The 5 Signs You're Interviewing With an Overly Demanding Boss

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April 16, 2024 at 9:53AM UTC
Half of all Americans have left a job in order to "get away from a manager" at some point in their careers, according to a study from Gallup. It goes without saying that the quality of your manager can have a major impact on your happiness at work, and in your life overall. 
Unfortunately, most overly demanding bosses are able to camouflage their true nature during an interview process, leaving you unable to see their true colors until you're already working nights at their behest. While it can be tough to spot hyper-critical or stringent management styles from the outset, keeping your eyes and ears peeled for a few key things during the job interview can serve as a good predictor of just how demanding your prospective boss may be.

1. They're late for the interview — and don't apologize.

Meetings run over and time gets away from us; it happens. If the hiring manager is late for your interview and doesn't see a need to apologize for it, however, this could be a red flag that they expect employees to adjust to fit their needs by default.

2. You get the impression they're a micromanager.

Micromanagers are often perfectionists who have an inability to relinquish control of their vision, a dynamic that's a natural breeding ground for demanding behavior. If the hiring manager is careful to repeatedly state their close involvement with Team X or Project Y, and if the nature of their involvement sounds like more than the supervisory position it perhaps should be, this could be a warning sign.

3.  The role you're interviewing for feels high stakes, yet the vision of what success in it looks like remains unclear.

One form of being overly demanding is in expecting high returns from an employee without being able to articulate what success for their role ultimately looks like. If, by the end of your interview, you've heard plenty about the specific tasks needing to be accomplished but nothing about bigger picture success and how the role ultimately intersects with the organization's goals, it could mean the hiring manager is out of touch with those goals. And yet, they expect a long to-do list out of you regardless. 

4. They check their email or text messages during your interview.

Being willing to do this clearly goes against the grain of decent behavior. But the problem here could extend beyond decency. If the hiring manager is willing to appear rude in order to stay as plugged-in as possible, it could mean that they expect (or demand) this degree of responsiveness from employees, too.

5. They seem to take pride in how much the team is producing, instead of what they're accomplishing.

If much of their language regarding team success revolves around the quantitative goals being hit — and no mention is made of more qualitative impacts or measurable — it could be that the hiring manager places an unhealthy importance on production for production's sake. And oftentimes, that can result in a dynamic of too many demands with too few justifications.  

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