to join immediately that too as DGM (Deputy General Manager), on asking whether all other DGMs in the company have similar experience as mine. I was told YES, all other eight DGMs are equally experienced. On my very first day in the office I was welcomed by my interviewer/Boss, saying we do NOT need your services… Read more »
I just came out of an interview today and deep down am hoping I DON’T get the job. The manager wasn’t aware that I was coming in (although the recruiter made arrangements the day before to have me be interviewed). The manager and supervisor literally had less than 5 minutes to review my resume’ and appeared unprepared with what questions they wanted to ask me. Why am I confused? The recruiter tells me to be short and to the point with my answers, because this is a fast paced company and they don’t have time for detailed answers. Yet, that… Read more »
maternity leave

I left a good job because I moved and my commuting both ways became a 3 hour daily trip in good weather.

I found a job 10 minutes away from home and I was very happy until I found out that I was a maternity leave replacement and that a I had only a few months left on the job. The owner lied to me and did not want to accept responsibility. He told me that my resume was too good to let it go and that he lied on purpose.

I am jobless starting all over again.

I had an interviewer start the interview with the firm rules that we ONLY had 1/2 hour for the process, so we must be very efficient. Literally midway through the interview, he stopped it to say he had to return a text to his wife who was home with the new baby, which took in excess of 5 minutes. Yes, I noted it as a big red flag. Then, on the way to the next interviewer (in a series of meeting with 5 people), he asked what compelled me to want to interview for the position. I told him, “I… Read more »

I worked as a temp for someone that had many of these signs but I interviewed and accepted the position anyway because I was desperate and scared. I was the sole provider and I needed a job. over the next 2.5 years, this guy made me ill…. literally. The stress caused problems in my marriage. I experienced anxiety and random crying. I had a variety of physical problems. I found another job and guess what… all those symptoms are gone.


My big indicator is

If you catch them in a lie during the interview, the job is not worth your time.

It does not matter if it is a big lie or a little one, they are all the same in an interview.

I can not count the number of jobs I have taken knowing that the person doing the interview lied to me.Every one of them made my “will never work for again” list.

I learned a hard lesson that worries me every time I go for an interview. Sometimes they simply lie about what the job entails. I was hired as a customer service representative which quickly turned into a sales position. We were in training for weeks that focused on customer service; suddenly training turned to high pressure sales tactics. Many of us had no sales experience but were pressured into performing anyway. The pay rate was supposed to change after training but it never happened. They waited until each employee asked for their raise and then told them the raise was… Read more »
Here’s a good one. One time I was interviewing for a job I got and the guy had all of these animal heads and trophies on the wall. I didn’t think anything of it…like this guy is a sportsman or something. No big. But it turns out…that was his mindset for everything! He was the hunter and he was going to put your head up on his wall if he didn’t like the job you were doing. So, if I had looked at those animal heads and gone, “Man, this guy is some kind of freak with the animal heads.”… Read more »

Alternative to #6 is when its a new position that has been open for a very long time and hasn’t been filled, despite a seemingly very strong need for it and possibly very overdue.


After three hours of inane questioning in a windowless room without so much as offering me a glass of water I excused myself saying I needed to put coins in the meter. I called later to tell her I was not interested.


Its the professional interviewers you need to be cautious of, where questions are supposedly used to find the “right” candidate. Many are infact looking for individuals thay can take advantage of with un paid overtime and promotions without a pay increase, all without any negative feedback or complaints.

Number 10 really caught my eye. I came in to my job through a temp agency. As a school nurse, we have a nursing supervisor, however the principal of the school always interviews the job candidates and makes the final decision as to whether or not they want that particular nurse in their school. (I didn’t KNOW that at first, being as I was a temp nurse). So, I went in as a temp and decided I wanted to stay full time. I was there 6 weeks, so I knew I liked the job, wasn’t overly fond of the principal,… Read more »
Invaluable information that many candidates overlook because they need a job and think it won’t happen to them. Toxic management IS NOT NEW! It is profitable for corporations. You will hear “how did they get that job? Why are they still here?” Because they got the job done!!!! They get you to do all the work, take all the credit, you quit, they win! In Right To Work States you get fired, they deny unemployment and $$$$$$ savings are reflected as profit! Connect and network with previous employees (preferably in other departments because they won’t be as threatened with retaliation)… Read more »
imroz shah

I want job in rak bank

Caesi Bevis
Oddest boss was one who came to work, read the paper, through file cabinets (super strength!) when mad at clients, and would yell at staff at such a loud volume from “private” meetings with the office door shut – that probably someone three blocks over would hear the details. He threatened to fire people if he caught them taking a catnap IN THEIR CAR on lunch break, instead of eating. When I quit several years later, he tried to get me to come back to work instead of getting married the next day. His office buddies were the ones who… Read more »

I went to an interview that lasted 15 minutes. During it, the interviewer insinuated people from my state were illiterate, and asked me if that was true. Um, obviously not. I was not disappointed to have not gotten that job.

I ignored a BIG RED Flag that this article didn’t list ….I was interviewing for a position as a therapist with the Director of Rehab and she started complaining that the person who previously had this position was a new grad and needed to be told every little thing. The POOR GIRL’S picture along with her first & last name was STILL up on the board!!!! This along with VERY HYPER behavior should have sent me running but against my better judgement I accepted the position. THIS DIRECTOR was my worst nightmare…. OCD, AHAD, and probably Bipolar all rolled up… Read more »

When the manager is describing the environment, pay attention to any inference of cronyism. I recently left a job because the new ‘big boss’ was quickly hiring new co-workers that were his subordinates at their previous employer. Chances are, you will ‘never measure up’ to those individuals, regardless how well you perform. You could also find yourself pinned between the ‘former employees’ and cronies.


Did you really have to use “he?” Bosses can be female too.


I recently started working for my friend, and will only be working directly for him for a short while longer. He runs his business so differently than I’ve seen other very successful people run theirs, and he is himself very successful. He is the first 5 of these, a little bit of #8 & #9, but FOR SURE #5 & #9. How and when do I tell him and still stay friends?

I was interviewed for a position that didn’t exist, at least according to the questions I was asked. I was there to discuss being a Systems Manager and the whole question and answer event was based on an entry level position. I asked why the questions were on the entry level position. “If you can’t do the little things how do you expect to manage the big things?” I replied that I had plenty of experience with all phases of the positions up to and including the Managers position I was supposed to be interviewing for. His reply was “I… Read more »

I think the getting to the point (1) and questions always happens on a phone interview as they want to weed out non technical people who have exaggerated on their resume before bringing them in for a face to face interview.


No. 1 was a big red flag for me in an interview. He just kept talking about how there would be no hand holding, that I had to step right into the position. Didn’t really tell me anything about the job. I would have been reporting to two managers and the other one was much nicer but he wouldn’t be the primary. I told the agency I was not interested. The guy lacked serious social skills.

muhammad ruhullah

hope in your shop good my name m.ruhullah me home india c.s..jeddah saudi arabia ?

Julian Miles

Item 1 could be down to the interveiwer being nervous. I wouldn’t place too much emphasis on that unless items 2 and/or 3 appear.

Item 6 may simply be a reticence to discuss a departed colleague.

These items are indicators. Being aware will allow you to pick up on them, but do not let them override your judgement and instinct on the content of the interview.

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.