What Do You Look for in a Manager Interview Question and Answers

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Sep 8, 2022 6 min read

One common question to expect in job interviews is, “What do you look for in a manager?” Prospective employers ask this question for a variety of reasons. Chiefly, they tend to ask this question to gauge if you will be a good fit for the company and will work well with the person who will become your manager.

Prospective employers also ask this question to determine how much supervision you want or need and how you like to be managed. This will give them a sense of who you are as a person and who they can expect you to be as an employee. You want to be sure you give an answer that not only describes your ideal manager but reflects that you will be their ideal employee when it comes to management style.

How to Answer Questions About Your Ideal Boss

When considering how to describe your ideal manager, keep in mind the kind of work environment you might be joining or desire to join. The qualities of an ideal boss should be reflective of the work environment itself and/or your desired work conditions.

For example, if the work environment you hope to join is one where you complete most work on your own, then you will want to give an answer that reflects a boss who does not micromanage. You can also use this as an opportunity to talk about how well you work independently and describe a boss who supports independent work.

If, on the other hand, the work environment you hope to join is one in which you will be working on a team, you want to describe your ideal manager as someone who promotes teamwork. This might include someone who is emotionally intelligent, well organized, encouraging, or an excellent communicator.

You should spend time researching the company’s organizational structure and where your desired position would fit so that you can describe a manager who matches that environment. You should also be able to find information about the company’s values on their website or social media pages. Use what you learn to answer any questions about your ideal boss. You can also turn to job-specific interview guides to help you prepare to answer questions.

Next, consider what you have appreciated about previous bosses with whom you have worked. What did these bosses do or not do that made them good leaders? Did they display values you admired? What characteristics did they have that made them a good boss? What actions did they take to be effective in their roles?

If, alternately, you have only had bad bosses, you can use your experiences to inform how you answer questions about your ideal boss. What about those bosses made it difficult for you to do your job well? Think about what you would have wanted them to do, and use those ideas to answer questions about your ideal boss.

You should always spend time doing your homework before any interview. Learn about the company’s culture and its approach to teamwork. Spend time on the company’s website and social media pages to gather information.

Sample Questions and Answers

Question: Describe your worst boss.

  • Answer: What a great question. I once had a boss who made it challenging to work in a team. She promoted competitiveness, wasn’t clear on assignments to team members, and didn’t keep the team up to date. I enjoy working as part of a team. I would love a manager who promotes teamwork by encouraging collaboration and clearly communicating with all team members.

Question: What types of managers have you worked for, and what type do you prefer?

  • Answer: That’s an excellent question. I’ve worked for a variety of managers, all of whom brought positive qualities to the table. I’ve worked with authoritarian managers who keep a close eye on all work, and with managers who are more hands-off and support independent work. While I prefer to work with managers who support independence and don’t micromanage, I’ve found I can thrive under a variety of management styles.

Question: Describe your ideal boss.

  • Answer: One thing I appreciate about this company is that you value honesty and integrity. My ideal boss would embody those values. The best managers are those who are honest and communicate with their employees. They show integrity in their actions, backing up what they say they are going to do and giving credit where credit is due.

Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to answering ideal manager interview questions, there are a few pitfalls you will want to avoid. This will ensure you give a cogent and compelling answer that leaves a positive impression on your prospective employer.

First, avoid vague answers. Vague answers tell the interviewer very little about you or how you will fit in the company. They can also give the impression that you did not prepare sufficiently for the interview or that you haven’t given thought to the question at hand.

Second, you want to give answers that are not overly negative. If you focus on the negative in your answers, your interviewer may feel that you are a person who is not easily managed. Furthermore, disparaging a former employer can cause your prospective employer to fear you will do the same to them after starting employment. You want to give the impression that you are easily managed and have a positive attitude.

Finally, be sure your answers are clear and that you avoid confusing language. If the interviewer is confused by your answer, they will not get a sense of who you are and how you might fit in the company.

One common mistake people make is to list contradictory qualities when asked what management style do you prefer interview questions. This will leave the interviewer confused and may give the impression that you are a scattered person or that you aren’t a clear communicator. Make sure your answers are clear and consistent.

Keep in mind that you can ask questions as well. Whether or not you are asked about your ideal boss, prepare some questions for your future manager so that you can gauge whether they would be a good fit for you as an employee and team member.

Takeaways: Describe Your Ideal Boss Interview Question

Because questions about your ideal boss are so common in job interviews, you want to make sure you are prepared to answer them. Get to know the company and your desired job role to ensure you answer in a way that reflects what the interviewer hopes to hear. Reflect on your experiences with previous bosses and answer in a way that accurately describes the type of management style under which you work best.

Give answers that are specific, clear, and positive. Also, keep in mind that there are many more components to a successful interview than the way you answer questions. Be sure you focus on good body language, a compelling resume, and a strong LinkedIn page in addition to your interview preparation. Keep in mind, you can always get Career Coaching Service support from Enhancv.

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Kal Dimitrov
Kal is a resume expert @ Enhancv. He frequently publishes blog posts around resume writing, cover letters & job applications. Kal also runs a Career Accelerator Bootcamp for young graduates.
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