Poor Working Relationship with your Boss

Poor Relationship
It may be the reason you are looking for another job in the first place – you and your
current boss do not work well together.
  And good for you for taking charge of the
situation to find something that is a better fit for you.  But how do you approach this
situation so it will not hinder your chances at a new company?  There are a few steps you
should take first and you need to mind what you say during the interview.

A lot of interviews will contain at least one question about your working relationship
with your current boss.  They can take many forms and you should prepare for a lot of
different types of questions that may be asked.  No matter what the question, even if it is
one asking you to describe conflict with your boss, be positive and do not bash anyone in
your answers. 

Remove any emotions from the equation and explain the situation using the facts and
highlight all of the professional steps you have taken to rectify the situation.  Don’t try
and make your boss sound like the bad guy, and try to de-emphasize the entire event.  It
may seem like an opportunity to vent about the situation but if you do, your are cutting
off an avenue to escape the working relationship you want to get away from.  Present the
facts, be neutral and highlight your problem-solving skills.

If you are concerned that your current boss will sabotage your efforts to find another job
during the reference check stage you can solve this in a couple of ways.  If your boss is
reasonable and the two of you just don’t work well together, chances are you don’t have
to worry too much.  Be sure to give him or her a heads up though.  If you aren’t
comfortable with this, try and find another manager that you have worked for in the
company previously that you can pass on as a reference.

Preparing for a Job Interview

It is completely natural to feel nervous before a job interview but you can minimize pre-
interview jitters with some preparation.  Hopefully you have completed initial research
on the company you applied for before being called in for an interview but you are going
to need to do more.  You will never know exactly what is going to be asked of you
(unless you have an inside source), but you can be ready for the questions by knowing
your stuff.

Look up the company website and study the history, about us page, and the products and
services that are offered.  Even if you are pretty sure you are not going to be quizzed on
how the company came to be, it will give you insight into how the company operates and
their philosophy.  By of these factors should influence how you answer your questions. If
it is obvious they place high value on team players, you should brainstorm situations
when you have displayed this trait. 

If you are applying for a sales position, you can be prepared for any role playing
questions because you have taken the time to learn the company’s products and services. 
It will be impressive to your interviewer that you have taken the time to research the
information.  It shows a commitment to details and a true interest in the company.

Another way to prepare for an interview is to complete a practice run with a friend or
family member.  Have them ask you questions and answer them as if you were already in
the interview, don’t break character during the role play either.  There are many questions
that are asked in a typical interview (what are your strengths and weaknesses) don’t let
them come as a surprise to you – practice so you can answer with confidence.

Procedural Questions

Procedures are a part of life, especially in the working world.  Each company has their
own set of policies and rules that they expect their employees to follow.  An interviewer
is going to ask questions to determine if you would do things they way they want (for
instance making a sale or handling a customer complaint).  Without training, you will not
know with any degree of certainty how the company would want you to handle different
situations but there are ways to answer that can increase your chances of getting the job.

What an interviewer is looking for in an answer is your philosophy towards
circumstances that occur in the company.  Your natural instincts and personality is going
to come through at some point no matter what you have been trained to do.  Questions
like, “How would you satisfy a customer if they wanted to return something after the
return policy has expired?” can be tricky to answer.  The best way to answer them is to
begin with saying, “Of course, if hired I would abide by the company’s guidelines – but
in this circumstance I would…”

By starting your answer with this phrase you are showing that you recognize a company
is going to have its own policies and ways of doing things and that you are flexible
enough to modify your way of doing things to align with those processes.  Even role
playing scenarios for are a test to see if your way of thinking is in line with the
company’s.  This genre of question can backfire on you though if your answer is
completely opposite what the company is looking for.  If you have done your research on
the company prior to the interview you should have a good idea of how they handle
customers and sales in general. 

Put a Positive Spin on Everything

A potential employer wants to hire people with a positive attitude.  You should project
this image in your demeanor, facial expressions, and most importantly in the content of
your answers.  You may be the strongest candidate that the interviewer has seen but you
still will not get the job if you are negative and insult former bosses or co-workers.

The best way to do this is to put a positive spin on all of your answers.  Many interviews
will include a question along one of these lines:

*    Have you had a challenging relationship with a co-worker or boss?  Tell us about
*    What conditions in a workplace make it hard to do your job?
*    How can people tell when you are in a bad mood at work?

