Job Interview Question

Who was your best boss and who was your worst?

How To Answer Interview Questions Series

Table of Contents

Click to expand question sets, then click individual questions to read the post.

  1. Are you adaptable?
  2. Can you get along with a wide variety of people?
  3. Do you carry grudges?
  4. Do you fit their company’s cultural style?
  5. Do you fit your potential hiring manager’s leadership style?
  6. How do you react to negative situations?

Your overall goal to keep in mind is to stay positive and communicate that you can work with any boss in any situation.

To do that, you can’t get too specific in what you expect in a supervisor when you talk about how great a particular boss was.  If your potential boss for this job doesn’t match what you say, you won’t get hired. At the same time, you can’t start in on how bad one boss was.  Even if you can tell a story that has people howling with laughter at parties, you can’t tell that story here.  Any hint of negativity only makes you look like a negative person to the interviewer.

A great answer in response to “Who was your best boss?” sounds something like, “I’ve been so lucky to have had some great bosses that I’ve learned a lot from.  They have all had some characteristic or habit or knowledge that I’ve been able to learn so much from.”  And then maybe you can say something you learned from one boss in particular that touches directly on your fit for this job:  maybe it’s a skill or a habit or something that makes you extremely good at what you do.

A great response for “Who was your worst boss?” sounds more like, “I did have a boss who I inherited.  I didn’t choose him and he didn’t choose me and our communication styles were very different.  We got along OK and I succeeded with him but it wasn’t like it was with other managers.”

Why is that a good response?  Because you’ve chosen something vague enough that it won’t come back to bite you in this interview, and you kept the outcome positive (meaning you hold no grudges, it was just one of those things, and you were still successful). You never want to badmouth a previous boss.

Try to spin any negative experience into a positive learning experience for you that made you better or stronger than you were before, that you will carry right into this new job.

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