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Ask Slashdot: Interviewing Your Boss?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the are-you-really-as-clueless-as-you-appear? dept.

Businesses 219

First time accepted submitter Uzuri writes "I'm soon going to have the experience of interviewing an individual to be my direct supervisor. I have in mind several things to ask already, especially since I also have the strange position of working as a technical person in a non-technical office and want to be able to be certain that the interviewee understands exactly what that means without coming off as hostile or condescending. What sort of questions would you ask/have you asked the person who was to be your boss? What sort of tells would you look for? What's out of bounds?"

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Ask him (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278329)

Will you fire me?

Re:Ask him (5, Interesting)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#42278597)

Better idea - ask about management style, then count the buzzwords. Deduct 10 points for each buzzword, and reject the candidate when the score drops by 50.

In all seriousness though, HR is probably going to ride shotgun over the whole process, and they will most likely provide the article submitter with guidelines (usually that STAR thingy, where you ask questions like "...tell me about a time when you were frustrated with another employee during a project, and how you overcame it to meet the project goals.")

What I would do is not only ask similar questions, but pay very close attention to body language, personality, and suchlike. Be sure to throw in questions that make him/her squirm and think a little, to see how they react. Maybe make him write a script/program/etc or two while you're at it to see how proficient the person is.

Re:Ask him (4, Insightful)

vikingpower (768921) | about 2 years ago | (#42278667)

Very good, mod parent up. Body language is very important. Does he/she keep his/her hands visible, and what "story" do the hands tell ? Do you get to look the interviewee straight into the eyes, and as often as you want ? Deduct points for every time you hear "Honestly..." or "Frankly...", for you may be sure that after these words you are going to hear the exact opposite of what they mean.

Re:Ask him (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279571)

I hear that bullshit about "honestly" and "frankly" all the time and most everyone believes it. I say the same words as filler speech to invoke attention at the beginning of a statement or to add a bit of dramatization. It certainly doesn't mean I'm lying. Honestly, when I'm lying, I won't say that shit because of the connotation it has on it. I'll also look you straight in the eyes.

Re:Ask him (5, Funny)

GNious (953874) | about 2 years ago | (#42279759)

Deduct points for every time you hear "Honestly..." or "Frankly...", for you may be sure that after these words you are going to hear the exact opposite of what they mean.

You must be american ...

Re:Ask him (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278837)

Even better - apply to the position yourself.
You're almost sure to ace that interview!

Re:Ask him (5, Insightful)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42278915)

Managers should manage, coders should write code. A manager should get the jist of what's going on beneath him/her, but not partake in it. Also, the obvious question comes to mind that I haven't seen yet... why not promote yourself?

Let's think about this, if you're good enough to hire your own boss, you're good enough to be that guy, well betas excluded.

I've turned the opportunity down once (to become the boss), and I felt like I had a slew of good reasons, but I'll always wonder what if till it comes up again anyways. But... if somebody asked me to hire my own boss, I'd recommend myself and if not, I'd find another place to work. Under no circumstance do I want to hire then train a person who's going to be making more than me and telling me what to do, that has "not ends well" written all over it. Most management types are POS anyways.

Re:Ask him (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279179)

In answer to your question about "why not promote yourself", allow me to quote your own post

Managers should manage, coders should write code

Some people are comfortable and enjoy managing, others are comfortable and enjoy clacking on a computer.... myself being very much in the latter category. I absolutely can't stand the thought of managing a team and having to deal with interpersonal people problems and office politics, whereas instead I could just do what I love instead.

For some people, the ultimate goal of your work at a location isn't "make as much money as humanly possible", but instead "Enjoy what you do". There literally was an opportunity for me to apply for a management position. I didn't even slightly think about putting in my resume for it.

Why would I want to do a job where I'm going to be miserable? If I can currently feed, clothe, and shelter myself quite comfortably, what incentive do I have to be miserable for almost all of my waking hours for the next 3 or 4 decades, with the only payoff being able to feed, clothe, and shelter myself slightly fancier?

Sorry, I'd rather not spend the best years of my life deliberately making myself miserable.

Re:Ask him (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279671)

10 points for each buzzword? I'd only deduct 1 point for each buzzword, but my rejection threshold would be -5.

Oh - one more thing: (5, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#42278673)

Reject any management candidate who has job-hopping in their history. If they spent less than 2 years or so in their last three positions and the companies they worked for are still around, odds are good there's a reason behind all that shuffling, and it indicates that said manager never really got to know his or her team that well.

