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Workplace Doctor: Would-be boss seems full of himself

I recently attended a job interview where the interviewer was wearing a tracksuit and spent the entire meeting bragging about his various homes around the world. This guy is a successful entrepreneur and someone I admire in the industry, but now that I have been offered the job I wonder if he is someone I can actually work for. Do I just accept him as he is and go for it or look for something else? GH, Dubai 

Sometimes when we seek a new opportunity and get what we are looking for, we then question if it is really what we want, especially in comparison to what we have already. First of all, this is natural and for good reason you are questioning the credibility of the person you would be working with. 

This interviewer, with his style and approach, has not made a good impression on you, perhaps because his manner and fashion sense are inconsistent with your own values. As you mentioned, there are things that you admire about him in terms of the industry itself and his success. It may be that you think highly of his achievements and what he has delivered in terms of his work and career, and may seek the opportunity to replicate this or be around this success.  

However, it also seems that on a deeper, more personal level, the key question you have asked is: “Is he someone I can actually work for?” This is a genuine concern about him as a person. You often hear the term “people do not leave organisations, they leave managers” and forming a potential relationship with a new manager is fundamental to any successful career.

You will need support, encouragement and guidance from this individual to truly flourish. In turn, you need to consider whether you feel that there is potential for you to form a good relationship and whether you could grow to understand and appreciate his natural confidence and interpersonal style. Alternatively, his approach may be so different from how you see yourself that you feel it is impossible for you to work with him. 

It is also important to be aware that you are judging the situation on first impressions only, and he may have been trying to establish his credibility and success to encourage you to work for him. One idea is to arrange another meeting, just to check this out again to see if he adopts a different style and then reevaluate your options. If you feel the same, you have more sound evidence to confirm your beliefs. You may want to get some feedback from a person close to you and describe your impression of this person and let them establish (from knowing you well), how you might find working with them. 

More broadly, organisations are increasingly aware that relationships and the ability to maintain good relationships between individuals and their managers underpin a successful and productive working environment. Yet still people are often rewarded and promoted based on their own personal success, especially in certain fields (such as sales). It may be that this person’s entrepreneurial spirit and achievements have made him successful, but that does not necessarily mean that they are the best person for you to work for.    

Doctor’s prescription: Consider meeting your new potential boss again. If his behaviour and approach do not match your expectations and the organisation’s culture does not fit with the type of environment and role you are seeking, then it in unlikely this post is a good fit for you. Leave this role for someone who finds this entrepreneur’s self-promotion energising and motivating. You are far better off finding a role you really want and a boss you respect.

Alex Davda is a business psychologist and consultant at Ashridge Business School based in the Middle East. Email him at for advice on any work issues


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