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Interview, gauge possible abusive/aggressive personality?

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Jignesh Patel


( 5 months ago )

I currently work with a boss who is very verbally abusive, aggressive, creates drama and scandals every day, shouts at employees, diminishes the complexity or time it takes to do a certain task (I work in a software-related field, my position is technical, I’ve been with this boss and team for a year now). He is also very disorganized, forgets that he asked me NOT to do X two weeks ago, and now he shouts at me why did I not do X, am I even using my head etc. If I dare to suggest ideas, I am shouted at, told these ideas are a waste of time, I am also told that doing trainings and seminars is a waste of time, that I should not read research papers and instead go for the “low-hanging fruit”, but then I’m criticized about why X isn’t performing perfectly, etc. So I "secretly" implement my ideas, then show ready results. My ideas are then incorporated in our project as improvements, but I'm nevertheless treated very poorly and constantly receive passive aggression or verbal abuse.

Before you ask, I have talked to his boss, and things changed for maybe two weeks, and then my boss went back to his old abusive self. So I think this won’t change. I also tried to switch internally, but I was told the project I am in is too important for the company, therefore they won’t let me switch teams.

As a result, I am looking for a new employment opportunity. However, I am afraid that I might make the same mistake and choose a bad employer. How can I prepare for an interview, in other words - what kind of questions could I ask, or what should I look out for, what can I say or do to get a feeling or understanding about what kind of person is on the other side of the interviewing table? How can I find out during an hour-long interview whether a potential employer is also similar to my current boss?

This is my first job and I am not so experienced with figuring out personalities at a glance. I would be grateful for any opinions and pointers.

Atul Kasana


( 5 months ago )

I agree with @newguy, it's hard to gauge things from the interview, but here are some red flags.

  • Does the interviewer spend more time talking or listening?
  • If cut off or interrupted (sometimes happens in a lively discussion) how do they react?
  • Do they boast or focus solely on productivity and the 'focus' of the team?
  • If they take you through the area where people are working, do you see any smiles?
  • Pre-interview - do they have any/many negative comments on glassdoor or other business sites. Some good googling on the company/division may turn up some dirt, but companies are getting much better at cleaning up things like that.

Some Questions to ask that may or may not get some extra information at the end:

  • What is the turnover rate for the company (or department/division if not a technology company) and the particular area you're being hired into?
  • Asking the interviewer (better if one or more will be peers) why they enjoy working for the company.
  • Ask them to describe the company culture.

If a company really wants you they will try and sell the company as a great place to work as hard as you are trying to sell yourself as a great person to work there. Asking open ended questions can sometimes open a window into the things that the interviewers and the company find most important. If it is all about product, money, and drive, then there may be more reward for being a toxic manager.

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