Re:Oh - one more thing: (3, Informative)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42278941)

Contractors are an exclusion to this, though often not managers, some project managers fall into this category. Coming on-site executing a successful project and then doing it again at a different site requires way more managerial skills and organization than a guy that's been getting fat at his corp for the last decade.

Be Scientific (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278357)

Is there an SI unit the pointyness of someone's hair?

Re:Be Scientific (4, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42278759)

There is an SI derived unit, the antidilbert. An antidilbert is measured in radians/gram, i.e. one radian of average pointiness per hair point for each gram of hairgel. This model has been criticized as not sufficiently accommodating managers who are simultaneously incompetent and trendy.

It depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278361)

Is she hot?

Re:It depends... (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 2 years ago | (#42278513)

You don't want that.

Sure, sounds like it'd be fun, sleeping with the boss and all. At least until you break up.

Re:It depends... (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about 2 years ago | (#42278963)

Well I don't know... might be worth it. How's your marketability? :)

What does an elderly boss taste like? (2)

drainbramage (588291) | about 2 years ago | (#42279617)

Depends.

don't worry about it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278365)

If you have to tip-top on thin ice that badly, it's probably not a great job. Just be polite and inquisitive!

Who's the boss? (3, Insightful)

rla3rd (596810) | about 2 years ago | (#42278367)

Ask him who's the boss? If he says you, give him a big thumbs up!

Re:Who's the boss? (4, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 2 years ago | (#42278425)

If he says Tony Danza, just get up and walk away.

Re:Who's the boss? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278591)

Clearly Mona is the boss.

Re:Who's the boss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278461)

What if he says Tony? Or Angela?

Re:Who's the boss? (4, Insightful)

shawnhcorey (1315781) | about 2 years ago | (#42278843)

Bruce [wikipedia.org] (who else?)

Re:Who's the boss? (1)

westlake (615356) | about 2 years ago | (#42279317)

Ask him who's the boss? If he says you, give him a big thumbs up!

Oh, God. No.

That will sink you both.

Social questions with a less emphasis on technical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278381)

I'd primarily focus on their management related skills with social / personality related questions. This will ultimately boil down to a test of their ability to accept others in their prescribed roles and hopefully not browbeat everyone to align with their form of thinking/management.

Use Yourself for an Example (5, Insightful)

cusco (717999) | about 2 years ago | (#42278395)

Give them an example of situations and ask how they would react. I would choose the biggest mistake that I've made at my current job, and the biggest accomplishment. Their reaction will tell them if you want to work with them supervising you or not. You needn't tell them that this is what you personally did, but you know what an appropriate response to the situation should be and can contrast it to what the actual response was at the time.

Re:Use Yourself for an Example (3, Insightful)

hellkyng (1920978) | about 2 years ago | (#42278785)

A similar strategy I use a lot of times is ask them a question they don't know the answer to. The purpose of the questions isn't to make them look bad, but to gauge their reaction. For example in some interviews I've asked "Can you define and explain the purpose of ASLR and DEP?" for a technical interview. The answer I'm looking for in this case is "I don't know, but I'll find out." But I've gotten people who got flustered, confused, and worst totally lied.

Its an interesting strategy I think to find someone with an open mind who can be honest with themselves. You also want to be prepared to provide the answer, and let them know "I didn't expect you to know that, its something you would learn or blah blah blah." Either way the reaction to tough questions is the most valuable tool I have as interviewer I think.

Re:Use Yourself for an Example (3, Interesting)

rcamera (517595) | about 2 years ago | (#42279063)

Seems like a bad example. Data Execution Prevention [wikipedia.org] and Address space layout randomization [wikipedia.org] are actually very important depending on your field...

Maybe the guy who "totally lied" knew what he was talking about and you didn't?

Re:Use Yourself for an Example (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 2 years ago | (#42279049)

Those are good questions. I've interviewed 'supervisors' as well in the past and mostly focused on organizational talents.

Ask them how they would handle a project falling behind schedule. Ask them about how they like to assign projects. Ask them about their philosophies on what to do when budgets are reduced. What their position is on overtime. Etc.

To the people who are responding "If it's not you quit" you clearly don't understand the role of a project manager--and how that's completely different from a development position. I've seen a lot of producers/PMs who made less than the people they supervised. Just because someone is in charge doesn't mean they're technically a more valuable or senior position.

