4 Types of Horrible Hiring Managers (and How to Find Candidates Who Can Work With Them)

May 12, 2016

While many recruiters know that people usually leave a job because of their manager and not the company, how many of us actually fold that knowledge into our day-to-day recruiting efforts? The fact is, for the candidates we find, a bad boss can overwhelm a great compensation package and killer culture, while a great boss can make them overlook the fact that a company has a bit of a brand problem.

Unfortunately, there isn’t anything recruiters can do about bad bosses (and every company has a few). However, it is possible to train yourself to notice the types of bosses that exist within your organization. If recruitment is quickly being handed the Herculean task of impacting employee retention numbers, then it’s crucial to identify these bad boss types and recognize the types of workers who may work well underneath them.

Here are four types of horrible bosses you may recognize, and the types of people who can work well with them:

1. The boss who can’t get enough of himself

This boss may not even know he has employees. He's too busy focusing on company perceptions and his own career, needs, wants and desires. The one good thing about narcissistic bosses is they aren’t necessarily mean and many times, they are so involved in their own selves, that the team can get a lot accomplished by learning to work around them.

So, pair them with your most enthusiastic recruits, those who truly are self-starters. These candidates don’t need to be told what to do, in fact, they are virtually chomping at the bit to try new ideas.

While you might face some blowback down the line when the full of himself boss gets wind of the newbie’s ambition, it might be hard for him to pin down the actual problem without exposing his own vain ways. More likely though, he will capitalize on his new star and try to take credit for the work he or she brings to the table. While this may present retention issues in the future, take the risk and see if your passionate new hire has the ability to stand up for his or her work.

2. The boss who has no boundaries 

As the lines between work and home life continue to be blurred by flexible hours, increased communication platforms and the always-on mentality, I predict this boss is going to become even more prevalent.

In smaller organizations, overly friendly bosses can run rampant. This is wonderful for those who desire a blended work and home life, but for those interested in keeping work and home separate, it may ring warning bells. Facebook friend requests from your boss, after hours events employees feel forced to go to and personal stories that have no place in the workforce are all hallmarks of this kind of supervisor.

If you have this friendly fellow in your office, work to place new hires that crave this sort of interaction. Think, the Dwight Schrute to the manager’s Michael Scott. This manager just wants to be loved, is that so wrong? So if you can’t move the manager (and most recruiters cannot) then pair him with someone who will appreciate the friendship being offered.

A worker who values commerce or stability is the wrong choice for this boss. Instead, look for values like recognition and creativity. While it’s important to keep the relationship from getting so personal it affects advancement and engagement, this is likely the best move for long-term retention.

3. The boss who won’t let go

This is the micromanager - a boss who is extremely detail-oriented and feels that the only way for something to turn out perfectly is if they do it. While this may be great for entry-level employees who crave guidance, it can be frustrating for the more experienced, confident workers who need autonomy.

So, find people who are confident and won’t be afraid to assert themselves (in a friendly way) and let their bosses know they can handle it. People who can be successful with this type of boss are able to have hard conversations and negotiate their responsibilities in order to be happy in their role.

4. The boss who is just a jerk 

Some bosses are flat out jerks. Turning a blind eye when someone on their staff is struggling, taking out personal issues on staff and forgetting that while we do spend 8-10 hours a day at work, the rest is filled with others things that are important to us.

How do you hire for this guy’s team? Well this is one of the toughest types of bosses to hire for, but it can be done. First lay the groundwork by pulling that team’s retention numbers and engagement stats (if possible). At the very least, use their current numbers to gauge against if and when you are called to the carpet to explain high turnover.

Once you’ve got some stats behind you, look to the team he’s managed to keep. Chances are, they aren’t all unhappy. Find out what they have in common and hire to that. Additionally, be honest when interviewing potential members of the team. Don’t state outright that the hiring manager is a meanie, but do paint a very clear picture of the no-nonsense way the department is run and be clear about the fact that Mr. Grumpy doesn’t hold much court with the ol’ work-life balance business. This should at least give recruits warning that if they want a friendly, mentor boss who lets them leave for little Kendall’s recital at 4:30, they should maybe look elsewhere.

While it’s difficult to be tasked with bringing people in AND keeping them (as many recruiters are these days), it’s never a bad skill to learn about your hiring managers’ strengths and weaknesses so you can hire to those. While it’s not always possible to place everyone in their perfect position or keep a star employee you worked hard to get, knowing where your bad bosses are may help you get a little closer with every hire. 

*Image from Office Space

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