We are welcoming back the Best Answers series for the most common interview questions! We're kicking off this segment of job interview questions and answers with another trick question. We've all been told that the most important thing you could do in an interview (in addition to showing up on time!) is keeping the conversation positive.
Do you find yourself struggling to speak positively about your boss (or former boss)?
You're not alone. Boss' are often seen as the enemy in the workplace, but they hold the most responsibility. Their list of priorities are long, and often your priorities are at the bottom (if they're on the list at all!). So then why would an interviewer ask you this question?
What Do You Think Makes A Boss Great?
As a candidate in an interview, I loved this question. It was so refreshing to be asked my opinion of management. Trust me, my mind was swimming with all the things I would do better than each of my former bosses.
Interviewers ask this question to determine if you are going to be a good fit for the leadership style you will be working under if hired. How you answer interview questions about your boss or former bosses will play a huge role in whether or not you will be content working with this company, so answer honestly but strategically.
Identify What You Value In Management
I loved being asked this question because someone was finally interested in what I value in management. Management is a challenging task when juggling the goals of the company and the goals of the employees. At the end of the day, a team can't work well if it isn't led well. Identifying what traits you value in a leader is a great way to answer this question.
A few examples include:
- An honest with great communication skills
- Collaborative with strong delegation skills
- Positive with a focus on inspiring and motivating others
- A leader who recognizes the strengths and achievements of others
Describe Your Ideal Work Environment
Culture fit is a huge contributor to job fulfillment. When asked what makes a great boss, this is an opportunity to talk about how your ideal leadership style will influence your ideal work environment. If you struggle under a magnifying glass, now is the time to say that you don't respond well to micromanagement.
Alternatively, if you like constant feedback and direction from a boss then answer with an emphasis on collaborative leadership. Describing a hands-on leader who encourages teamwork rather than strictly delegating tasks is a great way to keep the conversation positive.
What Do You Think Makes A Boss Not So Great?
This version of the question needs to be answered carefully. A negative question should always be answered by redirecting the conversation toward positivity. It's tempting to jump at the chance to bash on the boss you're trying to get away from, but the interviewer is looking for a reason to not hire you. Don't make it so easy.
Avoid Focusing On Negative Situations
The first reaction is to give examples of horrible bosses. Starting an answer with, "Well, I worked for this one guy who..." is likely going to hurt your chances of a job offer. Why? It's a matter of respect. Showing respect for leadership or another holding a higher position is a highly desirable trait in an employee.
Be respectful and avoid giving real-life examples of not so great bosses. Instead, focus on describing traits that pose a challenge to you.
Suggest Solutions To Negative Traits
Better yet, you should suggest solutions to the negative traits that describe your opinion of a not so great boss. It won't be difficult for you to think back on real-life challenges that you had to face with a manager or supervisor.
For example, I was asked what makes a boss not so great in an interview. My first thought was remembering how a particular manager made me feel ignorant and ill-informed. This manager didn't update employees on changing policies until an issue came up with a customer. The manager would then apologize on my behalf and inform the customer that I was wrong. It was a horrible, embarrassing feeling having no control over the situation.
Rather than bashing on the manager, my answer was, "I really struggle with poor communication from management. I understand that it can be challenging to keep every employee up-to-date on policy changes, but I really appreciate when managers make the time to schedule a 30-minute meeting once a month or send an email once a week with updates that we should be informed of."
Another great example is suggesting a solution to hands-off leadership: "I've worked with some exceptional leaders throughout my career and found that I really value a leader who takes the time to coach and mentor staff. The few bosses I've had that were hands-off delegators were successful in meeting goals, but I found it more challenging to learn and grow under that kind of leadership."
How would you answer this interview question?