Important question: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278401)

"On a scale of one to ten, are you a douchebag?"

Re:Important question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279175)

"One a scale of one to ten, a question with a yes/no answer."

My favorite questions for the boss (2)

hduff (570443) | about 2 years ago | (#42278421)

What is your management style?

What are your job priorities?

How do you think I can help you?

Take notes, because none of their answers will be truthful.

Re:My favorite questions for the boss (3, Funny)

hchaos (683337) | about 2 years ago | (#42278589)

"Based on what you know about me so far, and the fact that I'm a decision-maker in your hiring process, how much of a raise do you think I deserve right now?"

Subversivet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278839)

I like it!

Hi! I'm an MBA. I am a jerkwad that all of you hate.

I was a developer who went to the dark side.

Watch out for stupid questions.

If the questions don't pertain to the job - or the project - watch out.

Examples of incompetent management:

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

What are your passions? (Or questions along this line.)

Or any questions that questions your ability to do the job.

End stupid question examples

As an entrepreneur, I don't want passion. I want cold hard logic.

Passion is for your loved ones. I want cold logic.

Faking it for the job? OK. No problem. Do your job and STFU.

Thank you.

Re:Subversivet (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42279155)

As an entrepreneur, I don't want passion. I want cold hard logic.

Cold hard logic is how you do it. Passion is why you do it. If you don't have passion, you must have another motive for doing it (or otherwise the cold hard logic would tell you not to do it). However if you have primary motivation (i.e. passion) to do something, you tend to do better work than if you have only secondary motivation (e.g. you only do it to earn a lot of money). Also, if you don't have passion, you are more likely to leave early for a better job if things don't go well, while with passion, you are more likely to try to fix things.

Of course too much passion may also be bad, in that you might not be able to let a failed project end. As in most cases, both extrema are bad, and the best point is somewhere in the middle.

you are crazy (3, Insightful)

datapharmer (1099455) | about 2 years ago | (#42278431)

Don't hire your boss, find a different job! The idea that someone is qualified to hire their own superior is so asinine that it could only come out of a corporate red-tape nightmare so awful it is doomed to an epic fail. If the company had any idea about how to manage whatsoever then they would either have someone higher-up the ladder do the hiring or move someone qualified up from within. Run! Run now! Run fast!

Re:you are crazy (4, Interesting)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#42278549)

I disagree - and I'm in the same boat. We've had a few search cycles now, in our 3rd. First two ended due to a lack of qualified candidates.

Of our 8 person department, 2 of us are on the hiring committee. Other department chairs and AVPs make up the balance.

And yes, we need to be on the committee because we know what we do every day, and areas our prior boss both lacked and excelled in. We're hoping to keep the excelling part and get rid of the lacking part.

Re:you are crazy (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 years ago | (#42278761)

being part of a search committee is different than being the sole guy responsible for picking your boss.

Re:you are crazy (2)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#42279087)

Except the way we do it the committee does all the interviews, etc. and then sends forward a recommendation... if hte Big Boss agrees, the offer is made. The Big Boss doesn't see anyone we don't pass on to him/her.

Re:you are crazy (3, Informative)

Motard (1553251) | about 2 years ago | (#42278557)

He said interview, not hire. It's generally a good policy to get many people involved in the interviewing process.

Re:you are crazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278569)

...or you would be promoted to be the boss. If you're qualified to interview someone, then you are also good enough to be the boss.

Re:you are crazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278629)

Amen brotha, run like the wind out of there -

Re:you are crazy (5, Insightful)

JonniLuv (864539) | about 2 years ago | (#42278707)

Don't hire your boss, find a different job! The idea that someone is qualified to hire their own superior is so asinine that it could only come out of a corporate red-tape nightmare so awful it is doomed to an epic fail. If the company had any idea about how to manage whatsoever then they would either have someone higher-up the ladder do the hiring or move someone qualified up from within. Run! Run now! Run fast!

In converse, I'd say if you aren't qualified to interview a potential future manager, you have some serious deficiencies in life skills. This practice is against the status-quo of corporate red tape practices. Also in direct contradiction to your statement, I'd say that always having people higher up the ladder do the interviewing is one of the causes of hiring bad managers, and having direct reports participate in the process is part of a good solution the problem.

Re:you are crazy (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about 2 years ago | (#42278909)

Also in direct contradiction to your statement, I'd say that always having people higher up the ladder do the interviewing is one of the causes of hiring bad managers, and having direct reports participate in the process is part of a good solution the problem.

