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Hiring a boss can be one of the trickiest tasks you’ll ever have as an employee.

Yes, you read that right. You may be the one looking for a job, but you can also be the one doing the hiring.

Many of us don’t realize this. We concentrate on finding someone who wants to hire us instead of someone we would like to work for. Given the importance of the relationship we will share with a supervisor, it is a mistake to sit back and automatically take what is offered to us. After all, a supervisor we like and understand can make the quality of our work and personal lives much better than one we don’t.

And there is the possibility that your supervisor’s actions over time can have a long-term effect on your opportunities for promotion. Sometimes, the impressions that supervisors leave behind can affect your work life for several more years.

Here are four questions you might want to ask on your next job interview.

• Is this supervisor competent, fair and motivated to run a first-rate department? You should know the answer to this before you ask. Whenever possible, you should seek out individuals who know this supervisor or who have worked for him or her in the past. They will be your best gauge as to whether this supervisor is the type of person you want to work for. If you find the supervisor has a different evaluation of his or her competence, fairness, and motivation, this should immediately send up a red flag.

• How did this individual obtain the supervisor’s job they hold today? People love to talk about themselves, and asking this question can greatly relieve the stress of the job interview. But you need to listen as the supervisor discusses how they earned their position. Were they a standout worker who was rewarded or were they motivated to get ahead by gaining power over others? There is no telling what kind of underlying messages can come out of this discussion, and it can be one of the most beneficial you will ever have with a potential supervisor.

• What does this supervisor demand of employees and how are employees rewarded when they meet these goals? You have a right to know what is expected of you if hired and you must pay close attention to the way the supervisor answers this question. People generally don’t adopt new operating standards in mid-career, and the more you know about how they treat workers means the fewer misunderstandings you might have later. This question is also important for you to evaluate whether you will be continually motivated in your job.

• How does the supervisor view their role in the corporate structure? If the supervisor downplays their importance in the company, this could be a sign that the work you are about to do is not considered essential to the company or that this individual is on the downhill side of their career. You want to know that your work is valued outside of your own department and that your supervisor sees a long-term future for both of you in the company.

Those are only four questions. You can probably come up with variations of them for your own purposes, but the point is you can and should be more than a passive participant in the hiring process.

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