How to Do a Reference Check on Your Future Boss

How to Do a Reference Check on Your Future Boss

Categories: Job Search

You’ve probably heard that the interview process is as much about you asking questions and determining your fit for the role and company as it is about the hiring committee evaluating you. Could the same idea follow through to reference checks? You fully expect a future boss to do a reference check on you, so why wouldn’t you do a reference check on your future boss as well?

The idea may not be as crazy as you might think. In fact, even the Harvard Business Review has talked about the benefits of checking up on a potential boss before accepting an offer of employment. Here’s why you should consider checking up on your future boss and, more importantly, how to go about getting it done.

Why You Should Do a Reference Check on Your Future Boss

There are plenty of reasons to conduct a reference check on your future boss. Just as you should check into the company you’re targeting, the people who work there are the lifeblood behind its culture. And the leader of the team is who typically sets the path. The more you know about that person, the better. Doing a little digging can help illuminate various aspects about the company and its leaders that will be important for helping you make a decision about accepting a job offer.

Understand the Company Culture

Sure, the company itself has a culture, but the way the boss interprets that is paramount to its implementation and feel to the employees on the team. His or her leadership style and values can influence the culture of the team, certainly, if not the entire organization. By gaining an understanding of your future boss’s leadership approach and abilities, you can determine if you’ll be a fit with the team.

Get a Sense of the Work Environment

Having a great culture is one (important!) thing, but what about the day-to-day operations? That’s what the work environment is, and the leader of the team plays a pivotal role in shaping that work environment. A positive and supportive manager can make work a place you love to be, while one who’s toxic, disengaged, or just downright mean can send you packing before you’ve even earned your first vacation days.

Determine the Potential for Growth

Good bosses support their employees; great bosses cheer them on even when it means their best next move doesn’t benefit the company. Conducting a reference check on your future boss will tell you if he or she will provide opportunities for advancement and become a mentor in your professional life. It will also illuminate the other side: a manager who has a stranglehold on the team and doesn’t want them to advance for fear of losing them.

Find Out If You’ll Be Happy at Work

While there’s no way to definitively tell if you’ll be happy in your new work home, by learning more about your new boss beforehand, you can determine if you’ll fit well together. The more harmonious your relationship is, the more successful and fulfilling your career will be.

How to Conduct a Reference Check on Your Future Boss

ways to conduct a reference check on your future bossHopefully, you’ll agree that learning more about your future boss before accepting a job offer is beneficial. There are several ways to secure the information you want to know, with two of the key approaches being:

  1. Ask your potential manager directly, during your interview.
  2. Leverage LinkedIn. You can conduct high-level searches to meet the right people who can share insights.

Here are some specifics about how, when, and to whom to direct your questions—as well as some key questions to ask.

Talk to Former Colleagues

One of the best ways to gain insight into the personality and leadership style of your future boss is by asking people who worked with him or her directly. To find them, you can do a search on LinkedIn, or you can ask your potential manager for references (at any point in the interview process). Once you find the right people, some questions you may want to ask include:

  • What was your experience like working with this person?
  • What caused you to leave that position and where are you now in your career?
  • Was he or she (your potential boss) supportive of opportunities for professional growth and development?
  • How collaborative was the team when you worked there?

You can probably think of more questions depending on your referral’s direct relationship to the manager, as well as topics specific to your industry.

Ask Questions in the Interview

There may be no better source for doing a reference check on your future boss than the boss him or herself. If you are afforded the opportunity to do a group interview with your boss and other key leaders, that’s an ideal time to ask questions. Keep them all positive, of course, and provide other employees with the opportunity to answer what they like about working there. Some questions to consider include:

To the leader directly:

  • How would you define your leadership style?
  • How do you support your team’s professional development?
  • When you’ve worked with successful employees, what do you think contributed to their success?

To the team:

  • What are the best aspects of working in this environment?
  • How would you define the leader’s managerial style?
  • How would you describe the team dynamics here?

These questions—and others you can surely think of—show your genuine interest in the role and the team while providing you with valuable insights into your potential boss’s management approach.

Are You Ready to Complete a Reference Check on Your Future Boss?

In today’s competitive job market, finding the right position at the right company isn’t just about the role and compensation; it’s also about the people you’ll be working with, especially your future boss. Doing your due diligence to learn more about your potential team and leaders is just part of setting yourself up for success in this next chapter of your career. There’s a lot of research and work involved in finding a new position, but that’s because where you land is vitally important, so it makes sense to go the extra mile.

At Resume and Career Services, we are invested in your success. Not only can you work with us directly, but you can also take a glimpse at some of our training on our YouTube channel. With a little guidance and support, we know you’ll find the success you desire.