It's good not to just improve the evaluation process, but to start with buy in for the direct reports.

Re:you are crazy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278721)

If the company had any idea about how to manage whatsoever then they would either have someone higher-up the ladder do the hiring or move someone qualified up from within.

Says someone who thinks he is qualified to decide how upper management should handle hiring decisions, but isn't qualified to give an opinion on a possible new boss. Bonus points for jumping to the assumption that the new boss isn't being hired from within the company despite the complete lack of evidence that this is the case.

He's not being asked to hire his boss. He's being asked to interview his boss. This quite is different. Hiring someone who looks good on paper as a manager, but who will be intolerable to work for is a serious issue. Do you know of a better way to find out if the people the new boss will be managing will find said new boss intolerable? If so, please name it.

Details? (1)

mws1066 (1057218) | about 2 years ago | (#42278433)

You're very sparing with the details here. What do you do that is technical? If you're a sole technical person in a non-technical office, I assume this means you're IT. Why exactly are you interviewing someone to be your supervisor? How did this happen? Are you being forced to have a supervisor because management wants to reign you in? So many unknowns. Why wouldn't management make you the supervisor and get you to hire underlings if they feel they need more bodies? This reeks badly of a top-heavy organization.

How do you evaluate performance? (2, Insightful)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | about 2 years ago | (#42278455)

Do you evaluate performance based upon specific goals - that is, lines of code/subroutines/class modules/interfaces/boards/prototypes/thingamabobs built, or something more ethereal, like how well I kiss ass?

Suggestions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278479)

Pick a few and ask them to elaborate their role, what they did, etc regarding skills and experiences they list in their resume.
Ask them how their previous co-workers and subordinates would describe them.
Pick some scenarios you have encountered that you wish you had a supervisor to handle and ask the person how they would handle the situation.

You're in a hardplace - dude. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278487)

Anything else will be deemed as potential insubordination. It's a fine balance in appearing honest and not being insulting.

This is a really shitty position.

If they say that they want "Honesty" they are lying.

Go ahead you stupid fuck and tell me that folks want honesty! You dumb fucker!

See my point? I was too harsh, but I was trying to make a point.

Once you get past competency (2)

mooingyak (720677) | about 2 years ago | (#42278531)

The pain in the ass about interviews is that nearly everybody is looking to please, and trying their damnedest to give the answer that they think you want to hear.

So you need sort of roundabout ways to get to the questions you *really* want answered. But before you even get that far, you need to figure out what qualities you'd like to see in a boss.

For me at least, the ideal boss is:
1. competent
2. professional
3. willing to shield me from the political BS that is part of his job
4. knows when to leave me alone (most of the time) and when to get on my case (once in a while)
5. understands what I do and the value of it, even if he can't necessarily do it himself
6. knows what I'm better suited to accomplish than he is, and is willing to leave those tasks/decisions to me

There's more, but that covers a good chunk of the basics. That list might suit you, but then again you might have something totally different in mind. The important thing is to have some clue of what you're looking for first. As far getting to know whether or not a potential supervisor has these traits, the best generic way I know of is to ask about prior experience and how he's handled specific scenarios.

What are you qualified to evaluate? (5, Informative)

quietwalker (969769) | about 2 years ago | (#42278533)

I'm a software dev, and I could do a decent evaluation for anyone from architect down to data-entry, but I don't know that there's anything in my background or skill set that would mark me as being especially able to evaluate a manager based on their day to day duties.

That being said, what I could look for that's important for my manager to have that affects MY day to day duties - which is going to be the minority of what they do - is awareness of the technical processes, awareness of technical limitations, and a reasonable shot from the hip estimate of costs and risk they think a given task will require.

I have had managers who have asked me to get a remote server with no external access email us when they or their internet connection goes down. I've had folks who don't understand that if I push a change of a major subsystem directly into production after working on it for only a few hours, it could very well take down all customers. In many cases, these folks won't be able to justify or even consider the costs for refactors, or for separate test environments, but it's a little late after they've told their boss's boss they'll hit the deadline and now you're on the hook for it.

Beyond those things, just check to see if his management style gels with how your company like to work. Some folks like teams, some like seclusion. Some managers are hands on, some are hands off. Some like rigid project plans, others prefer desk drive-bys. Make sure that their style is good for your company, and for you.

