In a piece discussing the horrible effects mean bosses have on the health and productivity of people at work, Christine Porath also catalogs a couple of excuses that these bosses use:

I’ve surveyed hundreds of people across organizations spanning more than 17 industries, and asked people why they behaved uncivilly. Over half of them claim it is because they are overloaded, and more than 40 percent say they have no time to be nice.

I may just start asking candidates I interview flat out whether they sometimes feel like they’re too busy to be nice. More generally, it feels like a series of questions about how a candidate handles stress may be really useful. Some ideas:

  • Tell me about a time when you felt like someone else’s mistake reflected poorly on you.
  • What do you do when you feel like someone doesn’t feel the same sense of urgency you do about a task?
  • How do you get a meeting on track when you’re the only person who’s prepared?
  • How do you handle it when it’s obvious that your boss didn’t read your email?
  • How do you handle it when a peer/subordinate didn’t read your email?

I’m always looking for ways to identify people with toxic personality traits in interviews. Digging into responses to stress seems like another way to get there.