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Great letter. I like how the author paid attention to those little details that we often dismiss as unimportant. But isn't it the small things that point to larger values?

So it really does come down to Kelley's point about trusting our instincts. Scott Sinek in his book Start with Why says that we've been trained to ignore our gut feelings when, in reality, they are a source of invaluable input during the decision making process. If you get the feeling that someone's an asshole, chances are you're right.

Traci Mitchell

Dr. Sutton, I have recently read both books about bosses and as I'm currently looking for a new position I am going to use the 10 questions as I interview any future employer better than I have in the past. I've also learner how to be a better boss next time. Thank you for the continued work.


I think he read your book, looked for an asshole, and found one.

Seems like he never questioned his own interpretations of the behaviors he observed.


I have always believed that he interview was a mutual evaluation of the relationship, the opportunity and most important the fit.

In the middle of a career quagmire where the opportunity and fit re exceptional, and the relationship has some issues. My big question is whether we are willing to compromise.


... my list is pretty long, but also very subjective.


I wish I had read "No Nice Guys Who Are Also Spineless Wimps and Can't Say 'No'"

Kelley Eskridge

Hi Bob,

I think your email correspondent's analysis is very astute. I think we know when other people are assholes. I think that we have an instinct for when we are being disrespected, dismissed, marginalized, undermined....

The question is, are we willing to trust our own instincts? There's a marvelous book on this called THE GIFT OF FEAR by Gavin DeBecker, specifically about women (usually) trusting their instincts in physically or sexually threatening situations. Emotional and psychological situations are no different -- and we should trust our instincts there, too.

Instinct is primarily a result of internalized social and hardwired biological cues: we *know* when something doesn't feel right. Trusting those instincts may be inconvenient (in terms of immediate payoffs like 'I got a job') but they are almost always, in my experience, better for us in the long term.

I just declined to continue working with a client that I thought was an asshole. I regret the money, but you know what? I feel a lot better about the whole rest of my life because I'm not twisted up about my work. I know I made the right choice.

The best sign that an interviewer is an asshole is that the interview is more about them than you, and that (conversely) they don't actually answer any questions that you ask. Lethal combination. It means that on every level, they are not listening.

Life is too short, indeed. Good for this person!


Another sure test is an interviewer that starts tapping away on their mobile phone when the person being interviewed starts talking. I was asked to be the second half of an interview panel for a client, where the other person I was interviewing with did this - I could not believe my eyes!

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