What's the motivation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278535)

My big question is why are you having to interview the person whose going to be your direct supervisor? I would ask the person that the interviewee will report to what's the motivation for asking you to interview him/her. On a different note, did you yourself apply for this position, or wanted to apply for this position?

Re:What's the motivation? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42279395)

I'd guess the motivation is to find out whether he'd work well under that boss. If you absolutely can't stand your boss, your work will suffer, no matter how excellent you are otherwise.

However another possibility could be to prevent later complaints, since by participating in the selection process, you also participate in the responsibility for the outcome, and thus it's somehow also your fault if things don't work well later.

what's your fuckin' problem, mate? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 2 years ago | (#42278539)

What mental disability do you have that makes you think you're capable of micro-managing something that you have not comprehension of?

Re:what's your fuckin' problem, mate? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | about 2 years ago | (#42278653)

I have multiple personality disorder, and some of my personalities are very good at what you do.

Behavioral Testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278553)

I wouldn't ask questions, I would look for behaviors.

I've used this trick: take them to lunch. If their order is incredibly detailed and controlling -> major warning sign.

Now, pre-arrange for your server to screw up their order. If they are an absolute asshole at the server about it, and especially if they belittle the server, walk away. There's a good chance you have a sociopath on your hands.

It's important not to encourage or discourage them: let them demonstrate natural behaviors. An interview is an unnatural situation, and lots of people are highly trained to show their "nice" face. What you need to see is their natural behavior, because as your boss, that's the behavior you'll be facing when they're above you. A sociopath will only be nice to people who can benefit him or her, and your window of opportunity for that ends with your recommendation about hiring them.

get server to screw can end up very badly for all (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42278641)

get server to screw can end up very badly for all.

Let's say some has a allergic reaction and the server does not know that but does the screw up as part of the test .

Also some people have religion based dietary laws

Re:get server to screw can end up very badly for a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278919)

The screw up should be something like /forgetting/ a topping/side/etc. or /overcooking/ a steak then.

Re:get server to screw can end up very badly for a (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278949)

The point of the exercise isn't to trick the candidate into getting the wrong food, it's to see how they handle mistakes.

If they blindly trust that their directions were followed even if a failing could result in their death you don't want to hire them. So problem solved?

If they are cruel to the staff than they will likely be cruel to their subordinates and you don't want to hire them.

If they are too timid to speak up they will not be effective at their position and should not be hired.

If and only if they recognize the mistake, politely explain the issue and ask for it to be corrected, have they passed the test.

Re:get server to screw can end up very badly for a (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42279021)

The server isn't stupid. They know the difference between forgetting 'dressing on the side' and killing someone.

the question to ask is (2)

sdnoob (917382) | about 2 years ago | (#42278609)

why the fuck aren't YOU being considered for the position?

if you're qualified to interview and evaluate candidates for that position, you yourself must also be qualified -- even more so because you are already an employee there, know the company, its policies, procedures, customers and other workers.....

Re:the question to ask is (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#42278857)

Maybe the manager will be overseeing multiple departments, and the submitter only represents one department. Also, being good at following instructions is not equivalent to being good at delivering them and managing people. Also, maybe the submitter is; that was never ruled out. Also, maybe the submitter already turned down the position because of the stress, current commitment to work on certain projects, et cetera. There are plenty of reasons why an individual would be in this situation, and most of them are fairly obvious. You sound like you need a vacation, or a promotion, or both.

Re:the question to ask is (2)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 2 years ago | (#42279095)

The reason why most teams fails is because of culture issues, not technically issues. The wrong person can destroy a team just as well as a incompetent boss.

I assume the poster’s upper management only hires talented people and respects the poster’s opinion. I don’t see where the poster said they had decision making power or a veto. I assume that their opinion will be consider along with other factors.

One of my worst job experiences was with a highly competent accountant. She managed 14 accountants and 1 tech person – myself. The expectations that we set up for each other were radically different and we would talk past each other for hours on end.

Re:the question to ask is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279285)

Maybe the submitter is an IT guy but the boss is the office manager. So he has to do more than make sure the computers run. Also, not everyone wants their boss's job.

ask about outside interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278631)

Family, what town they live in, hobbies, vacations, favorite music, recreational reading.

This will generally take their guard down and can give clues about what their values are. Not just their literal answers, but how they present them and any which they give added emphasis. For example, if they keep bragging on a son for their athletic or academic achievements, this could be a competitive type who cares a lot about climbing the corporate ladder.