Really, all of these are trick questions.  Yes, the interviewer really does want to know
how you have handled conflict in the workplace and how you deal with a bad day at
work.  But, they want to see if you can explain this without talking negatively and show
that you can problem solve your way out of certain situations.  Even if you have a great
story to tell about you and a co-worker, unless you handled yourself as professionally as
possible and the story portrays you in a positive light do not tell it.

If an interviewer asks how co-workers or customers can tell if you are in a bad mood,
there is only one right answer, “They can’t.”  You can (and should) elaborate on this, but
by answering the question in this vein you are showing that you can leave personal
problems and stresses outside the workplace without them affecting your job or others.

Be the kind of person that people want to hire, realistic with an attitude of getting along
with others and the ability to get a job done.

Responding to Taboo Questions

Not all interview questions are acceptable.  There are certain topics that should not be
brought up and information that a potential employer has no right asking for.  Some of
these questions are not legal and others while legal may leave you feeling uncomfortable. 
You do not have to answer certain questions, but how you let the interviewer know this
can determine if your application will continue forward.

For more information on questions that should not be asked or that you do not have to
answer, contact your local government office that handles labor relations.  They can
provide these guidelines to you at no charge.  If questions are being asked about your
private life (and you are uncomfortable answering them), you do not have to.  You can
mildly tell the interviewer that you plan on devoting the time you spend at work to work
and your personal life stays in your personal life.  And try to leave it at that.  If the
interviewer keeps pressing, you will have to decide if the job is worth it to you.

It is your decision to provide the information you do – know your rights beforehand – but
you can still decide to answer a question that should not be asked.  Keep in mind that if a
potential employer wants details about how you spend time outside of work it may be
because they expect their employees to put in a lot of extra hours and they are trying to
gauge if you have commitments that would prevent you from doing this.

Other questions, such as sexual orientation, past relationships, and other lifestyle choices
have no business in an interview setting.  If there is a physical aspect to the job and a
medical evaluation is necessary, this is typically done by a doctor or other medical
professional who will give you clearance.  You do not have to provide details to the

The Panel Interview

An interview is stressful; you are on display and have to sell yourself as the best
candidate for a position in a company.  The only thing worse than an interview is the
panel interview – when two or more people are asking you questions and watching your
every move.  This situation may not intimidate everyone, but it is certainly not a
comfortable position to be in.

The reason for a panel interview is to get the opinion of multiple people at the same time
on the viability of a work candidate.  Typically the people that attend are from various
departments within the company – a representative from human resources and the
department that is hiring at a minimum.  This saves time and money for the company and
lets them see how the candidates react under pressure.

When you are listening to questions during a panel interview, maintain eye contact with
the person who is speaking.  Once the question has been asked, make sure to address your
answer to all who are present.  Make eye contact with everyone and include them in your
attention.  Be prepared for follow-up questions from any or all of the attendees.  Each one
is going to want to know information from an angle that will directly affect their

You may find that in some panel interviews, only one person does the talking and
everyone else is there simply to observe.  Still address all of your comments to the group
and don’t let this unnerve you.  It is definitely stressful, but not unusual.  Be flattered that
they consider you a strong enough candidate to gather more than one person to evaluate
your interview and choose you to work for the company.  An interview is an investment
for a company, an expenditure of money in the form of salaries; you are there because
you have a chance at the position so take advantage of the opportunity.

What to Wear to a Job Interview

Possibly even more stressful than the questions you are going to have to answer, you are
going to have to find the perfect outfit to wear to a job interview.  You want to look
professional and like you are going to fit in with the company.  A good rule of thumb for
men is that you can’t overdress for the interview – shirt and tie or a suit is always a safe
choice.  For women, picking the clothes is more challenging.

For both men and women, pick an outfit that you feel comfortable in and that fits you
properly.  You don’t want pants that are too tight or a shirt that is too snug across the
chest.  It will be a distraction for both you and your interviewer.  Along the same vein,
pick colors that suit you but aren’t too bright or patterns that are overly bold.  You want
the focus to be on your answers, not what you are wearing.

Remember too that your overall appearance is going to be judged, and this includes more
than the clothes you are wearing.  Hygiene and grooming: be clean, neat and tidy.  It is
probably best not to wear a strong scent – chances are you will be in a small room and it
could make others uncomfortable.  Your finger nails should be short and clean, your hair
clean and tidy, and have mints with you or brush your teeth immediately before leaving
for the interview.

You may wonder what all of these details has to do with your qualifications and getting
the job.  It has to do a lot with it, especially if you are going to be dealing with the
company’s customers face-to-face.  The company will want to hire employees who are
going to represent the company in the best possible light.