mr-ed.jpgIt’s become commonplace for employers to do background checks on job candidates. That means your future boss will know a lot about you before you show up with your lunchbox for your first day of work.

But what about workers? How do you know if the guy or gal interviewing you will end up being the best or worst boss you ever had? How do you know if your future boss is nice or a nut job?

One company is now offering employees boss background checks for $19.99. It’s an interesting idea, but I think you probably can get a lot of dirt on your potential new boss without opening up your wallet.

eBossWatch.com, a website that rates bosses around the country based on anonymous ratings from workers, has launched a Boss Background Check service.

“Employers have long been able to conduct background checks on prospective employees,” said company founder Asher Adelman. “For the first time ever, eBossWatch has leveled the playing field.”

This from the website:

The eBossWatch Boss Background Check includes searches of county and federal court records as well as local and national media sources to discover if your potential boss has ever been accused of infractions such as creating a hostile work environment, sexual harassment, or employment discrimination.

Each Boss Background Check that eBossWatch performs is handled by our professional staff so that you can be assured that you will make the right decision in your job search. Boss Background Checks are only $19.95 each.

You put in the name of your future manager and some other details, and get a report back in three business days.

The one big flaw with a service like this is most bosses aren’t so notoriously bad that then end up with a criminal record or on the cover of the newspaper. Most of us will encounter bad supervisors who are bad because they’re inept managers, or play favorites in the workplace, or are so afraid of losing their jobs they make everyone’s life miserable.

Alas, that kind of bad boss conduct doesn’t end up on a police blotter.

So, to find out if your future boss is just a bad boss and not a serial killer, you have to put on your networking hat.

Maybe you thought your LinkedIn or Facebook contacts were just for helping you find a job. Those connections can also be used to check out bosses. Hiring managers are using these social media sources right now to check you out. Why not turn the tables on them?

You should also be talking to people in your community, at daycare, your house of workship, the non profit you volunteer at. Your future boss is probably living in your community. OK, maybe in a more expensive neighborhood, but hey, we all got to go to the supermarket. If the prospective boss is a jerk to cashiers then you’re going to be doomed, trust me.

And, listen to the people you meet with during the interview process that will potentially become your coworkers. Often, employees are asked to take a job candidate to lunch, or just talk to them about the organization.

If the employees seem lukewarm, or aren’t enthusiastic when they talk about the supervisors you’ll be reporting to, I’d take it as a bad sign.

Most importantly, if a worker actually tells you a boss is a jerk I would take that pretty seriously as well.

A few years ago I interviewed for a newspaper I really wanted to work for and did not heed the warnings my future coworkers shared with me during a lunch before I was hired. Yes, they actually told me this boss was a mean idiot but I wanted the gig so bad I figured they were over-blowing the problems.

I had checked this manager out, looking at this person’s background and accomplishments. Clearly this person was driven, and maybe the employees weren’t used to working for a hard ass. I, on the other hand, was a tough New Yorker who liked to be challenged and had worked with some talented, although hard-boiled, editors at United Press International and Women’s Wear Daily.

HA!

It turned out they were right. I left pretty quick and learned a valuable lesson. You can do all the background checks you want but always take seriously what comes straight from the horse’s mouth — the workers.

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