Re:ask about outside interests (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 2 years ago | (#42278957)

> Family

Minefield, and irrelevant to the job. You find out they have a same-sex partner, for example, don't hire them for some completely unrelated reason, and get sued.

> For example, if they keep bragging on a son for their athletic or academic achievements, this could be a competitive type who cares a lot about climbing the corporate ladder.

No, don't do this. Your inferences may be wildly off. You might hire a real slacker who is just really proud of his/her kids. Quit trying to be an amateur psychologist or detective. There are a lot of people who think they can do this sort of thing, and a lot of them are wrong.

Ob. Ted joke (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#42278661)

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"
"Doin' your wife."

not important (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42278681)

It might seem as a big thing now; but remember it is not important to have a good relationship with your boss. It is much more important to have a good relationship to the boss of your boss.

Have you ever been in a turkish prison? (1)

tresstatus (260408) | about 2 years ago | (#42278685)

Just ask all of the questions from airplane.

"Work to Live" or "Live to Work"? (1)

JD-1027 (726234) | about 2 years ago | (#42278699)

Figure out some questions to get an honest feel for what they enjoy besides their job. Do they "live to work" or "work to live"? Figure out which of those options applies to you and determine which you'd like more in a boss.

My current boss is way better of a technical manager than my last, but has no life outside of work. So while I have a much easier time agreeing on technical solutions than I did with my previous manager, my previous manager and I had the same feeling of "get out of work ASAP and enjoy life". While my new boss does everything she can to keep me at work to get as much out of me as possible.

Legality (1)

Ashenkase (2008188) | about 2 years ago | (#42278717)

What's out of bounds?"

I hope you have had a bit of training on the legal in's and out's of interviewing. Asking an illegal question in an interview can be a liability to the entire company. e.g.- How old are you, I noticed an accent, are you from Timbucktwo? Do you have any kids?

Depending on which state/province/country you live in the legal rules can be very different, brush up on them so you yourself don't get fired.

Where are we? (1)

bbands (1068870) | about 2 years ago | (#42278757)

Is /. becoming loaded with Dice.

Re:Where are we? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279713)

This post was removed due to Dice content standards violations.

Blackmail (1)

doginthewoods (668559) | about 2 years ago | (#42278779)

Pick someone you can blackmail...

PHB (2)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | about 2 years ago | (#42278787)

Ask him if he knows what is a PHB

Ask him this (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#42278869)

"A valuable employee leaves your group. You get a call from an employer verifying period of employment. What do you say?"

Follow up with: "An employee with unsatisfactory performance leaves your group. You get a call from an employer verifying period of employment. What do you say?"

I interviewed my previous boss... (5, Insightful)

DrewBeavis (686624) | about 2 years ago | (#42278889)

In my previous position, I wasn't on the committee, per se, but gave an operational tour to each candidate and tried to explain what we did and our job functions. One candidate didn't seem to pay much attention and was eliminated because he wanted too much money. Another candidate thought he knew more than I did about our operations since he had glanced at our website and walked around the building before the interview. The third candidate was able to understand what I was saying to him and asked good questions about what we did. This casual back and forth was helpful in assessing his demeanor and grasp of technology. He was a manager, so he wasn't actively managing servers and such, but knew what I was talking about and not just buzzwords. I was able to recommend him to the committee and I left his department seven years later with a good reference. Things that stand out to me about people, especially managers: proper dress, profanity during the conversation, excessive sarcasm, and any hints of poor anger management. I may be old school, but I want a manager that doesn't yell or swear at me during our interactions and isn't sarcastic.

Re:I interviewed my previous boss... (0)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#42279145)

Proper dress? Seriously? That's first on your list?

Hint: They sell suits to anybody with the money.

Casual fucking cussing is fine by me. The only real question is the 'Anger management' one. Which you will never get to during an interview anyhow.

Also note: Sarcasm. You do want a boss with a sense of humor and low tolerance for incompetence (assuming you are competent). Otherwise the god damn care bear will have you surrounded by air thieves.

Re:I interviewed my previous boss... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279239)

" Things that stand out to me about people, especially managers: proper dress, profanity during the conversation, excessive sarcasm, and any hints of poor anger management. I may be old school, but I want a manager that doesn't yell or swear at me during our interactions and isn't sarcastic. "

100% right. If I had moderator points, I would have marked your post Insightful.

Re:I interviewed my previous boss... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 2 years ago | (#42279579)

proper dress, profanity during the conversation, excessive sarcasm, and any hints of poor anger management.

