How To Find Good Bosses

Photo by Yan Krukov at

In a letter to me, a jobseeker said she believed she had discovered the types of bosses and company environments where employees are treated well and will be happy in their jobs.

She said the best bosses she worked for were entrepreneurial types who own small companies and were involved with the employees and do the work, while the worst she’s had to deal with were small business owners who were removed from the office and the actual work, and who delegated their power to their secretaries or assistants.

Why the worst? These bosses avoid managing and don’t want personal interactions with employees so they can be the good guy when they make decisions employees won’t like, she explained. They can play the blame game: The boss blames the assistant, and the assistant blames the boss but will never stand up for the employees because all they care about is being above the employees.

The assistants, impressed with their undeserved power, are worse than the real boss.

“I’m making a list of questions to ask about the company culture and environment when I interview for new jobs, including if the boss works at the office most days and interacts with the employees,” she wrote. “I will make sure to never again work for a boss who hides behind a secretary or assistant.”

This jobseeker seemed to have a plan to protect herself from a company with an objectionable environment and a controlling employee who inappropriately hovers over you.

Generally, you won’t be able to protect yourself from everything you dislike, but everyone should have a list in mind of reasonable questions to ask the interviewer.

  1. Research the company so you do not ask questions you could have learned the answers to online through the company website and news articles.
  2. Listen carefully to the information given when the interviewer introduces the company to you.
  3. Be sure not to ask questions with a negative tone in your voice. Word your questions as though you are gathering information about the job, whether the procedures are established and if the boss is open to suggestions for streamlining procedures or potential changes. That will let you know if the boss is rigid and controlling.
  4. Be sure not to expose your negative experiences at other companies, specifically regarding bosses who delegate authority over employees to other employees. It may help to tell stories of your bad experiences at work to your friends, just as a way of releasing those thoughts and your anger about it.
  5. Be positive in your responses. An interview question could be, “What did you least like about your past job?” The interviewer may want to see if you have the sense not to speak of anything negative. It will hurt you to bring your past disappointments with you to a new job, so say, “I loved my job. I am looking for a company to grow with.”

Everyone has worked with jerks at one time or another, so smile and be positive. Experience is often necessary, but people hire people they like.