Assessing the boss before accepting your next security management job

How do you recognize whether a company has good management during your job search?

Recently, I was speaking with a corporate security manager and he shared with me that he had accepted a job only to find out a few months into it that the management team was not what he thought it was during the interview process. He asked me how to better asses this important role properly for future reference. I will share with you what I told him; “Working for good management is essential to your job success, mental health and happiness at work.  However, it is hard to decipher whether a company has good management during your job search since you are an outsider .”  This advice is especially true if you are not working with a recruiter who knows the firm well or do not have some other reliable source to offer you quality insight.

While you can never know for sure before you start work at a company, here are 5 ways to try to figure out your potential boss or management team during the interview process. Before you start, you must define what good management means to you – what’s the most important – clear management structure, not a micro-manager, you having authority and responsibility, etc… Once you have a clear prioritized list, the following tips will help you uncover information to make a good judgment during job search.

1.     Do a LinkedIn search on the Management Team – Look at their profile, experience, educational background, and really read and decipher their recommendations. It’s good news when your direct boss has at least one of two recommendations from team members about her great management style. Also see if you are indirectly connected to any of them. If any of them are on your secondary network, you can ask a trusted direct connection about that person’s management style. Do this only if you have a good relationship with your direct connection who knows that person.

2.     Assess management style and structure during your interviews – Did you feel rapport and chemistry with the manager and the senior people that interviewed you? Did you respect what they asked of you? You can ask questions regarding how the organization is structured and what success in your position looks like to indirectly analyze what it may feel like to work there. Red flags are if you need to report directly to one boss but have dotted lines to at least one other person. That makes management complicated and you potentially  have at least two bosses. It may still work out, but chances for one of them to not be a good manager is much higher. You can also ask your potential manager about his or her management style. Examples include, how often and in what manner do they communicate with the person in the role you are applying for? Also ask them to describe their decision making style or process.

3.     Ask scenario questions after you receive an offer – While you cannot always be too probing during the interviews, once you get an offer, you can tactfully ask more detailed questions. If you have a particular situation in mind where your last company handled it badly, set up a follow up call with your potential boss or a senior management person and pose the scenario as a hypothetical situation and ask how it would be handled in this company. Be diplomatic – be sure not to bad mouth your last company.

4.     Ask future peers about their experience there – Sometime your future peers also interview you or you can ask to talk to some of them. In this case, during the interview or after getting an offer, get their perspective about what they do or don’t like about working there. Ask for their viewpoint around the management style and company culture.

5.     Get third party assessment and former employee opinions – If the company is large enough, then the internet will offer resources which will allow you to do some free and some paid (if you wish) research to find reviews. Also see if they are listed by Fortune as one of the top 100 companies to work for. Lastly, do a LinkedIn search of people who used to work for the company and see if you can ask for the inside scoop from any contacts you may know. You should definitely be able to get the good, bad, and the ugly that way…hopefully, more good than bad.


At the end of the day, whatever portion of your assessment is based on the above tips, it is still an interpretation. You won’t actually know whether the company really does have good management the way you hoped until you work there. The good news is every time you do job search, you will get better at assessing this. Good luck with your job search.


Your comments: Can you think of any other ways to assess the management team from the outside?


Like this blog? Then help me and share it on Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere.

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

Hello, feel free to send us a message about your search needs.