So I get that proper dress would rule someone out as manager, just as profanity, excessive sarcasm and hints of poor anger management would? :-)

If they're threatened, you don't want them (3, Insightful)

clawsoon (748629) | about 2 years ago | (#42278929)

If a candidate finds technical questions threatening or condescending, you probably don't want them as your boss. You want someone who's okay with the fact that you have more technical knowledge than they do, but is still able to speak (and listen) intelligently about technical subjects.

How about... (1)

tompaulco (629533) | about 2 years ago | (#42278991)

How about "what makes you think that you would be better for this position?" or "Do you really want to work for a company that has no qualms about bringing somebody with no knowledge in to be a supervisor rather than promote someone from within?" After all, it may work out well this time for the interviewee, but the next outside placement they do may be HIS (or HER) boss.

I've done this before (2)

Ben4jammin (1233084) | about 2 years ago | (#42278999)

I was actually the only member of the IT dept in the interviews for our Director of IT position some years back. I was also the only person involved in the process that was not on the existing executive management team.
I think a lot of it depends on who else is in the room. If there are any other department heads involved, note closely their interaction with YPNB (your potential new boss). I found that to be quite telling in that you see what is important to them, and if YPNB has any intelligence, they will pick up on what is expected of them and what the others are looking for. By being involved in this, I was able to pretty much garner what projects we would be working on during the first 6 months after he was hired.

As others have stated, HR or someone else may run the show. The only thing you might want to consider is this: if YPNB requests a laptop or projector for any type of presentation, hook it up, but do something wrong (leave a plug loose etc). See how YPNB reacts to the unexpected and how the interaction goes when either they or you "fix" the problem. I don't know of any other way to really get a read, because any questions from HR (or you) are likely to be met with "correct" answers.

Also, with the boss I ended up with, we had a laptop setup and he wanted to show something off a thumb drive. At that time, the NIC port was wide enough that you could put a USB drive in it. He did. And so I went to the laptop, noticed what he did, and quickly put it in a USB port without saying anything. He showed his stuff, and ended up getting hired. He was nervous about the interview, but was very gracious about the whole thing. He is still my boss today (6 years later) and while not perfect, we could have done a lot worse. He was a unanimous choice (they even let me vote).

Do you read dilbert? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42279041)

Ask the boss that and if he does not say part of it are manual on what not to do.

the answer is "I don't know" (1)

spatley (191233) | about 2 years ago | (#42279053)

The trick to managing technical people is knowing what you don't know and allowing technical experts do their job without infuriating them with stupid questions.
-- ask some technical questions, make sure at least a few the candidate will not know the answer to. If they fake it rather than saying "I don't know" PASS
-- give a situation to deal with (the server is down) and ask "what do you want me to do?" if it is anything other than "fix it and let me know the details only after you are done" PASS

Here's one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279091)

Well, the first question is whether the person might be someone who could make your life miserable or not.

The person who would not might e.g. be a very caring, easygoing person who has no idea about computers but is fully prepared to let you do your stuff.

In that case you don't want to challenge them with technical or difficult questions, which might get their back up. So I think you should think about different types of questions you could ask to different types of people.

If it's someone intelligent/aggressive/experienced/hands-on who MIGHT make your life miserable, then how about:

"Okay, here is a difficult one. Let's say you come into the office and notice that the company webpage on www.____.com suddenly is not available. You ask me why that is. What do you think are some different answers I might give you, and how would you react to each?"

It's a tough nut and could potentially get the back up of someone who knows nothing of IT, but any answers would speak volumes.

Also it's important to know how important your input will be into the process. If you are the decision maker then you can afford to be a bit more direct and questioning than if (as I'm used to) the hire is already a done deal by upper ups.

Quit Now! (1)

endus (698588) | about 2 years ago | (#42279101)

Start looking for another job. In my experience having another manager come in to the group is always a disaster. I've never had it go well, and that's WITH new managers who seemed to think I was doing a great job.

Do you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279157)

Want to sell sugared water for the rest of your life? Or do you want to come with me and change the world?

list of questions (2)

HPHatecraft (2748003) | about 2 years ago | (#42279159)

Do you understand the acronym "PEBKAC"?
Connery or Moore?
Episodes IV-VI or I-III?
Shirt or skins?
Can I have a raise?
I said "CAN I HAVE A RAISE?"

