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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

3 Questions to Ask Yourself if You're Turning Down a Great Job Because the Boss Seems Awful

You just received an offer for the job of your dreams. Congrats!

There’s only one catch—you loved everything about the position, except for the person you’d be working for. And that’s a big deal since you’ll be working alongside him or her every single day. While you really want to say yes, you’re hesitating because your gut is telling you to say far away from this manager.

While it’d be unfair to tell you to stop trusting your instincts, I’ve learned that many conclusions you jump to about a person during an interview aren’t always accurate. So, before you make the mistake of ruling out a position because of reasons that don’t actually exist, here are three questions you should ask yourself:

1. Am I Comparing This Person Too Much to My Current Boss?

If you’re currently counting down the days until your manager takes that three-week vacation, you’re probably at the point where everything he or she does bothers you. After all, you spend more time working with your boss than you spend with your own best friends. And because you work so closely together, the impression your he or she leaves on you is pretty hard to shake.

Therefore, it’s only natural that when you’re meeting with someone who you might report to, you compare that person to your supervisor. And if you aren’t exactly thrilled with that relationship right now, anything that reeks of similarity is going to make you feel “uncomfortable” during an interview.

So, when you have that “I can’t work for this type of person ever again” feeling, it’s important to narrow it down and figure out what exactly is bothering you. Did she mention that she likes to check over all your work twice before you submit it—and that reminded you of your overbearing supervisor? If so, then it’s fair to pass on this position. But if it’s a parallel as inoffensive as her saying “I’m addicted to my productivity apps” that ticks you off, then you need to step back and decide if you’re being overly critical.

2. What Am I Really Looking for in a New Boss?

This is something I personally haven’t thought about until recently. In the past, I generally felt pretty good about an interview if I thought I did a good enough job of selling myself to the hiring manager. Yet, at the same time, I often felt uneasy about the idea of working for most interviewers, and I couldn’t figure out why. Now, several positions later, I’ve pinpointed the issue. And that’s that I respond best to a specific management style. So anyone who didn’t sound like he or she would be able to manage me in that way gave me that pit in my stomach.

As cheesy as this might sound, I’d encourage you to spend some time thinking about the type of manager you want to work for. Of course, it’s important to temper your expectations and remember that you’ll need to have uncomfortable conversations with anyone you report to over the course of your career. However, having even a vague idea of your ideal manager will help you understand why you’re jumping to conclusions, as well as when you should really listen to your intuition.

3. Would I Feel Good About Working for Anyone Right Now?

I was a full-time freelancer for a year, so I understand the freedom that comes with not officially having a boss. I also understand how difficult it can be to wrap your mind around the idea of reporting to someone again, even when a job you’re up for is pretty much awesome. Whether you’re currently freelancing, are unemployed, or simply aren’t getting along with your current boss, it’s important to consider if a hiring manager is giving you a “funny feeling” because you just don’t want to work for anyone.

As good as your gut feeling is on certain occasions, make sure any knee-jerk reactions you have to a potential new boss aren’t being influenced too heavily by your desire to set your own schedule, wear gym shorts while you’re working, and in general not have someone supervising you at all. For some people, being your own boss is an option. For (most) others, it’s not—and you’re going to have to accept that you will have a manager who will ask you to do things.

Deciding whether or not you want to work for someone is tough. And sometimes, the first impression someone gives you is spot on. But, to make sure you’re not missing out, ask yourself these three questions before jumping to conclusions. Because it’d be a shame to keep someone great like you out of your dream job because you were overly critical of a person you barely know.

Photo of woman thinking courtesy of Shutterstock.