I do not know many people who’d easily recall the “best boss” of their life. We have a tendency to complain about our superiors. After all, they earn more money than we do, drive better cars, and date better women. And typically they do know much about the job–at least that’s how we feel, and that’s what all our colleagues say anyway.
Worst boss is another matter altogether. Certainly there are many candidates on your list, and you’ll be able to throw dirt on them for long minutes, if not for hours. Maybe you have even lost track of what’s true and what were only gossips–who cares anyway?
As you can probably imagine, you would not win many points for such an answer in your job interview. Focusing on the bad things is not an attitude hiring managers seek in their new employees. On the contrary–they prefer to hire people who see the good in others, who can praise their bosses–or even their enemies, for something they did well.
Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this tricky interview question. Do not forget to read also my notes below the answers, as they will help you to pick the best one for your situation in an interview.
7 sample answers to “Describe your best boss and worst boss” interview question
- The best one was my direct supervisor in the store where I worked before. She was critical about my work, but in a constructive manner. She never reproached me or raised her voice, just calmly explained what could be done better, with a smile on her face. What’s more, she was open to the suggestions of the employees, and did not consider herself the smartest store manager in the world. I really enjoyed working under her. Before, when I worked as a part time staff member in a restaurant, I had the exact opposite experience. The owner of the place got furious and stressed almost every evening, and he vented his anger on the staff members. The atmosphere in the place was almost hostile when we were packed with guests, and it was also one of the reason why I decided to leave the place.
- I do not believe that something like a great boss or worst boss exists. Each of us has some preferences, and we are all different. I always try to look for the good in people. The only boss I had up to this point in my short professional career had a lot of experience, and they knew everything about logistics. I really felt that we could learn a lot from them. On the other hand, they sometimes struggled to communicate things in an appropriate way, and so we often did not even know what to do… They had they strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone else.
- Up to this point I was my own boss. I’ve done freelancing and never worked for anyone. And honestly, sometimes you are your worst boss. Because you have to find motivation and push yourself each day, whereas when you work for someone else, there are people who help you with motivation, people who set goals for you. I wasn’t a good boss for myself, and that’s maybe one of the reasons why I cannot make it as a freelancer anymore. That’s how it is, however, and I am looking for a new chapter in life, trying a daily bread of a corporate employee.
- My last boss wasn’t only a good manager. They were a great leader, because they tired to help their people grow. They were superbly encouraging, always helping us to find the right way, pushing us forward to great results, going by example. Now when I apply for my first managerial job, I want to have them as my role model in work. Life is short and it makes no sense to boss people, creating tense atmosphere in the workplace. Leadership is a much better concept. And my worst boss, well, I would not say that they were bad or anything. Just did not have the drive and charisma of my best boss. Other than that they did their job quite well.
- This is my first job application, and I have never really worked for anyone. But honestly, I prefer to focus on my work, and my attitude, and do not want to judge other people in work. Each of us has some strengths and weaknesses, and even great people have a bad day in an office sometimes. That’s the way I see it, and I definitely do not have in my head some picture of an ideal boss. Let’s try to be an ideal employee. If I manage to do it, I am sure the relationship with my boss will thrive.
- I do not like to say bad things about people. But my last boss, well, how would I say it, they didn’t care much about their subordinates, or the company. I believe they got in through some connection in the management, and weren’t particularly qualified for the job. They spent most days locked in their office and you never saw them in the plant, talking to workers. I do not want to judge them, however. Maybe they did some job on the computer. But I just feel that a good boss should talk to their people. They should spend their time in the workplace, listening to the concerns of the workers, trying to improve things. That definitely wasn’t the case with the last boss I had.
- I would describe my best boss with three words–empathetic, driven, and fair. No nepotism or favoritism in their work. The worst boss I had, and it’s been some years ago, I’d describe with the following three words-selfish, arrogant, unfair. Regardless of the boss I had, however, I always tried to do my job as good as I could. Just as you do not choose your parents or place of birth, you do not choose your boss or manager. The only thing you decide about is your attitude–to your boss and to your job. That’s what I always focused on–to have a good attitude.
Avoid any sort of personal criticism, and talk in opinions
You should focus on work-related things in your description of the worst boss you had. Saying that you did not like them personally, or that you weren’t on the same wavelength, and that’s the reason why you hated them, would be a bad answer. Also saying that they did something against you in particular.
You can say that they weren’t receptive to feedback, or selfish, or even not really qualified for the job. But try to present it as your opinion–and not as a fact. That’s the way you saw things, but just like with any other person who crossed your path in life, you did not see the entire picture. You are aware that you can be wrong with your judgement. That’s a good attitude to present in an interview.
Your boss, and especially a bad one, should not determine the quality of your work
Check sample answers no. 5 or no. 7 as a good example of demonstrating this principle in an interview. Ensure the interviewers that you won’t work with less effort, or even try to hide somewhere in the office, just because you do not like your boss, and want their team to have bad results.
They have their role in the company and so do you. Maybe they aren’t qualified, and maybe they are even ugly on you. But as long as they do not restrain you are do not harass you in any way, you’ll simply try your best in work. Because you cannot change your boss. You focus on your attitude, and your results. Maybe one day you’ll replace them in their chair… or you’ll leave the company, unable to bear the boss anymore. As long as you are working for them, however, you try your best, regardless of the attitude of your manager.
* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!
Philosophical answer can win you some extra points in an interview
Saying that you were your only boss up to this point–and perhaps even criticizing yourself, for a lack of motivation or discipline, can make a deep impression on many interviewers.
Not everyone can admit making a mistake, or look at something in the corporate life from a perspective of an observer. Do not be afraid to come up with some atypical answers in your interview. Check no 2. and no 3. from our list as good examples.
When you say something nobody else will, interviewers will remember it long after the end of the interview. And that’s what you want to achieve–that they remember you once they end their interview with the last job candidate…
Ready to answer this one? Fine, let’s check 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Who has impacted you the most in your career?
- Tell us about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
- What does integrity mean to you?