Have You Ever Had Difficulty Working With a Manager?

Businesswoman handing paper to co-worker
••• Blend Images - Ariel Skelley / Brand X Pictures / Getty Images

Interviewers ask job candidates about issues with managers to discover whether they are team players who are going to be able to get along well with their bosses and others in the workplace. Be careful how you answer this question. Interviewers don't like to hear you elaborate too much (or much at all) about bad bosses because it could be someone from their company that you're talking about next time around.

Have You Ever Had Difficulty Working With a Manager?

Watch what you say and be careful when answering questions about previous managers.

You don't want to come across as being a difficult employee to work with.  Thus, you will want to cast any past experiences in the most positive light possible.

Even if your manager was awful, you don't need to say so. You don’t know if perhaps your interviewer knows your former boss personally, and you also don’t know when your paths might cross again. It is always smart to be as considerate as possible when describing your relationship with a difficult manager. You gain nothing by coming across as bitter.

Choose instead to be upbeat: if possible, try to discuss the strengths your past supervisors had and how they helped you succeed in your positions. It’s a good idea, before your interview, to think of a specific example or two of where previous managers excelled so that you can focus upon positive rather than negative interactions.

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are sample answers to the interview question, "Have you ever had difficulty working with a manager?" In an actual interview, be sure to tailor your response to fit your personal circumstances.

  • I have been very lucky to have had terrific managers during my career so far. I have respected each of them, and got along well with all of them.
  • No, I am a hard worker, and my managers always seem to appreciate the job I'm doing. I've got along well with every manager I've had.
  • I had a rocky start with a manager earlier in my career, because we had different expectations for the flow of the workday. Once we talked about it, we realized that our goals were very compatible, and we were able to work very successfully together for several years.
  • I once had a manager who brought her own problems into work with her on a daily basis. She was going through a difficult time in her personal life, and this tended to affect the atmosphere in the office. It didn't impact my work because I was able to sympathize with her circumstances, but the situation was challenging.
  • I have found that if I take the time to talk with my manager at the beginning of a project, we can all get off to a great start on the same page.
  • I did have an experience where I thought my new supervisor was unhappy with me. So I made a point to arrive early one day so I could talk to her in private. It turned out that she was not unhappy with me at all and she apologized if she came across that way.

More Interview Questions About Bosses

It can be tricky to negotiate conversations about your past relationships with bosses or supervisors, particularly if you were unfortunate enough to have had to work with a difficult or excessively demanding individual.

While you want to be honest in discussing your past work relationships, you should keep negative opinions to yourself – interviewers aren’t as interested in the information you provide about a former boss as they are in your tone, attitude, and positivity in framing your response.

Forewarned is forearmed: if you take the time before your interview to review more interview questions about bosses, including common questions about working with your supervisor, your best and worst bosses, and what you expect from a manager, you’ll be ready to respond to your interviewer with confidence and poise.

Read More: Top 10 Job Interview Tips | Behavioral Interviews | What to Wear to a Job Interview | Job Interview Thank You Letters