Not Montgomery Burns – How to Spot a Good Manager in a Finance Interview


Let’s face it, there’s a lot of truth in the saying that people quit their managers, not their jobs. A great manager can be a mentor and an inspiration. A poor leader, on the other hand, can be a nightmare for team productivity and culture. Ideally, before you ever sign on the dotted line, you’d know whether your future manager will be an Obi-Wan Kenobi, or a Montgomery Burns.

Pre-Interview Correspondence
How did your future manager interact with you prior to your interview? Emails and phone calls can be very revealing. Were they respectful? If they set up a phone meeting, were they on time? Were they helpful? If you identify a red flag behavior, don’t ignore it. 

Before the interview starts do they make an effort to put you at ease and build rapport? A good manager is a strong relationship builder. 

Body Language
Much of our communication is non-verbal. This makes it particularly important to read your future manager’s body language. Is it open? Do they meet your eyes? Do they nod when you speak and make an effort to be engaged by demonstrating active listening? Look for a relaxed and confident body language.

Pro Tip: Great communicators listen more than speak. To tell if your boss is an active listener, look for the signs laid out in this article.

How someone asks questions can be very revealing. An individual who is a strong communicator will be clear and direct. Their questions won’t be vague or confusing. If their interview questions are puzzling, or their explanations about the role or your duties unclear, consider it a red flag.

What Questions Can Tell Us:

  • Questions that are not directly related to work may indicate a boss who is likely to care about you as an individual
  • Questions about your volunteer work, or natural working style indicate a boss who values teamwork and the mix of the individuals he or she is hiring
  • If they ask your opinion, or solicit feedback on initiatives you’ve participated in, they may be assessing your leadership potential. It can also be indicative of a boss who offers autonomy and is comfortable delegating

Gauge Interest
Are they genuinely interested in your answers? Do they demonstrate passion when they speak about the job and company? Do they seem particularly engaged when you become enthusiastic? If the answer is “yes” to all questions, you will likely have a manager who can inspire you.

One sign of a good manager is how prepared they are for the interview. The interview should reveal that the manager has taken the time to review your resume and knows something about you. 

How well a manager answers your questions in an interview can indicate what they might be like on a daily basis. Are they clear? Succinct?  Do you feel that your question was adequately answered, or that you need to follow up? You need a manager who is willing to answer questions, and take the time to ensure you understand what must be accomplished.

Pro Tip: Ask your future manager what they like most about their job. It will help you to understand what makes them tick, and give you a sense about their core values and passion for their profession.

ReadTop Questions to Ask in a Finance Interview” for a list of questions that will help you get the answers you need to determine if a role (and a manager) are a fit for you.

Key Takeaways
Interviews are two-way street. Both parties should be determining fit on both a technical and cultural front. Evaluating your future manager is a necessary part of this process. Look for a manager who is prepared for the interview. Assess their communication style and passion for their role. Determine if they are willing to take the time to answer questions thoroughly. Fundamentally, you want your future boss to be someone who inspires you, not frustrates you. How he or she behaves in the interview can offer insight into what they might be like on a daily basis.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

Clarity Recruitment, connecting exceptional people with remarkable companies.

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