How to know if you’re compatible with your manager during an interview

The process of building a career in an industry that fulfills you, ignites your creativity, and pads your bank account isn’t always easy. And if you ask most people, it’s a lot like dating — with some killer home-runs and major disappointing duds.

At the core of a successful and happy marriage and professional trajectory is one keyword: compatibility. This includes the work you’re doing, but also the culture, the vibe and of course, the person leading you through the trenches.

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Logging long hours next to a negative nelly, someone who doesn’t support your ideas or a lazy higher-up can dramatically impact your life — in and out of the office.

“When you don’t see eye-to-eye with your manager and you cannot find an effective and constructive way to communicate with each other, it can spell disaster for your career at that company,” explains career expert Amanda Augustine. “If you and your manager don’t get along, chances are you won’t advance as quickly: professional-development opportunities, promotions, and raises are less likely to be offered.”

But when you’re interviewing for a new gig, it isn’t always easy to fully understand if you and your could-be manager are a fit from one in-person meeting.

Luckily, career experts with major investigative skills share the good — and the bad — signs.

Good sign: The typically awkward small talk doesn’t feel awkward.

You know the feeling when you walk into a first date — and you amp yourself up, trying to come up with something interesting to say?

You probably do the same for an interview for a gig you’re excited about. Small talk — while annoying for most — is an expected part of the beginning stages of any new interaction. Augustine says this routine chit-chat can be nerve-wracking and downright awkward at times. So when it doesn’t feel strange — but relaxed? Enjoyable even? You’re onto something.

“If you found it was fairly comfortable making small talk with the hiring manager during an interview, take it as a good sign,” she continues. “This usually means that your personalities and communication styles complement one another.”

Bad sign: You keep getting interrupted.

When you’re in the middle of a story and your pal cuts you off to interject their own experience in Hong Kong, you roll your eyes. Or when your partner *lovingly* explains how to reload the dishwasher for the tenth time, without letting you finish telling him or her about your day … you storm off in a huff.

You probably shouldn’t walk out of an interview, but if the hiring manager interrupts you more than twice as you attempt to respond to their questions — career expert Elizabeth Whittaker-Walker says it’s a bad sign.

“Regular interruptions may signal that your communication styles are painfully different. This doesn’t automatically mean that the relationship won’t work, but it could mean that you’ll spend more time than you want to clarifying intentions or feeling unheard,” she explains. “Strong communication is a critical component of a positive working relationship. Use your interview cycle to assess your ability to communicate effectively with one another.”

Good sign: You feel respected and valued

The next time you walk out of an interview, do a quick audit of how you’re feeling. Are you happy? Excited? Do you feel confident, valued and respected? If you’re nodding along, Whittaker-Walker says you might have found a great fit with a supportive boss.

“Some managers know how to make their team members feel like they can conquer the world. Self-efficacy is a key indicator of performance potential,” she explains. “If you’ve found a potential manager who makes you feel like you’re going to succeed in this role, you’ve got a good chance of doing so.”

Bad sign: Your gut tells you it’s not a fit.

The most important voice to listen to isn’t your best friend. Or your parents. Not even your spouse. When you’re considering taking a job, your gut should lead you more than any other opinion.

As Whitaker-Walker explains, even if the office environment and job description seem perfect, if your hiring manager doesn’t sit well — you need to think twice.

“If something feels off, spend time reflecting on what the trigger could have been—was there a lack of eye contact? Slight condescension in the voice? Did other members of the hiring team seem fearful or embarrassed when the hiring manager spoke?” she continues. “Listen to your gut and follow up with any questions to help shed light on incompatibility indicators your subconscious may have discovered.”

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