Scenario Questions (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279185)

Ask scenario questions. Here's my favorite:

You're the new manager on a project, and the previous manager has moved on. It's a team of about a half-dozen programmers. The first release has gone out, and the software works, but a lot of corners were cut, and developers are having a hard time working around the existing architecture. One of the developers has re-factored a major part of the project, and by all accounts, done an excellent job, and it's made the other developers' lives much easier. On the other hand, this has caused him to be behind in his feature set, and it won't be able to make a previously set ship date, which is close enough that "just a lot of hard work" isn't going to be able to make it. He ran this refactoring past the other developers in the team, and they were for it, but he didn't run it past you. You're going to have to explain it to management, and get a delay from some major customers, who have been asking for the new release. The question is "What do you do?" It's a question of project discipline vs initiative. If the manager says, "I'll deal with the unpleasantness above, but I'll explain in no uncertain terms that he needs to communicate with me in the future when he wants to do something like this", it's probably a good balance. On the other hand, if he describes in loving detail about how he would destroy this person for disobedience, do what I did.

"This interview is terminated".

I did this once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279217)

The biggest mistake we made was not hiring someone who would go to bat for our department. Maybe I'm naive, but I was really hopeful we could find a manager who would represent OUR needs in management meetings, rather than HER needs. Half the staff in my department quit or were reassigned within a year, which is really saying something because we had an average length of service of over a decade.

Find a manager who will fight for YOU - for your projects, for your needs, for your funding, and who understands what you do well enough to convince other people that it's the most important thing in the organization. I would suggest asking them point blank for an example of a time in which the demands of management were in conflict with the needs identified by the department, and how he or she resolved the issue. Ask how s/he will promote the department's needs within the organization.

Also, I would suggest asking what strengths s/he feels may be lacking in your department, and how s/he will act to fill these gaps. You need to understand whether you'll be getting new co-workers, incentives for retraining, or whether you're going to get pushed out in favor of someone else who s/he feels better meets the department's needs.

Danger Will Rogers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279225)

I was in that position and the person who was finally hired was not my choice. Well he was told that he was not my choice and I eventually was forced out. Beware!

Undocumented time off (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#42279289)

Ask his position on "undocumented time off" :)

Watch "Step Brothers" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279305)

1. Go to the job interview scene and memorize
2. At your interview, re-enact verbatim
3. ?
4. Profit

pointed question (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#42279309)

You might ask how he feels about meaningless, "feel-good" management consultant-theater exercises like having a worker "interview" his own boss-to-be.

It'll be a good indication of how much time you're going to be wasting in meetings, "team-building" exercises, etc.

At most, all that's going to be accomplished by this nonsense is you getting a sense of just how much of a sociopath your new boss is going to be. Maybe you should ask him if he still wets the bed and sets small animals on fire.

Dilbert Character Association (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42279335)

Ask him with which Dilbert character he associates himself the most.

Time tracking (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | about 2 years ago | (#42279485)

I'd ask how they gauge productivity - particularly if you are an odd one out in a team. I'm in a similar situation where I do many things outside of my job role, and without my skills, so many projects and other tasks would have taken way longer if they happened at all. The difficulty though is in justifying my time further up the chain. That's why my manager worked with me to ensure she knows what I'm doing and why, and I know the kind of information she needs from me in order to explain how three days of my tinkering around leads to two weeks of time saved each quarter.

Bring examples of how your previous manager did things well - have the discuss these approaches. You want to be certain this person keeps you on your toes and will be your advocate to higher management.

Ask some technical questions (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | about 2 years ago | (#42279505)

Ask some vaguely technical questions. Yes, it's a bit of a trick question. If he starts coming up with elaborate and specific implementation details and other micromanagement, rather than a high-level understanding of the business constraints and risk assessment, who he would delegate to, and what requirements he would communicate, I'd be at least a little bit worried.

If I ask my manager what stance to take with sales data retention, he'll tell me the business policies and IT resource constraints that affect the decision. If I ask him how I should construct the database to keep the large historic data from impacting performance, he'll tell me that's what he hired me for.

Ask him (1)

dropadrop (1057046) | about 2 years ago | (#42279639)

- How he feels success in your field should be measured, what would be good indicators - What he thinks are positive and negative aspects about outsourcing whatever you do - Try to get a feeling if he will openly admit when he does not understand something, or rather act as if he understands

Two questions, three steps. (1)

drainbramage (588291) | about 2 years ago | (#42279659)

1: Is this being recorded?
2: Do you ever press charges?
3: Profit.

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