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The interview: ten ways to spot a toxic manager

Regardless of how much you may want a particular position, it is the people who make a workplace pleasant or difficult

Attending a job interview can be both exciting and nerve-racking and in our flustered state we often neglect the fact that this is an opportunity for us to evaluate our potential new boss as much as it is for them to assess our capabilities.

Here are our top ten warning signs that your potential boss may need to be given a wide berth:

1) Criticising the team

If the interviewer puts down other employees, they will do the same to you. If they criticise the company in a scathing way, they are demonstrating that they are not ashamed of stooping to unprofessional behaviour.

2) Putting you down

This should be obvious. Personal insults calculated to make you feel bad should not be tolerated. This type of person will use you to shore up their own ego.

3) Discussing other candidates

This is never acceptable and is even worse if it is done in a way that is derogatory either to you or another interviewee.

4) Commenting on your personal life

If the interviewer intrudes on your personal life, including things such as questioning your reliability because you have children, they are committing one of the worst interview sins. Your personal life should be irrelevant to your ability to do the job.

5) Complaining

If the interviewer spends time during your meeting complaining about their own job, this is a sign that they are likely to be a negative and draining person to work for. It is inappropriate to bemoan your lot to a complete stranger!

6) Exhibiting rudeness

If they are happy to speak rudely towards you on your first meeting, imagine how they might treat you when they get comfortable and familiar. There is never an excuse for rudeness, which demonstrates a lack of basic social skills.

7) Breaching confidentiality

Telling you about the company’s financial problems, the personal issues of another member of staff or inappropriate information about clients, patients or cases reveals that they are probably not very mature and are likely to overstep boundaries in more ways than one.

8) Lacking integrity

This is difficult to quantify; however, if the interviewer seems cynical or disinterested, this is unlikely to be a fulfilling place to work.

9) Violating boundaries

If you feel uncomfortable about anything your interviewer says or does, steer clear. Anything worryingly inappropriate should be whistle-blown to the relevant authorities.

10) Agenda pushing

If they spend too much time during your interview soliloquising about their political affiliations or religious beliefs, they are more interested in themselves than in interviewing you.

A good job interview should feel positive and respectful. Both parties should pay heed to manners and the focus should entirely be on discussing the role and the relevance of your experience.

A capable and confident manager should be working with you, not against you; after all, the goal is to find someone with the qualities to fill the vacancy and they should be seeking to find these qualities in you. A skilful interviewer should not be trying to tear you apart.

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