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How to Hire Good Managers (When They Might Wind Up Managing You)


When is a hire more than just the addition of another bright mind to your company? When the hire is a manager. Bad bosses are the No. 1 reason people hate — and then leave — their jobs, so if you’re helping HR vet someone at the top of the food chain, you’ll need to know how to recognize the signs, not only of a good boss, but of a good boss for your particular team.


(Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr)

“A poor cultural fit is the primary reason top managers fail, according to executive coaches and recruiters,” writes Joann S. Lublin at The Wall Street Journal. “But there is no perfect way to predict a match. So in addition to the traditional rounds of interviews, networking with prior staffers and review of analysts’ reports, senior-management applicants are now being urged to play the role of corporate anthropologist to gauge their compatibility with potential employers — from quizzing future subordinates to dining repeatedly with the boss-to-be.”

Do You Know What You're Worth?

It’s even more potentially awkward on the other end. If the manager your company is considering is really high up there, a simple reshuffle could mean that you’ve helped hire your own boss, or even your boss’s boss. So how can you make sure you’re not casting your vote for someone who’s going to drive you out of the company?

Do your research.

The candidate isn’t the only one who can play anthropologist. Dig into his or her background, via Google and LinkedIn. (Just make sure your privacy settings hide your full identity. No need to let people know you’re snooping.)

Research his former employers. If the candidate spent 10 seemingly blissful years working for a company with a completely different corporate culture, that’s a red flag. People can adapt, of course, but it’s something to know before the interview.

Really listen to the candidate.

You might be just a tiny part of the interview process, but you can still use the time you have with the candidate to make sure you’re plugging for the best possible fit. Listen to what he says about accomplishments, goals, working style, and culture at his previous company.

Job interviews are unnatural situations. They can’t show you what a person is like to work with every day. They can, however, give insight into what the interviewee thinks the hiring company wants to hear, and what he thinks is important in life and work. Sometimes, that’s enough to start getting a read on what this person would be like as a boss, whether he winds up managing you or other members of your team.

Tell Us What You Think

What are your tips for hiring good managers? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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