How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Ideal Boss

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As part of the interview process, employers may want to assess how you will respond to supervision, whether you have any issues with authority and the nature of your work style. Your interviewer may ask questions about your preferred supervisor to help determine how well you will work within the company's management framework.

When the interviewer asks about what your ideal boss is like, it could be asked as a reflection upon your past supervisors or in terms of your future preferences. Some examples of types of questions include, “Who was your best boss?,” “Who was your worst boss?,” and “Describe your ideal boss.”

When answering these questions, try to balance your ability to take direction from a boss with your ability to work independently. Also, avoid criticizing any of your former employers. If you speak negatively about prior employers, hiring managers will wonder if you will do the same when it's time to discuss their organization.

Read below for tips on how to answer these kinds of questions, as well as sample answers.

How to Answer 

Here are some guidelines for responding to questions about your ideal boss:

Try to Strike a Balance
Between emphasizing your ability to work independently and your comfort with taking direction from a boss. You don't want to come across as needing either too much or too little supervision. Before you answer, think about the job you are interviewing for, and try to estimate how much management the employer will expect you to need. Use this to guide your answer.

Emphasize Your Adaptability
Sharing how you have thrived with a variety of supervisory styles in your past. Be prepared to give examples of how you have been productive with different types of bosses.

Consider the Qualities of a Manager
What qualities are attractive to you and which will also help the organization succeed.

Never, Under Any Circumstances, Should You Criticize a Past Supervisor
Your prospective employer will likely assume you are a difficult employee and side with your former employer. Even when an interviewer asks you to describe your least favorite boss, focus on how you were still successful in this environment, and emphasize what you look for in a manager, rather than the qualities you dislike.

Don't Get Too Carried Away With Your Answer
Don't imply that you have unrealistic expectations for some superhuman manager or that you will be too needy as an employee. Keep your answer brief.

Sample Answers

  • In response to the question, “Describe your ideal boss”: My ideal boss would encourage clear communication between herself and her employees. I believe communication – in person, as well as via phone and email – is critical to a successful relationship between an employer and employee.
  • In response to the question, “What types of managers have you worked for, and what type do you prefer?”: I have worked under employers with a variety of management styles. I have had some employers who encourage lots of independent work, and others who prefer to give clear, specific instructions. I thrive in both environments. I work very well independently, but also know when to ask questions.
  • In response to the question, “Describe your worst boss”: I value an employer who communicates clearly with his employees. I am a strong written and oral communicator and appreciate employers who value those skills. In the past, I have had some employers who have been less clear in conveying their ideas and directions than others. While I work very well independently and do not require excessive supervision, I do appreciate employers who speak clearly to employees. That being said, I've worked under a variety of types of employers, and have worked successfully under all of them.

    More Interview Questions About Bosses

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